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Your Nutritional Needs While Breastfeeding

Make sure you get enough nutrients ¿ not just more calories ¿ when you're breastfeeding your baby.
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In addition, Hanna says it's also important to get enough protein and fat in your diet. Aim for at least three to five servings (1 ounce each) of fat a day. These could be vegetable oils, butter, or even mayonnaise.

This, she says, will help your body to make a good supply of the super-fatty and satisfying "hind" milk that is expressed during the later half of each feeding, Hanna says.

"In the end we are talking about eating a balanced diet, with complex carbohydrates, protein, and fats, and with as little sugar and sugary snacks as possible," says Hanna.

  Among the most important nutrients you need while breastfeeding is calcium -- a minimum of 1,000 mg daily is a must. While dairy foods are a great source, you don't have to drink milk to make milk. To meet your calcium needs, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests five daily servings of any calcium-rich food, including low-fat yogurt and cheese, as well as nondairy foods such as salmon, broccoli, sesame seeds, tofu, and kale.

Do You Need Nutritional Supplements While Breastfeeding?

As long as you are eating a healthy, nutritious diet, neither you nor your baby are likely to fall short of any vitamins or minerals. If you also continue to take your prenatal vitamins after birth -- which many obstetricians now recommend -- then you and your baby are in even better shape.

 The one supplement your baby mightneed is vitamin D, necessary to absorb calcium into the bones, says Carol Huotari, IBCLC, manager for the Center for Breastfeeding information at La Leche League International in Schaumburg, Ill. Vitamin D is in breast milk, but in low amounts.

 What can you do? The sun naturally converts certain body chemicals tovitamin D, so Huotari suggests taking baby outside for about a half hour each day. "If your baby gets about 20 minutes of sun exposure on their cheeks once a day, then they are probably getting enough vitamin D," she says.

  But be careful about exposing your baby to too much sun, which can cause sunburn and raise baby's risk of skin cancer in later life. If you're uncertain about what to do, talk to your pediatrician about this issue, and ask about the proper dose and type of vitamin D supplements for your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises daily drops of vitamin D for all breastfed babies.

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