The breastfeeding period is very important for the newborn who receives, through breast milk, all the nutrients he needs to develop.
For this reason, many mothers are concerned about food, since everything they eat directly impacts the milk produced.
So, what to consume and what to avoid to produce a healthy breast milk for the child? The Healthy Minute informs you in this text!
What to eat while breastfeeding?
A woman’s diet during breastfeeding does not need to be restricted. However, it is advisable to give priority to the consumption of natural foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, cereals and meats.
These groups contain more vitamins (such as those of the B complex , especially folic acid ), mineral salts (mainly iron and calcium), carbohydrates and proteins , which are essential for the development of the baby.
Unlike processed and industrialized foods, such as snacks, sweets, fried foods, soft drinks, among others, which should be avoided during this period.
However, this does not mean eliminating these foods completely from the routine, but rather betting on moderation.
It is important to note that each organism is unique, that is, there is no rule that must be followed by all lactating women in relation to food.
Therefore, a nutritionist can be consulted to clarify doubts and indicate foods that are nutritious and do not cause a reaction to the mother or baby.
Thinking about it, some of the foods that can be indicated and that are beneficial for breast milk are:
Water consumption throughout the day is essential for moms, because fluid replacement is important for milk production (about 87% of breast milk is water).
Normally, it is recommended to drink about 3 liters or more, depending on the woman’s thirst. So it is always good to have a body of water close by.
Breastfeeding women often feel very hungry throughout the day. Therefore, bananas are an excellent option due to the presence of insoluble fibers, which take longer to be digested, and give greater satiety.
The banana is also rich in B vitamins that aid in the activities of the nervous system.
In addition, it is a source of energy for the body, as it contains natural sugars such as fructose, glucose and sucrose.
Carrots are a source of vitamins (A, B, C, K), minerals (potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium) and also beta-carotene that acts as an antioxidant, protecting the body’s cells.
In addition, it contains few calories, being only 40Kcal per 100g, and is considered a food that stimulates milk production.
The potato is a very common food in the routine, as it is one of the main sources of starch, a type of carbohydrate used as a source of energy by the body.
Therefore, moms can consume it in a moderate way so that their body has more energy to produce milk.
The apple is a fruit that has a high concentration of vitamins B1, B2, B3 and also mineral salts, such as phosphorus and iron.
It provides a feeling of satiety, due to insoluble fibers, which are more difficult to digest. Thus, they remain in the intestine for a longer time and consequently reduce hunger.
In addition to the conventional way, it is possible to add it to the food routine through the consumption of vinegar, tea and pasta such as apple cake.
Rich in B vitamins, beta-carotene and mineral salts, such as phosphorus and potassium, pumpkin can be a good option for feeding the lactating mother.
In addition, it is possible to consume it in several ways, such as roasted with a shrimp cream inside, puree (quibebe) and pumpkin jam.
This vegetable can be a great option for lactating women due to the high concentration of vitamins present in it, especially those of the B complex (B1, B2, B5, B6, B9).
Vitamin B9 or folic acid is very important for babies, as it acts in the development of the child’s nervous and brain systems and also helps in the prevention of degenerative diseases.
In addition to being nutritious, beets are a very versatile food that can be included in the diet in various ways, raw, cooked, in salads, soups, or juices.
Orange is rich in mineral salts such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and also vitamins, especially vitamin C, which is essential for strengthening immunity and preventing mother’s diseases.
For this reason, lactating women can include oranges in the diet routine, strengthening the immune system and ensuring greater resistance during this very important phase.
Cabbage, watercress, spinach, arugula, cabbage are some options of green vegetables that can be included in the diet of the breastfeeding woman.
Green leaves are a source of vitamins (A, B, C, E) and mineral salts (iron, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium) that help to protect cells, in metabolic activities, and provide increased disposition.
There are different ways to add green leaves to the routine, such as in salads, pie fillings and juices.
Avocado is recommended for lactating women as it is an excellent source of good fats.
It helps in the control of cholesterol, is good for the heart, aids in the proper functioning of the intestine and helps to decrease the stress hormone (cortisol).
