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Taking Care of Yourself While Breastfeeding

Making the Calories Count

Just as difficult as it might be to find that time to rest, it can be even more difficult to find the time to eat and to eat right. Mothers who are breastfeeding need to consume more calories each day than those who feed their babies formula.
The number of calories you need on a daily basis will depend on several factors, including how much body fat you have and how active you are. In general, it is often recommended for moms who are nursing to consume 500 more calories a day than you would before pregnancy. The process of producing breast milk takes a lot of energy, so it is important to not only get those calories in, but also to make them count.
The breastfeeding process not only burns a lot of calories, but it also consumes a lot of nutrients. However, with all the advice that gets hurled at moms, this can be an overwhelming topic. Some say that you need to eat certain foods to help keep your milk production up. Others say avoid certain foods or else your baby may not drink your breast milk. It's no surprise that it can be difficult to even know where to start!
Try not to become overwhelmed with all the advice. What may be right for one mother can be completely different for another mom. It will come down to you and your little one's personal situation.
If you notice that when you eat certain foods, your little one has diarrhea or a red rash, then try cutting that out of your diet. If you eat spicy foods and your baby seems to avoid drinking much breast milk, try cutting back and see if it makes a difference. Finding the best foods for you and your little one is a trial-and-error process, and one that will be unique for your situation.
Try to remember, however, that good nutrition will help to maintain your health as you are recovering from pregnancy, birth, and now the rigorous schedule of keeping up with a baby. It can be helpful to have variety in your diet. Although there is no one ideal diet, you should strive for at least the following daily intake of the main food groups:
  • Fresh vegetables and fruits
  • Various grains, particularly whole-grain forms of wheat, rice, corn, or barley
  • Protein, either from animal sources or plant sources
  • Small quantities of fats, preferably uncooked, cold-pressed vegetable oils.
Also, you may find it easier and more convenient to eat small portions more frequently.
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