1-Do I need more calories while breast-feeding?
Yes. Breast feeding burns calories. You need approximately an additional 350 to 400 calories a day, in case of exclusive breast feeding, to provide you with the sufficient energy and nutrients required to produce milk. Aim for healthy food choices in order to help fuel your milk production.
2- Which food should I focus on while breast-feeding?
• Focus on protein-rich foods, such as beans, lentils, seeds, lean meat, and seafood low in mercury. Animal protein when consumed should be hormone free and lean meat.
• Try to have 2 portions of fish per week. Oily fish are a great source of omega-3 fats which strengthen the heart and your baby’s brain development.
• Calcium & vitamin D rich food are essential to maintain your bone health.
• Choose a variety of whole grains. Eat one serving of wholegrain carbohydrates at each meal. Examples include brown rice, millet, quinoa, amaranth, bulgur
• Aim for 2-3 serving of fruits and 4-5 servings of vegetables daily.
3- How can I avoid overeating and decrease my food cravings?
Refrain from skipping meals and listen to your body’s hunger cues. Eat mindfully. Eat to your appetite. Chew slowly and enjoy your food.
4- How much fluid do I need while breast-feeding?
Aim for 3-4 Ls of water daily. Try drinking a glass of water at every breastfeed. Drink whenever you feel thirsty, and increase your water intake if your urine appears dark yellow.
5- Is there any food that could increase my milk flow?
Oats, almonds, sesame seeds, tahini, garlic & fennel have been reported to help increase the milk flow.
6-What about my daily cup of coffee or Tea?
Limit yourself to 1 cup of caffeinated drink a day. Caffeine in your breast milk might agitate the baby and interfere with his/her sleep. Caffeine passes from the mother to baby in small amounts through breast milk, but usually does not adversely affect the baby if you consume low to moderate amounts (about 300 milligrams or less per day, which is about 1 to 2 cups of coffee). Common dietary sources of caffeine include: coffee – tea – chocolate – sodas & energy drinks.
7- Can I drink alcohol occasionally while breast-feeding?
Unfortunately, no. There's no level of alcohol in breast milk that's considered safe for a baby. If you drink, avoid breast-feeding until the alcohol has completely cleared your breast milk.
8- Do I need to take any supplements?
To make sure you and your baby are getting all of the vitamins & minerals you need, your nutritionist might advise taking a postpartum multivitamin supplement until you wean your baby. If you don't eat fish, you might need an omega-3 supplement.
9- Is there any food that I should be cautious with while breast-feeding?
• Avoid seafood that’s high in mercury; swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, and albacore tuna (other types of tuna are fine)
• Some herbal drinks as parsley, peppermint & thyme might reduce the milk supply. Try to keep a diary of the foods that you experience an issue with.
• Try to avoid spirulina & spices as chili.
• Avoid any processed unnatural food.
10- Is it possible to follow a vegan diet while breast-feeding?
Yes, that’s possible. If you follow a vegan diet, it's essential to choose food that will provide you with the nutrients you need.
• Focus on food rich in iron; good sources of iron include lentils, chickpeas, beans, quinoa, dark leafy green vegetables, seeds, nuts and dried fruits. To help your body absorb iron from plant sources, combine iron-rich food with food high in vitamin C, such as bell peppers and citrus fruits. For instance; add lemon juice on lentils & spinach to enhance the iron absorption by the body.
• Try to have enough protein; plant sources include; legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
• Focus on calcium rich food; dark green vegetables, seeds, nuts & dried fruits.
• Consider taking vitamin B-12 supplement; Vitamin B-12 is found almost exclusively in animal products, so it's difficult to get enough in vegan diets.