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Breastfeeding is the healthiest way to nourish your baby.  Just as important though, is making sure you are well nourished too.  It does take a lot out of you to produce breast milk so it is important to maintain a healthy diet while you are breastfeeding.  Your body will produce quality breast milk regardless of your diet (our bodies work to make sure the baby gets what he needs before worry about itself). However, if you are not following a healthy diet it could mean that your body will be seriously lacking the nutrients it needs.  Hopefully during your pregnancy you followed a healthy diet, it is important to continue following that healthy diet while you breastfeed.

Here are a few things you should remember to include (or avoid) as part of your healthy breastfeeding diet.

  • Follow a well balanced diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.  The USDA has developed a special food pyramid for nursing mothers, check it out to make sure you are eating the right foods in the right quantities.
  • Make sure you consume plenty of water.  It is recommended that you drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.  Your body will still produce enough breast milk if you don’t get enough fluids but you are more likely to become dehydrated.  One way to make sure you are getting enough fluids is to have a glass of water every time you nurse the baby.
  • If you are trying to shed the pregnancy pounds while breastfeeding do so slowly.  It is recommended that you not loose more than 1-2 pounds per week.  Fad diets are not recommended.  Any weight loss should be achieved with a well balanced diet and exercise.
  • Limit your intake of fish that is high in mercury (just like when you were pregnant).
  • High flavor foods such as spicy food can cause gas in your baby.  If you identify foods that seem to cause your baby to be more gassy or fussy you should probably steer clear of those foods (that means no Mexican food for me!!).
  • Abstain from alcohol consumption while breastfeeding as the alcohol does enter the breast milk.  If you do consume alcohol do so in small quantities and be sure you can wait 2 hours before feeding the baby.
  • Talk to your doctor about continuing to take your prenatal vitamins after you deliver as this will ensure you have adequate amounts of essential vitamins during breastfeeding such as calcium and iron.

Breastfeeding your baby gives your baby the best start to life by making sure she gets all the nutrition she needs.  It is important for you to get all the nutrition you need as well so be sure to take care of yourself while you are breastfeeding.  Talk to your doctor or a dietitian if you have questions about what you should or shouldn’t eat, what vitamins you should take, or any other questions you may have about your diet while you are breastfeeding.

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