Avocado can be consumed in both sweet recipes, such as vitamins and desserts, as well as savory pates and purees to serve as an accompaniment for afternoon snacks.
The Brazil nut is a food from the group of oilseeds, rich mainly in mineral salts such as potassium, phosphorus and selenium.
It helps prevent cardiovascular disease and increases the mother’s immunity. This is because the physical and mental wear and tear, common in motherhood, can affect the mother’s immune system.
Although it is a source of many nutrients, it is necessary to pay attention to the amount of consumption, the ideal being 2 to 3 nuts per day (due to the concentration of selenium, which cannot exceed 400mcg).
Although some lactating women have to cut off milk and milk products, if there is no restriction, others can consume these foods without problems.
Yogurt, for example, is rich in calcium, vitamins, proteins and probiotics, which are good bacteria that help in the regulation of intestinal flora. In addition, they are easy to consume and some are enriched with other vitamins.
The beans are rich in different nutrients such as iron (5g to 100g of food), vitamins (especially B complex) and fiber.
Therefore, daily consumption can prevent iron deficiency anemia , improve the absorption of other nutrients and increase essential metabolic activities for breastfeeding women.
However, the consumption of beans by some women can cause gas and colic in the baby who receives breast milk.
Rice is a source of nutrients that promote energy for the mother’s body, such as amino acids and carbohydrates.
It is a common food on the table of the Brazilian population, which makes it ideal for maintaining the dietary routine. In addition, together with beans, it makes up a complete combination of amino acids.
Chicken is rich in protein, which is extremely beneficial for lactating mothers, since an increase of between 15g and 25g of protein is recommended for those who breastfeed.
In addition, eating poultry meat is a way to obtain this nutrient in a healthier way, since some cuts of beef tend to be rich in saturated fats, which can raise cholesterol in the body.
Therefore, balancing meat consumption, prioritizing poultry, is a way to maintain adequate levels of fat in the body.
The egg is considered by many people to be a complete food because it has several nutrients that are essential for the body.
In particular, proteins, vitamins and good fats that help prevent disease and increase immunity.
Depending on the feeding routine, the lactating mother can consume up to 2 eggs per day.
Some fish are not suitable for women who breastfeed due to the concentration of mercury, which can affect the baby and delay its development.
However, salmon is considered healthy for moms, as it does not contain a high rate of this substance. Thus, it is a way to obtain proteins on a daily basis.
In general, it is recommended to consume a maximum of 2 times a week and preferably cooked (to ensure that there are no bacteria).
Women who are used to eating raw salmon, as in sushi, can continue to consume it while breastfeeding.
However, taking care of the origin and hygiene of the food is indispensable.
To assist in the preparation of food, olive oil can be a great choice, since it is a source of healthy fat with antioxidant action, aiding in the health of the skin.
Olive oil also helps with weight control and the prevention of type 2 diabetes .
What to avoid while breastfeeding?
No food is completely prohibited during breastfeeding (unless there is an express recommendation from doctors or nutritionists). However, it is indicated to avoid the excess of some that can provoke reactions in the baby.
Therefore, it is important that the mother is attentive to changes that the child may have, such as colic, diarrhea, gas or allergies, which may have been caused by some food consumed by her.
If this is the reason, the food to be identified should be removed from the breastfeeding menu.
In general, the foods that should be consumed in moderation are:
Although cow’s milk is a source of important proteins and minerals for the body, adequate consumption (large quantities) can cause colic in the baby.
Therefore, it is recommended to drink only 2 glasses of milk a day.
Caffeine is a substance present (in addition to coffee itself) in cola, black , matte and green tea, energy drinks, among other beverages.
According to some studies, if the mother consumes some of these drinks, the amount of caffeine that can pass into breast milk is insignificant (less than 1%). However, if consumption is too high, caffeine can affect the baby’s sleep.
This is because caffeine acts on the nervous system by decreasing the production of adenosine, which is a kind of natural brain tranquilizer.
Due to this effect, it is recommended to consume reduced amounts of caffeinated beverages, to prevent the baby from losing sleep and being irritated.
Some condiments or seasonings used in food preparation, such as pepper, saffron, garlic, among others, can influence the flavor of milk (if used in excess).
Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the amount of spices considered strong in the preparation of soups, salads, meats, etc. When using, it is also worth to prefer the natural ones and avoid the ready ones.
Fried foods, sweets, snacks, stuffed cookies, among other processed foods should be consumed in small quantities during the breastfeeding phase, as they are few nutritious and rich in sugar, bad fats and sodium.
In addition, they usually contain many chemicals such as preservatives and dyes to preserve the taste of the food.
If consumed in excess, these foods can cause diarrhea or vomiting in the mother, which in more severe cases cause dehydration (very harmful to milk production).
Legumes such as beans, lentils, peas, are rich in important nutrients during breastfeeding.
However, some babies may experience an increase in gas if the mother consumes these foods in excess.
In this way, it is possible to consult a nutritionist to consume in a fractional way throughout the day and vary between the types of legumes.
But, if the gas formation still continues, it may be necessary to cut this group out of the routine for a while.
Why is it important to take care of the feeding of the breastfeeding mother?
The care with food during the breastfeeding period is important because it is one of the most responsible for the maintenance of body functions. In addition, eating is a social and affective act. Thus, during feeding, the mother feels pleasure, explores flavors and even participates in a social moment.
All of this is indispensable for her relationship with the baby. And, thinking about the well-being aspect, the more moments of pleasure the woman has, the better her physical and mental health will be to take care of the little one.
In general, a woman can produce about 1L of milk per day, which requires a lot of energy from her body and consequently generates a lot of hunger and thirst.
In addition, what the mother eats ends up influencing the milk the baby receives. Therefore, the need to consume food sources of essential nutrients for the body, such as minerals, vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, among others.
To assemble a menu properly, a pediatrician or / and nutritionist can be consulted.
Menu for breastfeeding
To set up a menu suitable for the breastfeeding period, it is necessary to consult a nutritionist. This way it is possible to build a balanced diet with different options for everyday life.
However, some foods for daily meals that can be indicated by this professional are:
Being the first meal of the day, breakfast is very important to provide the necessary energy for moms to do their activities.
Some options for healthy coffee are:
- Wholemeal bread, toast, crackers;
- 1 slice of white cheese and / or ham;
- A portion of fruit (apple, melon, papaya, strawberry, banana, etc.);
- 1 cup (200mL) of skimmed milk or yogurt;
To build a healthy lunch dish, it is important to include foods that are a source of protein and carbohydrates.
In addition, adding a portion of vegetables that contain vitamins and minerals is also essential for the breastfeeding woman’s meal.
Therefore, some ideas are:
- 2 or 3 tablespoons of brown rice and green beans;
- Mashed potatoes, manioc or pumpkin;
- Green leaf salad with shredded chicken;
- Natural fruit juice (orange, pineapple, acerola, passion fruit, etc.).
Small snacks made during the day, such as in the afternoon, should also preferably contain light and healthy foods such as fruits and whole products, which are sources of fiber.
Some practical and quick options are:
- 1 slice of wholemeal cake;
- Fruit smoothie with natural yogurt;
- Half mashed avocado.
- 2 chestnuts from Pará.
Being the last main meal of the day, dinner can be made in a similar way to lunch, with foods that are sources of nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, among others.
The options to include in this meal are:
- A portion of roasted fish (salmon, sardines, tuna, etc.);
- Omelet with chives and parsley;
- Vegetable salad like carrot, chayote, zucchini, with olive oil;
- Wholegrain noodles;
- 400mL of flavored water (lemon, ginger, mint, basil, etc.).
Supper, or “evening snack”, is an optional meal of the day, which is made after dinner.
As it is carried out before bed, it is recommended that light and small amounts of food and drinks are consumed to avoid problems of poor digestion, which consequently disturb sleep.
In this way it is possible to choose:
- 1 mashed banana with cinnamon and coconut sugar
- 1 cup of tea (chamomile, lemon balm, mint, etc.)
- Toast or crackers.
Taking care of food is always important, especially when you want to ensure the health of the mother and the healthy development of the baby.
To have access to other information about the health of women and children, keep following the Healthy Minute!