Protein and Breastfeeding – How Much Do You Need?04.16.2020
If you’re a breastfeeding Mumma, it’s important that you’re getting enough calories and nutrients each day for quality milk production and good energy levels. But how much should you really be eating, and which nutrients are important for your health and the health of your growing baby too?
Focus on protein:
We need protein at all ages and stages of life so that our body can build, repair and maintain muscles, connective tissue, our skin and organs. As a new Mum, getting enough protein postpartum is especially important to help your body recover from the strain of pregnancy and childbirth, plus support your energy levels. New babies also require protein for good growth and immune cell function. Regardless of activity level, your requirements during lactation increase to support your milk supply and your baby’s growth. It’s recommended to get around 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of total body weight if you’re breastfeeding. As an example, this means if you weigh 70kg, you will need around 98g of protein each day.
Up your calorie intake:
It takes a lot of energy to make quality milk for your baby. While everyone is different, it’s estimated that breastfeeding mums need around 500 extra calories per day. The exact number of calories you need all depends on your weight and activity level as well as your baby’s age, size and appetite. Listen to your body, and make sure that you’re eating a varied diet of whole foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables to ensure you’re getting the extra nutrients and calories you need.
Drink enough water:
It’s common to feel thirsty, or more thirsty than usual when you’re breastfeeding. When your baby latches onto your breast, the hormone oxytocin is released. This causes an increased feeling of thirst, which is your body’s natural way of making sure you’re getting enough water to stay hydrated and have a healthy milk supply – isn’t the body amazing!? As a general rule, drink water when you’re thirsty and drink more if your urine is dark yellow when you go to the bathroom.
Other important nutrients:
Nutrients including calcium, iron and folate are all essential nutrients for pregnancy and breastfeeding that can easily become depleted. Make sure you’re eating a varied wholefood diet and including foods such as dark leafy green vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, nuts and seeds.