It is especially important to nourish your body with a variety of foods and stay hydrated to help keep your energy levels up. Your body needs extra calories to make milk.
Finding Time and Energy
For many moms, finding the time and energy to make nutritious meals is challenging, and they worry their diet will affect the quality of their breastmilk. But no matter what you eat, your body always makes nutrient-rich breastmilk specially designed for your baby.
After childbirth, you need the vitamins and minerals from food to help your body heal. Here are great tips for foods from WIC that will help you recover.
Build Your Plate
Fruits and Vegetables
Fill 1/2 of your plate with fruits and vegetables to get the important vitamins and minerals your body needs. Choose a variety of colors like yellow, red, green and purple for your plate.
Add Some Color to Your Plate
Crunch on celery, carrots, apples or sliced cucumbers for an easy on-the-go snack. Add nut butters, salad dressings or cream cheese for added flavor.
Eat soups, smoothies and sauces packed with a variety of fruits or veggies.
Add frozen or canned vegetables to meals for a quick side dish.
Dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt are great sources of vitamin D and calcium to keep your bones strong. A serving of dairy could be an 8 oz glass of milk, 1 cup of yogurt or 1.5 oz of cheese (size of 3 dominoes). If you’re breastfeeding, aim for three servings of dairy each day.
Load Up on Calcium
Mix fruit with yogurt or cottage cheese for a speedy breakfast.
Add cheese to sandwiches, wraps or salads.
If you cannot or prefer not to drink cow’s milk, add fortified soy milk, tofu, beans or cooked greens to your meals.
Whole grains can be found in items like cereal, bread, pasta and tortillas. When making meals, fill ¼ of your plate with whole grains to give your body energy. The fiber found in whole grains can be particularly helpful after childbirth to prevent constipation.
More Grains = More Energy
Spread peanut butter or hummus on whole grain toast for an easy snack.
Try a whole grain tortilla and cheese quesadilla for a simple lunch.
Make a large batch of oatmeal or brown rice to eat throughout the week.
Meat, eggs, beans and tofu have protein and iron which help keep your muscles and blood strong and healthy. Women commonly have low iron levels around childbirth, so it is important to eat plenty of iron-rich foods. Try to make ¼ of your plate a protein-rich food.
Powered by Protein
Pair your favorite iron-rich food with citrus fruit to help your body absorb the iron. Make an omelet with eggs, tomato and spinach. Enjoy orange slices with a turkey sandwich.
For a quick meal, try canned beans or scrambled eggs instead of meat.
Use kitchen gadgets like slow cookers or pressure cookers to make low-effort meals, such as chili, baked beans or a pot roast.
Fish have healthy fats that protect your body’s cells and tissues. These fats may also help reduce inflammation in the body. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, fish is an especially great option.
Fuel Up with Healthy Fats
Include 8-12 oz of low mercury fish or shellfish per week.
Examples include canned light tuna, shrimp, salmon, pollock, catfish, canned mackerel, tilapia, mahi mahi, scallops, crab, lobster, sardines and anchovies.
It’s important to limit fish that are high in mercury.
Limit albacore tuna, tuna steaks and freshwater fish caught by family and friends to 6 oz a week. Avoid bigeye tuna, king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish and tilefish.
If you are vegetarian or don’t eat fish, try adding unsalted nuts and seeds like peanuts, almonds, walnuts or pumpkin seeds to meals as an alternate source of healthy fats.
Get Healthy Recipes from WIC
TexasWIC.org has tasty, nutritious recipes for the whole family. Easy-to-follow instructions and videos will help you keep your family eating healthy from breakfast through dinner and all the snacks in between!
Advice From a WIC Dietitian
Michelle L., a WIC registered dietitian, shares her tips for eating well.
Pair different foods together for snacks, like whole grain crackers and cheese, fruit slices and peanut butter or a hardboiled egg and your favorite vegetable.
Drink to satisfy your thirst. Keep a water bottle nearby and sip on it while you nurse your baby. Caffeinated beverages are safe in small amounts, but do not have more than three small cups of coffee per day.
Don’t hesitate to ask family and friends for help with grocery shopping and cooking.
Prepare meals in advance and freeze them so they are ready to go on busy days. Casseroles, soups and cooked meat can be frozen for up to three months.
Nutrition doesn’t just mean food. Make sure to find time for yourself, even if it’s just sitting down to enjoy your favorite snack.
Does My Baby Eat What I Eat?
Yes! Flavors from foods you eat can pass through your breastmilk and introduce your baby to new tastes. Eat a wide variety of foods, including spices and seasonings, as this will help your baby become familiar with the flavors of the foods your family eats.
Unless your health care provider tells you differently, you do not need to avoid common food allergens like eggs, nuts or dairy while you are breastfeeding. If you think your baby has a food sensitivity or allergy, talk to your health care provider and a lactation consultant. Many times, they can work with you to make small changes to your diet that will allow you to continue breastfeeding with ease.
Take a WIC Nutrition Class
WIC’s online classes make it easy for moms to learn about breastfeeding, pumping, what to eat during pregnancy, and a variety of other topics. “Click and learn” classes are available anytime for moms to take at their own pace. “Live classes” are 30-60 minutes long and offered at set days and times. You can chat with other parents and WIC experts in real time.