Everything You Need to Know About
Healthy Breastfeeding Mothers and Their Diet
A mother’s energy may change while she’s breastfeeding and while she’s not. And just like any other human being, mothers get their energy from the food they eat. While diet during pregnancy is very strict, after-birth diet can be moderate and similar to what mothers usually eat before pregnancy. However, there are a few considerations to make since the mother is now feeding for two people - herself and the baby.
Required Calories for Breastfeeding Mothers
Normally, everyone who is not pregnant nor breastfeeding needs approximately 1800 to 2000 calories a day, depending on the person’s weight, height, and daily activities. When a woman enters pregnancy stage, doctors recommend an additional 300 calories to provide nutrients and enough energy for the mother and the baby.
Producing breastmilk after pregnancy demands more energy from mothers. Most doctors record that mothers need to consume 2000 up to 2500 calories a day for mothers to produce the right amount of energy to produce breastmilk.
Try Not to Count Calories
Amid your busy schedule of taking care of your house and taking good care of your baby, it might be more difficult to keep track of your calorie intake than to go about your day. Instead of focusing on the number of calories consumed, it is best to just observe how your body craves food. Most of us misinterpret the signals of our bodies and we often misread being thirsty as being hungry. Because of this, it is also best to be mindful of the fluids you take in a day. It is best to put a ready bottle in your refrigerator so you will know how much fluid you have taken in a day.
If you’re used to counting calorie intake, it best to take note...
That you need to take at least 1800 calories a day. If you maintain a caloric intake lesser than 1800, your body’s milk production may get affected. A mother may also need to consider the amount of weight, nutritional intake and activities to know the right amount of calories she needs to take daily.
Mothers have different needs and activity levels. That is why it is important to know what an individual’s baseline need for calories and nutrients. Take for instance: a mother with fewer activities may have stored more fats and has eaten foods with higher nutritional value. This case would be very different for a mother who is physically active. More often than not, mothers who move more frequently will store fewer fats in her body and may eat more processed foods.
Calorie intake for mothers who are nursing may depend on a lot of factors. This includes the following:
- The volume of fat stored in the Mother’s body.
- Mothers need to consult their dietician to understand their Body Mass Index (BMI), If a mother does not have enough fat in her body, she may need more calorie intake than those who have stored enough fats in their bodies. The opposite should be observed by mothers who have a very high BMI.
- Frequency of Breastfeeding
- It is also important to note how frequent mothers breastfeed their babies. Mothers who exclusively breastfeed their babies may need more calorie intake as lactation in itself requires energy and nutrients from the mother.
An exclusively breastfeeding mother may need to take an additional 300 calories a day on top of the calorie intake she regularly followed during the pregnancy period. This additional number of calories is different from the required additional calories during the last trimesters of her pregnancy.
Breastfeeding burns calories
Yes, breastfeeding burns calories! The number of calories burnt will depend on the frequency of your breastfeeding activities, how often your body produces breastmilk and the age of your baby. Studies show that breastfeeding burns more than 200 calories a day due to the following factors:
- You will burn more calories when the baby is still very young. Infants will require more breastmilk as compared to periods when the baby can already take solid foods.
- If you are producing more than the average amount of breastmilk, it is expected that you are burning more calories as compared to mothers who are producing less.
- If you are a solid believer of exclusive breastfeeding, then you may be burning more calories than mothers who are alternating formula feeding and breastfeeding.
Safe Dieting for Lactating Mothers
There are important guidelines to follow while attempting to diet while lactating. Here are some that are noteworthy:
- Start watching your diet when your baby is already two months old.
- It is best to be consciously watching your diet on your baby’s second month so you can fully give him or her the required nutrients babies needs from the breastmilk. During the first two months, even though you are not yet attempting to be on diet, you are unconsciously losing weight because of the number of calories you lose due to frequent breastfeeding.
- Unrestrictive Breastfeed
- Non-stop exclusive breastfeeding for six months or more will also increase the chances of weight loss for mothers.
- Avoid Promising Quick Diet Offers
- All sorts of fad dieting are not recommended for lactating mothers as it may alter the nutritional requirements for breastfeeding.
- Keep in mind: Minimum of 1500 calories a day
- While mothers need to attempt dieting, they should also keep in mind that they do not need to go below 1500 calories a day. While subconsciously keeping this in mind, you also help your baby get the right nutrients they need from your breastmilk.
- Do not immediately dive into extreme dieting
- Going into extreme dieting immediately may alter patterns in your breastmilk production. This also happens to mothers who get sick while nursing their babies. The body detects the sudden drop of nutrients and calories that will possibly reduce milk supply.
These are the possible things that might happen to a lactating mother if she abroptly loses weight:
- Most of the time, when mothers attempt to lose weight drastically, they tend to get sick.
- Drastic eating patterns may result to change in milk supply.
- Body changes occur when mothers do fad dieting which also results in milk supply changes.
Best Diet Practices by Healthy Mothers
- Decrease fat intake by 25%
- It is best to decrease your fat intake and increase your protein intake. Protein helps maintain the right muscle mass for mothers. Studies and research recommend 65 grams of protein per day for mothers.
- Eat smaller meals and snacks in between
- Instead of the usual three meals a day, try to eat smaller meals throughout the day with snacks in between. This way, you won’t starve so much in between meals and overeat.
- Start building your exercise routine at home
- Just like any advice doctors and health experts would say to anyone, it is always best to do exercises. While you have already started your regular protein intake, you can slowly get into your home exercise routine so you can produce better and stronger muscle mass.
One of the best things about breastmilk is it can still meet your baby’s nutritional needs even when you’re not eating the right group of foods. However, if your diet cannot meet the required 1500 calories a day, you might end up having low supply of milk and cannot provide the right nutrients to your baby.