t’s no secret that the food we eat fuels our daily activities — an especially important point when those daily activities include caring for a newborn and breastfeeding. But for many new mamas, the desire to lose the baby weight may take precedence over nourishing their body with the right foods to support recovery, milk production, rest, and all the other tasks required to get through the day. Significantly reducing overall carbohydrate intake — the go-to weight loss strategy for many women — is not your best bet postpartum. Carbohydrates are necessary for new moms — not just for breast milk production, but also for mental health, hormone regulation and more.
Choose a wide variety of foods from all food groups
During the postpartum period, focus on filling up on healthy sources of:
- fiber-rich carbs
- fats like avocados, nuts, and seeds
Keep in mind that caloric intake and appropriate macronutrient ranges vary depending on your activity levels, body size, and more.
Plus, if you have a health condition like diabetes, you may need to follow a different dietary pattern in order to optimize blood sugar control. Every woman’s nutrition needs are different and depend on many factors
Stay hydrated all day long
Hydration needs can vary so it’s best to let thirst be your guide. A good way to gauge hydration is looking at the color of your urine. Pale yellow urine indicates proper hydration while dark-colored urine indicates that you may be dehydrated and need to up your water intake.
Keep an eye on your calories
Fueling your body with the right amount of calories will help keep your energy and milk supply up. However, individual calorie needs are highly variable and depend on body size, age, activity level, and how much you’re breastfeeding.
Remember weight loss is ideally slow and gradual
If you’re trying to lose weight while breastfeeding, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says a slow weight loss of 1 pound per week or 4 pounds per month is ideal.
Continue prenatal vitamins
Breastfeeding mothers should continue taking a prenatal vitamin, or a vitamin specific to postnatal mothers. If you’re not breastfeeding but would like the additional nutrients, talk to your doctor for recommendations.
Curb your caffeine intake
While the small amount of caffeine that passes from you to the baby through breast milk is not known to adversely affect your infant, the CDC recommends sticking to 300 milligrams or less per day.
Minimize empty calories
Aim to minimize snack foods and items that are high in added sugar, sodium, and saturated fat, including fried foods, soft drinks, and desserts.
Avoid fish high in mercury
If you’re breastfeeding, avoid high-mercury seafood and fish like orange roughy, tuna, king mackerel, marlin, shark, swordfish, or tilefish. Instead, opt for salmon, shrimp, cod, tilapia, trout, and halibut, among others.
Limit alcohol while breastfeeding
Although many women decide to avoid alcohol while breastfeeding, if you choose to drink, do so in moderation, and try to limit it to after breastfeeding or wait 2 to 3 hours after having a drink to breastfeed.