Breastfeeding and Vegetarianism
Nursing your baby can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. While your body produced everything your baby needed before he was born, everything happened where you couldn't see. After your baby is born, your body still is prepared to take care of him. While nursing, not everything you eat makes it to your baby the way it did when you were pregnant. Still, you do need to eat appropriate meals in order to make sure your baby gets all of the nutrients and calories he needs. If you are a vegetarian you may wonder if you can eat enough variety to feed your baby amply. Following are a few things to keep in mind while nursing your baby on a vegetarian diet.
You are well aware of the nutrition that your own body needs to function at its best. You prepare vegetarian meals with a variety of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. You may be continuing to take your prenatal vitamins also while nursing. This step is simple. Just keep making your meals varied and nutrient packed. In order for your body to maintain itself as well as to pass on nourishing milk to your child, you need to give it the right ingredients. Vegetarian meals may include such things as tofu, cheese, pasta, risotto, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, tuna, and beans. You should check with your pediatrician before eating fresh cheeses and drinking alcohol. Carrots and tuna fish are especially good sources of nutrition for you and your baby.
The second step in ensuring that your baby gets the most nourishment that he can from your breast milk is to eat enough. On average, women need to consume 500 calories more than they do while they are not nursing or pregnant. These 500 calories should, again, be nourishing calories, not just an extra dessert every day. You do not need to avoid dessert all together, as it is an easy source of fat and sugar. Those are things that you and your baby need, just not in large amounts. There are also healthier fats and sugars to be eaten. Another thing to make sure you get enough of is water. You will probably find that you will need more than the usual recommended 64 ounces per day. Without sufficient water in your diet your milk supply will dwindle. You may be fooled into thinking that the deficiency is due to your vegetarian diet, but it will more likely be an issue of dehydration.
There is no reason for a vegetarian to change her diet while nursing. The only changes that should occur will have to do with nutrition and amount. You will need to be more stringent with nutritional content. You will also need to make sure that you consume more calories and fluids overall in order to ensure milk supply. Breast milk is the best nutrition you can give your baby early in life. It is definitely OK to maintain your vegetarian diet, but you do need to take steps to protect your milk supply and therefore your baby's health.
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