Breastfeeding 101: The Breastfeeding Mother’s Needs.

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We’ve covered a lot of ground so far during our Breastfeeding 101 series.  I think we’ve come to a good point to talk a little bit about the breastfeeding mother’s needs.  When you are lactating you have specific nutritional needs.  Meeting these needs will help your body to produce the milk that your baby needs.  Here are the main things that you need as a breastfeeding mother:

Water

  • The nursing mother needs about 64 oz. a day or 8 8 oz. glasses
  • Water ensures a good milk supply.
  • Staying well-hydrated helps the mother to feel better physically.
  • Water is calorie-free.  Fruit juices can cause weight gain and/or prevent desired weight loss due to empty calories.

Vitamins

  • The nursing mother should continue to take her prenatal vitamins for 3-6 months post partum.
  • At six months post partum she can switch to a basic vitamin-mineral supplement such as Vitamin Code Women to help provide a boost while lactating (the baby might experience an upset stomach when she consumes an iron supplement).
  • Taking a basic B complex supplement helps milk production, incourages feelings of well-being, and increases energy levels, but the mother should NOT exceed 50 mg of B-6 per day.

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Protein

  • Nursing mothers need about 50-70 grams each day.
  • One peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread and one 8 oz. glass of lowfat milk provides 20 grams of protein.
  • Milk supply seems to be related to the amount of protein in a woman’s daily diet.

Calcium

  • Nursing moms need about 2000 mg each day.
  • If calcium is not readily available for the production of breastmilk, because a mother’s diet is lacking, then it will be taken from the mother’s bones.
  • 8 oz. of yogurt contains about 270 mg of calcium, 1 cup of cottage cheese contains about 230 mg.

Iron

  • To make sure that hemoglobin levels are at a healthy level eat meat and dark green vegetables. Hemoglobin carries oxygen from the lungs to the body tissues and takes carbon dioxide from the tissues to the lungs.
  • Chlorophyll (a natural iron suuplement) can be very helpful in boosting hemoglobin levels in the blood. (Take as directed)

Fruits and Whole Grains

breastfeeding mother's needs

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  • The lactating mother needs plenty of fruits and whole grains to keep her body strong while she’s breastfeeding.
  • They keep mother and baby regular.
  • Keep fruit around the house and easily accessible.  Again, a peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread is great paired with a crispy apple!

 

Many foods such as dairy, eggs, soy beans, and meat contain both protein and calcium, so if you choose wisely you can make sure that you absolutely meet your nutritional needs.  Remember to keep sweets and caffeine to a minimum.  Strive to eat a well-balanced diet each day.  A good breakfast is a must!  Small frequent meals or snacks throughout the day keeps blood sugar levels steady and will enhance energy levels.

The most important thing to remember is that you are not only feeding yourself, you are feeding your baby!  I thought I was a pretty healthy eater until I had my first child.  When I had a little one to feed I was much more intentional about what I put into my body, knowing that she was benefiting from what I consumed.  Do your research and come up with an eating plan that will enable you to reach these nutritional goals.  A plan can take the guesswork out and make it easy!

 

In the next Breastfeeding 101 post we are going to get to the nuts and bolts of nursing your baby, feeding techniques.

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