If you’re a breastfeeding mother, you’re probably already familiar with the importance of staying hydrated and eating healthy to provide your baby with the best supply of nutrients possible as he or she grows. In fact, the dietary recommendations for nursing mothers are quite similar to the recommendations during pregnancy, except during lactation your body can need an extra 500 calories! To take care of those calories and help them pack the biggest nutritional punch, consider these superfoods–whether you’re nursing or not!
Photo credit: F Deventhal
While the recommended calcium intake for nursing mothers is the same as for other women (1000mg), it’s especially important for new mothers to meet that recommendation in order to rebuild bone density that may have been lost during pregnancy, on top of adequately fortifying milk stores. Dark, leafy greens are a great source of calcium, and also provide many other vitamins and minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Collard greens are an especially fantastic source: for just a one-cup serving, they contain 268mg of calcium! Collard greens are also high in Vitamin A, containing 288% of the daily value.
Photo credit: Janine
Yellow and Orange Fruits and Vegetables
Vitamin C is important for both mother and baby in promoting the growth and repair of many different types of tissues throughout the body. Since Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, the amount of this vitamin available in a mother’s breast milk is more closely related to the amount the mother herself consumes. While many fruits and vegetables contain Vitamin C, some of the highest levels tend to be found in those of yellow or orange color, such as yellow bell pepper (a whopping 568% of the daily value per large pepper!), papaya (147% per cup), pineapple (131% per cup), mango (100% per cup), and cantaloupe (97% per cup).
Photo credit: Andrea Nguyen
In order to avoid anemia for either mother or baby, especially in the earliest stages of life, it’s important for the nursing mother to have enough iron in her diet. Tofu is an excellent plant source of iron, carrying about 36% of the daily value in only half a cup. Tofu is also high in calcium (43% of the daily value) and offers an easy boost of plant-based protein at 10g per serving. As tofu is made from soybeans, one of the most genetically modified crops in the country, opting for organic is the way to go. The body absorbs iron most effectively when there is enough Vitamin C, so pair some tofu with one of the orange or yellow fruits listed above to achieve the fullest absorption possible!
Nursing is an incredibly special–and sometimes challenging–part of the relationship between you and your beautiful new baby. Enjoy it while enjoying all the tasty foods that can provide you both with the nutrition you need.
Written by Lauren Mesaros