New Mom Survival Guide - Healthy Mom and Baby
Caring for your baby requires a lot of time and energy. The last thing you want is to collapse because you forgot to look after yourself as you focus on the baby’s needs. It is vital that you look after your own health while taking care of baby. It is important to get enough rest, eat healthy food and exercise to stay fit and healthy enough to take care of yourself and your family.
Diet While Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding requires you to eat healthy food. Breast milk is highly nutritious and that nutrition comes from the food that you eat. In most cases the quality of breast milk is not affected if your diet is average. If you lack certain nutrients, the body will break down its own stores of nutrients from the bones and the muscles, affecting the mother’s health. Therefore you must eat healthy foods so that you meet baby’s needs and your needs for nutrition.
Just as you ate healthy when you were pregnant, you have to continue to eat healthy after giving birth. Do not rush to lose weight through starvation diets and cutting down on calories. You must reserve your energy for looking after your baby and if the baby is particularly demanding, you need even more energy. The best way to eat is to have a balanced diet that is rich in plant foods.
Protein – Whether you eat a normal diet or a vegetarian or vegan diet, make sure you get enough protein in your diet. If you eat normal food then make sure you eat fish, seafood, chicken, beef, pork and lamb. If you are vegetarian or vegan make sure you continue to get sufficient essential amino acids by eating soy beans, soy products, lentils, various legumes or the right combinations of other foods.
Carbohydrates – the rule with carbohydrates is “moderation.” If you eat more carbohydrates than you need you will gain weight and possibly feel bad about it. If you skip carbohydrates completely you might not have enough energy to look after your baby. Eat just a bit to meet the day’s energy requirements
Fruits and vegetables – Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables during your mealtimes. Most of the nutrients (fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc.) that you need come from fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are the sources of fiber that you need to keep your digestive system moving and healthy. In fact they are very easy to digest, requiring little energy for digestion. Researchers have found that plant based foods contain certain chemicals, called phyto-chemicals, which are neither vitamins nor minerals, which benefit our bodies in different ways. For example, broccoli contains many anti-cancer compounds and it is high in antioxidants which protect against heart disease. A whole range of vegetables e.g. bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, carrots, collards, leeks, mustard greens, turnip greens, red beets, peppers, garlic, onions, and chives have been found to have cancer-preventing phyto-chemicals. There is no space to mention all fruits and vegetables and their phyto-chemicals, but the point is that you should eat plenty of them during breastfeeding.
Snacks – You can snack on fruits (no preparation required) or carrot and celery sticks with a dip or mixed nuts and seeds. These snacks ensure that you top up on nutrients while satisfying your hunger.
Essential fatty acids – You may want to create or buy mixed nuts and seeds and snack on them. If you eat a variety of nuts and seeds you basically get your omega 3, omega 6 (essential fatty acids) and omega 9 (your body can synthesize this if you consume enough omega-3s and omega-6s). Walnuts, Brazil nuts and almonds are tremendous immune system enhancers so make sure you include them in your mixed nuts and seeds. By the way, nuts should be eaten raw, as roasting makes them acidic and difficult to digest. Eat them raw with some raw veggies or chop and sprinkle them on a tossed salad. You can make nut milk, which you can drink or use for cooking and baking. This milk is easier to digest than dairy milk. Also cook with virgin olive oil, canola oil, grape seed oil and coconut oil to get all your essential fatty acids.
Alcohol – Studies have found that when a nursing mother drinks alcohol, it passes into the breast milk in the same concentration as alcohol found in her blood. Therefore that alcohol will affect the delicate baby. As a matter of fact studies have found breast milk to affect the baby’s motor development and sleep patterns and to reduce milk production. Therefore, should you happen to drink alcohol, you have to wait at least 2 hours before feeding the baby. Some people recommend that you pump and dump the milk after drinking alcohol. That is quite useful if the breasts are engorged with milk. (Mayo Clinic).
Caffeine – Studies have found that 1% of the caffeine that a nursing mother consumes finds its way to the breast milk and unfortunately babies cannot metabolize it as fast as the mother. Therefore the caffeine that the mother consumes might interfere with the baby’s sleep patterns. Therefore if you are breastfeeding reduce the consumption of coffee and other caffeinated beverages. You do not have to avoid them completely since small amounts of caffeine have not been found to affect the health of babies.
Cow milk – It has been found that cow’s milk eaten by mothers affects 2 to 6% of babies, producing rushes, eczema, vomiting, diarrhea and bloody stools. If that happens to your baby stop consuming cow’s milk for two weeks and then try it again. In many cases your baby will have outgrown the intolerance. However, if the baby reacts again then stop eating cow’s milk until after you wean your baby. Incidentally, cow’s milk is a possible cause of apnea. Unfortunately, 1 in 10 babies that suffer from recurrent apnea die in what is known as sudden infant death syndrome or crib death. Watch this video for more information and read more here.
In conclusion, eat a balanced diet with generous amounts of fruits vegetables, nuts and seeds to make sure that you have all the nutrients that you need. If you can, avoid alcohol and reduce the consumption of caffeine and dairy products until you have weaned your baby. You and your baby will be very healthy as a result and you will not need too many visits to the doctor.