Breastfeeding Diet Basics, According To A Registered Dietitian

1. Include Low Mercury Fish In Your Diet Two Times A Week

Experts agree that including fish that contain lower levels of methylmercury in your breastfeeding diet is one of the most important things you can do to fuel your body with important DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids, nutrients that play important roles in baby’s health. Specifically, DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that is essential for the brain and vision development of your baby.

Adequate DHA omega-3 fatty acids may benefit a lactating mama as well, as some data suggests that taking in adequate amounts during the postpartum stage may have a protective effect against postpartum depression symptoms and promote overall wellness.

Fish also provides important micronutrients that are important to consume in adequate amounts during the lactation stage, including iodine, selenium, and vitamin B12.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that breastfeeding mothers take in 200 to 300 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per day. They also recommend that this population. eat 1-2 servings of fish per week, with sustainably caught or raised fish and shellfish offering the best choices. Similarly, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans includes a suggestion that breastfeeding women consume between 9 and 12 ounces per week of a variety of seafood from choices that are lower in mercury.

When selecting your fish, picking options that are lower in methylmercury is an important step to consider. Methylercury is a naturally occurring element that can be found in our water sources, and therefore can accumulate in the fish we eat. This metal, when consumed in large amounts, is toxic to the nervous system and can result in negative effects on the brain and nervous system development of a baby.

Safe Catch is the only brand of seafood to test every Elite skipjack tuna and salmon to a mercury limit 10X and25x more strict than the FDA action limit, respectively. Plus, these fish options meets Consumer Report’s “low mercury criteria” set for vulnerable populations like pregnant women and young children and it is the official Seafood of the American Pregnancy Association. Safe Catch also uses Certified Sustainable fishing practices through the Marine Stewardship Council where Safe Catch tuna and salmon are internationally certified to the MSC fisheries standard of sustainability.

2. Focus On Important Micronutrients

Your breast milk naturally contains nutrients that your baby needs in order to grow and thrive. And while certain nutrients are found in your milk regardless of what you eat, other nutrient levels are dependent on your intake — meaning that if your diet is low in certain quantities of key nutrients, your breastmilk may not have the most ideal levels.

Choline, iodine, selenium, and vitamin A are key nutrients that lactating moms should ensure they are consuming enough of. Great foods to include in a breastfeeding diet that supply at least one of these nutrients include:

3. Consume Caffeine in Moderation

Unlike during pregnancy, when some experts say that sticking to a maximum of 200 mg of caffeine every day is recommended, you can include a good amount of this stimulant in your breastfeeding diet, as very low amounts of mom’s caffeine intake are transferred to the breast milk. As such, moderate amounts of caffeine do not appear to be as large of a concern as it was during pregnancy. So, feel free to enjoy your morning cup of Joe when you are lactating — you may still want to hold off on the triple espresso lattes though until you are finished with your lactation journey.

The Right Nutrients For A Healthy Breastfeeding Journey

When a mother is breastfeeding, her dietary choices become incredibly important in order to support not only her health and wellness but also her baby’s growth and development. Choosing the right foods to eat, like Safe Catch Elite Wild Tuna and other lower-mercury fish options, lots of produce, and eggs, can help ensure mom is getting what she needs and the breast milk being fed to baby is as nutrient-dense as possible. Prioritizing your diet when you are caring for a newborn may not be the easiest thing to do, but in the long run, doing so may be one of the best things you can do for both yourself and for your baby.

Lauren Manaker – MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, CPT
Registered Dietitian, Certified Lactation Educator-Counselor, Freelance Writer, Dietitian Spokesperson, Media Dietitian