When you are breastfeeding, your diet should be similarly healthy to your pregnancy diet. Then your breast milk is the perfect food for your baby and contains everything they need to grow and develop in the first weeks and months. Problems usually only occur with malnutrition, alcohol or drug use, and certain diseases. These are, for example, severe diarrhea and vomiting. It is good to know that some foods change the color, aroma and taste of breast milk when you eat corresponding dishes. This applies to beetroot, carrots and seaweed, as well as garlic, curry, asparagus and eucalyptus. But there are no disadvantages for your baby.
To feed your baby breast milk, your body needs extra energy and nutrients. In the first four months after childbirth, you will consume about 500 calories per day in addition to the average of 2000 calories that a woman would normally consume per day. Basically, you can eat almost anything you want while breastfeeding. However, nutrient-rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, dairy products, lean meats and whole grains are best. Saltwater fish is also healthy because it contains iodine and protein, among other things. Your body needs more of both of these nutrients than usual while you're breastfeeding. To meet the increased need for protein, not only dairy products and fish are suitable, but also legumes such as peas and beans, as well as nuts and whole grains. For an adequate supply of iodine you should use iodized salt. Your doctor may even prescribe you iodine tablets to cover the increased need. You should avoid ready meals and fast food such as chips, pizza and burgers. They usually provide few nutrients, but large amounts of calories and unhealthy, saturated fats.
If you want to eat a vegetarian diet while breastfeeding, it's not a problem as long as you eat enough dairy and eggs. A vegan diet can be more difficult. You must pay very close attention to an adequate supply of certain nutrients. Otherwise, there are serious health risks for your child. They mainly concern the development of your baby’s nervous system. To prevent damage, you need to take a vitamin B12 supplement permanently. You should also make sure you're taking in enough of other important nutrients. Be sure to get advice from your doctor.
Contrary to what is often claimed, onions, cabbage, legumes and carbonated drinks do not cause flatulence in babies. So you can also eat them during breastfeeding without any problems. The same applies to strongly spiced, hot food or fruit acids. Most babies tolerate these well too.
You lose a lot of fluid when you produce breastmilk. That's why you should make sure to drink enough when you're breastfeeding. Tap water, mineral water and unsweetened herbal and fruit teas are best. The theory that so-called ‘breastfeeding teas’ are good for the quality and quantity of breastmilk has not been scientifically proven. Conversely, however, it is known that many of the herbs from which these teas are made contain harmful substances such as pesticide residue and heavy metals.
Coffee while breastfeeding is allowed. However, you should consume no more than two or at most three cups per day. It's best to drink your coffee right after breastfeeding. Then your body has plenty of time to break down the caffeine. It is important to know that caffeine is also found in other drinks such as cola, energy drinks and iced teas. Two cups of coffee are the equivalent of four cups of tea or one and a half servings of cola. Chocolate also contains caffeine, but only small amounts.
Just like during pregnancy, you should avoid drinking alcohol at all during breastfeeding. Some people believe a glass of sparkling wine will stimulate milk production. But this is wrong. In fact, alcohol can cause your body to produce less milk. If you drank alcohol, your breast milk will have the same alcohol content as your blood 30 to 60 minutes later. The milk is not free of alcohol until your body has completely broken it down. This can take several hours. Your baby usually can't wait for that, though. Very small babies want to nurse many times a day. Later, growth spurts can make your baby want to nurse more often again. So it's hard to predict exactly when your baby will require their next meal and whether the alcohol you drank will have worn off by then.
Smoking harms your child not only before but also after birth. Nicotine passes from the lungs via the blood into the mother's milk. As long as your child is young, it is best not to smoke at all or to smoke as little as possible.
After pregnancy and childbirth, many people feel that they have gained too much weight and now need to reduce. Don't pressure yourself about it. If you eat exactly as much as before, you will automatically lose weight. That's because you're moving more after giving birth and you're also breastfeeding your baby. If you still want to go on a diet, you should proceed cautiously and not lose more than two kilograms per month. It is very important that you consume more than 1800 kilocalories per day. Otherwise, your body will produce less milk for your baby.