Best Foods To Eat During Breastfeeding - All You Need To Know

Whether you’re actively nursing your newborn or using a breast pump, there’s probably not a moment in the day that your amazing body is not making milk. By having some of the best foods to eat during pregnancy, you can get the nutrients you need and also refuel your energy.

Many moms who breastfeed may feel constant pangs of hunger throughout the day. This can be due to the energy that goes into making every drop of milk. In fact, it is estimated that while you are nursing, your energy needs increase by nearly 500 calories a day! 

This is why eating a selection of balanced, nutritious foods is important to ensure your and your baby’s health. Listed below are some super healthy foods you can add to your diet to support your beautiful breastfeeding journey.

10 Best Foods to Eat During Breastfeeding

Nutritious breastfeeding foods can do a lot for you as a breastfeeding mum; some of them can potentially increase your milk supply. For example, lactogenic foods can help you produce breast milk, whereas galactagogue foods can potentially increase breast milk supply. 

While none of the foods listed below are lactogenic or galactagogue items, they have been used by mothers around the world for centuries. They also enrich your diet with essential nutrients like vitamins, antioxidants, healthy fats, minerals, and phytonutrients.

Green and Leafy Vegetables

best foods to eat during breastfeeding all you need to know

Green, leafy vegetables hold the crown when it comes to being a powerhouse of nutrition. In fact, in Thailand, young mothers often increase their consumption of green veggies if they have a low milk supply. 

While these nutritious breastfeeding foods don’t have proven lactogenic properties, there’s no doubt that they’ll improve your health. It could also help instill good eating habits in your little one when you wean them off your breast milk and introduce solid foods.

Green and leafy vegetables also contain important compounds called phytoestrogens, which have been proven to have a positive effect on milk production. If you’re worried that eating veggies like broccoli, spinach, or cabbage will cause gassiness in your toddler, worry not!

While the carbohydrates that these foods contain can cause gas in you, they do not transfer into the breastmilk. So, it’s safe to include plenty of greens in your breastfeeding diet.

Avocado

best foods to eat during breastfeeding all you need to know

You simply cannot go wrong with avocado; whether you spread it on a slice of bread or whip up some guacamole, it’ll always be delicious. This also makes it super easy to prep and eat meals when all you want to do is take a nap. 

Apart from being a versatile ingredient, these deliciously sweet fruits are one of the best foods to eat while nursing. They contain several essential nutrients like vitamins B, C, E, and K, as well as folates and potassium. 

As a breastfeeding mom, you may feel constant pangs of hunger owing to the increased caloric demands of milk production. The good news is that avocados are nearly eighty percent fat and thus make you feel full for longer. And, don’t worry, these are completely heart-friendly fats!

Legumes and Beans

best foods to eat during breastfeeding all you need to know

These are rich sources of proteins, vitamins, minerals, and phytoestrogens - nutrients you need plenty of while breastfeeding. Chickpeas, which are a staple in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines, have been used as galactagogues since the time of ancient Egypt.

Although chickpeas are the most commonly used galactagogues from this food group, you don’t have to stick to one type of bean or legume. Some of the other best foods to eat while nursing include soybeans which have the highest phytoestrogen content among all beans.

To ensure that you have a healthy supply of milk while you’re nursing or using a breast pump, try to include a variety of beans and legumes in your diet. These foods can be extremely beneficial for your general well-being as well, in the long run.

Nuts and Seeds

best foods to eat during breastfeeding all you need to know

Nuts have a phenomenal nutritional content; they are the best sources of iron, calcium, vitamin K and B, as well as zinc. They also contain plenty of healthy fats and proteins to give you a boost of much-needed energy. In many countries and cultures, nuts are considered to be lactogenic foods.

Seeds are also some of the best foods to eat while nursing. These nutritional gifts from nature are a concentrated source of essential nutrients. These include proteins, zinc, iron, calcium, and healthy fats.

