Breastfeeding and nutrition: What foods should you eat while nursing?

When breastfeeding, it’s important for new parents to get plenty of nutrients! We all know eating a nutrient-rich diet promotes both your health and the health of your baby. Where things get a little fuzzy is the question of what exactly you should eat.

Experts recommend consulting a doctor about any dietary restrictions you may have and maintaining a diverse diet while breastfeeding. There are very few foods that nursing parents should not eat. Rather, the most important thing is to consume a wide variety of different foods. This not only ensures you’re getting the nutrients you and your baby need, but it can even help introduce your baby to different flavors! Here are five types of foods you should supplement your diet with while nursing. 

1. Protein-rich foods

Eating protein-rich foods can help promote milk production, according to the Mayo Clinic. Plus, protein-rich foods can also help pump up your energy levels! Eggs, dairy, lentils, beans and lean meats are all great sources of protein. Examples of protein-rich lean meats include white-meat chicken and turkey as well as lean beef. 

Fish is also a great source of protein, but nursing parents should use caution as it can contain mercury, which can harm your baby’s nervous system if consumed in excess, according to the Mayo Clinic. Avoid eating bigeye tuna, king mackerel, marlin, swordfish and other fish with high levels of mercury. Instead, seek out fish low in mercury and limit your seafood consumption to two or three times a week.

2. Vitamin-rich foods

It’s important to consume enough vitamins while nursing. If your body becomes depleted of certain vitamins, it will secrete less of those vitamins into your breastmilk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fortunately, you can eat plenty of vitamin-rich foods to ensure your vitamin levels are high enough. Nuts and fish are a good source of vitamins B1, B2 and B6, while carrots, leafy greens and sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamin A. Meanwhile, try incorporating some cod liver oil or oily fish into your diet to get plenty of vitamin D.

3. Healthy fats

Consuming healthy fats is a good way to up your calorie intake and increase your energy levels while breastfeeding. Examples of healthy fats include almonds, eggs, coconut, full-fat yogurt and walnuts. Many healthy fats also provide important nutrients, including antioxidants and omega-3s.

4. Fiber-rich foods

Fiber-rich foods are great for digestion and can help keep your blood sugar levels steady, according to Sanford Health. They also help you feel full for longer, which is great for busy new parents struggling to find time to eat regularly. Foods like potatoes, butternut squash, lentils, oats and quinoa are all fiber-rich foods that nursing parents might consider incorporating into their diets. 

5. Your favorite healthy foods

When it comes to breastfeeding and nutrition, the most important thing is to listen to your body and your doctor, the Mayo Clinic advises. If you’re concerned about not consuming enough nutrients, your doctor can tell you whether a multivitamin would be helpful. Beyond that, experts recommend eating the foods you enjoy, so long as they are rich in vitamins and nutrients. 

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