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Nutrition while breastfeeding is incredibly important, just as it was important while pregnant. A breastfeeding woman will typically need to increase her caloric intake; doctors often recommend boosting calories by about 500 per day, but it is important that this is done in a healthful way, not in snacks such as chips or ice cream. In addition, it is important to eat a good balance of fruit and vegetables to ensure nutritional needs are being met, as well as extra amounts of protein and calcium. Sometimes, doctors will recommend supplementing nutrition while breastfeeding by continuing to take prenatal vitamins as long as the baby is breastfeeding.
Protein and calcium are some of the most important aspects of proper nutrition while breastfeeding. Protein should generally come from leaner sources, such as chicken, eggs, or tofu. Some doctors recommend that women avoid eating fish altogether while breastfeeding, because of the mercury content that could potentially be passed on to the baby. It is important to get enough fat in the diet, however; experts recommend healthy fats such as those found in nuts, avocados, or olive oil, to name a few. Calcium can come from a number of sources, including a supplement, as well as food sources such as cheese, milk, yogurt, or even certain vegetables such as broccoli. It is generally recommended that women who are breastfeeding try to get at least 1,000 mg of calcium per day.
Eating a balanced diet to ensure proper nutrition while breastfeeding will also help women return to a healthy weight after giving birth. It is important to eat the recommended daily amounts of fruits and vegetables per day while breastfeeding, because these contain essential nutrients and vitamins such as vitamin C, which is important. Whole grain breads, crackers, or cereals are also excellent sources of nutrition while breastfeeding. These foods help to add calories and stimulate the production of breast milk without the addition of empty calories that will prevent weight loss or even contribute to weight gain.
Taking a multivitamin or continuing to take prenatal vitamins to supplement nutrition while breastfeeding can be a good idea as well. In addition, it is important to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water, but avoid sugary drinks such as sodas. Any specific questions or nutritional concerns should be directed to the baby's pediatrician, as it is very important to ensure that the baby's nutritional needs are being met as well.
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