Like nuts, seeds are also believed to have lactogenic properties. It’s important to note that every type of seed has a unique nutritional profile, so ensure that you add a good mix to your breastfeeding diet, like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, or sesame seeds. 

So, if you’re feeling particularly snacky due to the hunger pangs, consider a handful of nuts and seeds to reap their benefits.

Root Vegetables 

Root vegetables, especially the red and orange ones, like carrots and yams, are considered to have lactogenic benefits. In a traditional Chinese diet called Zuo Yue Zi, which can be roughly translated to “sit the month” and is a resting period for young mothers, carrots and yams are the star ingredients.

In this culture, it is believed that the root vegetables nourish a breastfeeding mother and also nourish the baby by increasing both the quantity and quality of milk. Root vegetables like sweet potatoes are excellent sources of nutrients like potassium. The phytoestrogens in these veggies can also help improve the nutritional value of breastmilk.

Mushrooms

If you look up lactogenic foods, mushrooms won’t be at the top of the list. However, specific types of mushrooms like shiitake, reishi, and oyster mushrooms are rich sources of polysaccharide beta-glucan.

This nutrient is believed to be responsible for the galactagogue properties of oats and barley. In fact, foods rich in beta-glucan are considered among the best foods to eat while nursing. They include oats, yeast, barley, certain types of mushrooms, and algae or seaweed.

If you follow a vegan diet, mushrooms could be a great way to enhance the flavor profile of your food by adding a rich umami taste while imparting its lactogenic benefits to it.

Yogurt and Other Probiotic-Rich Foods

best foods to eat during breastfeeding all you need to know

It is believed that the good bacteria in the mom’s gut can make their way into her breastmilk and ultimately provide health benefits to the baby. In fact, breastmilk is ripe with good pre and probiotic properties, which aids in growing and developing a sound gut ecology for your baby’s long-term growth. 

It also helps improve and strengthen your baby’s immunity. To keep your gut healthy, and in turn, your baby’s, include yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso in your breastfeeding diet

Yogurt comes in several yummy flavors, and you could also add some fresh fruit or granola to make your tastebuds dance! In addition to probiotics, yogurt is also a great source of calcium, an essential nutrient for nursing mothers, since they can experience a three to nine percent decrease in bone density. 

Apricots and Dates

best foods to eat during breastfeeding all you need to know

Including apricots and dates in your breastfeeding diet can increase the hormone known as prolactin in your body, which is responsible for stimulating milk production. In addition to this, apricots are rich in dietary fibers, potassium, Vitamins A and C. 

Fresh apricots are great for you, but if you’re opting for the canned version, ensure they’re not packed in artificially-sweetened syrups. If you are on the go quite often, keep some dried apricots handy for a quick, filling snack.

Dates are excellent sources of iron, calcium, and fiber. Their natural sweetness makes them the perfect snack if you’re craving something sweet but healthy. You can eat dates as they are or make a delicious sauce or dip to drizzle over your food.

Salmon 

Farm-raised or wild-caught salmon is one of the best foods to eat during breastfeeding as it is rich in proteins, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids. The latter two nutrients can also help keep postpartum depression at bay. 

Other than direct sunlight, salmon is one of the few natural sources of Vitamin D. It also contains ample amounts of DHA, a fat that promotes the development of your baby’s nervous system. Salmon and other fish like sardines can help increase breast milk production.

Eggs

Eggs are truly a versatile ingredient - you can boil, poach, or scramble them. As they say, it’s hard to go wrong with an egg! These nutritious breastfeeding foods are super easy to prepare, and whether you have them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you’ll feel quite full for a sufficient period of time. 

Eggs are a treasure trove of nutrients; they contain proteins, lutein, vitamins B12 and D, folate, choline, and riboflavin. Choline is particularly beneficial as it supports the development of the nervous system and helps build cell structure.

Final Words

Breastfeeding your little one is a magical time! It is a special bonding experience but can be quite draining in terms of energy. Ensuring that you eat plenty of nutritious foods from the list mentioned above will help both you and your baby stay healthy and hearty! 

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