Between sleep deprivation and feedings, it’s hard enough being a new mom of a newborn. Don’t make it hard on yourself, and understand why simplicity is often better.
There’s always diet advice that is thrown around and told to every new breastfeeding mother.
“You need to avoid sushi and wine while breastfeeding.”
“You must eat SUPER healthy in order to have a steady supply of milk.”
“Breastfeeding will zap the pounds right off of you!”
Before we touch on these different aspects of a “breastfeeding diet”, just know it all boils down to one thing: ditch the diet.
Let’s address a few of these common misconceptions of the mythical breastfeeding ‘diet’:
Myth #1: Pregnancy restrictions still apply to breastfeeding.
Physiologically, our bodies are actually more forgiving when it comes to diet and breastfeeding than diet and pregnancy, as there’s just less risk when the nutrition is passing via breast milk-to-baby versus via placenta-to-fetus.
So if you’re breastfeeding, bring on the sushi! And yes – you can have a glass of wine when you’re breastfeeding and you DO NOT have to pump and dump!
Note: this likely goes without saying, but there is a difference between a glass of wine and going out drinking all night…that’s a different story, and would likely require some pumping and dumping.
Myth #2: I need to restrict unhealthy foods in order to produce more milk.
Other than making sure you’re getting enough essential nutrients to nourish you and your baby, if you’re breastfeeding, there really isn’t anything you have to restrict or, conversely have to include to make “good” milk. You don’t have to restrict a thousand different foods or drink more cow’s milk to make “better milk”. If you want an occasional order of waffle fries or a juicy cheeseburger, go right ahead!
Myth #3: Don’t I need a lot of extra calories to make more milk?
Every breastfeeding mama has probably heard that they need an extra 300-500 calories per day.
But honestly? Forget it.
Yes, physiologically your body requires more energy when producing milk than it does when you’re not breastfeeding or even when you’re pregnant. But the brilliant thing about our bodies is that they tell us exactly what it needs. If we eat intuitively and listen to those hunger cues, you don’t have to worry about calorie counting to fuel milk production. In fact, the best diet recommendation for breastfeeding moms is to eat to your hunger and drink to your thirst. Keep it simple!
Myth #4: My pounds will melt right off with breastfeeding.
Something else that needs to be simplified? The expectations for your body post-pregnancy and childbirth. Pregnancy is a miraculous thing, and your body changes along the nine-month journey to a new human…shouldn’t we celebrate that?
All women experience some type of change in their body to varying degrees: its shape, stretch marks, and C-section scars. Some of these changes aren’t even visible, such as blood glucose, blood pressure, or thyroid regulation.
And if you’re able to breastfeed your child, that’s just another set of changes that your body is experiencing…and it’s a wonderful, breathtaking thing. With that said, do not focus on breastfeeding as the magical diet trick you’ve been looking for your whole life.
It won’t make all the baby weight (and more!) rapidly melt off.
While exclusive breastfeeding may have a small impact on postpartum weight loss, it’s simply not important. Focus instead on nourishing your body, and on living intuitively and mindfully. That intuitive and mindful nature goes for eating, exercising, sleeping, cultivating your existing relationships, and nurturing this new baby in your life. Listen to your body and your body will tell you what it needs.
The first step?
Ditch the need for a diet.
Disclaimer: There may be times of infant allergy or intolerance where a woman is medically advised to eliminate a certain food when she is breastfeeding. If you are concerned your baby may have an intolerance or allergy, please make your first stop be an appointment with your baby’s pediatrician to discuss symptoms and possible interventions with them.
Adapted from the original article.
Lindsey Janeiro RDN, CLC is a Registered Dietitian and Lactation Counselor based in Sarasota, FL focused on helping busy moms live stress-free in the kitchen. She inspires moms with the confidence and encouragement they need to create simple, affordable family meals that nourishes everyone’s health and happiness. Learn more about Lindsey at Nutrition to Fit.