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Health and nutrition for women while breastfeeding

Do I need to eat more while breastfeeding?

The most important thing is to eat a healthy diet. The number of calories you need depends on your age, weight, height, and how active you are. Breastfeeding might help you lose weight after pregnancy if you breastfeed for at least 6 months.

Do I need to drink more water while breastfeeding?

Yes. It's important to make sure to drink enough fluids while you are breastfeeding. To make sure that you drink enough, always drink when you feel thirsty. If you have a dry mouth or dark-colored urine, you probably need to drink more. It might be helpful to keep water or another non-caffeine drink nearby when you breastfeed.

Do I need to take vitamins while breastfeeding?

It depends on what your usual diet is like. If you eat meat and fish, you probably do not need to take a daily vitamin. But if you eat a vegan diet (no meat, chicken, fish, or dairy foods), you should take a daily vitamin that has Vitamin B12 in it. Some women need to take an iron supplement. Supplements are pills, capsules, liquids, or tablets that have nutrients in them. Your doctor might prescribe a daily iron supplement if you have a condition called "anemia" after you give birth. It's also important to make sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D each day. Calcium and vitamin D help keep your bones strong. Different foods and drinks have calcium and vitamin D. But most women do not get enough through their diet alone. So unless you drink a lot of milk (more than 3 servings a day), you will probably need to take a supplement, too.

Are there foods I should avoid while breastfeeding?

Yes. You will need to avoid certain types of fish while you are breastfeeding. That's because some types of fish have a lot of mercury in them. Mercury is a substance that can pass through the breast milk to the baby. It can cause problems with a baby's brain and nervous system. Fish that have a lot of mercury include: ●Shark ●Swordfish ●King mackerel ●Tilefish Other types of fish and seafood do not have as much mercury. In fact, these are healthy for both you and your baby. Doctors recommend that women who breastfeed eat these types of fish and seafood about 2 times a week. They include: ●Shrimp ●Salmon ●Catfish Are there medicines I should avoid while breastfeeding?

It depends. Let your doctor know if you take any medicines. He or she can make sure that those medicines are safe to take when breastfeeding. Some medicines can affect the amount of breast milk your body makes. It's a good idea to talk to your doctor before taking any new medicines.

Can I drink alcohol if I am breastfeeding?

If you drink, some alcohol does pass through your breast milk to your baby. After you have 1 drink, it takes about 2 hours for your body to get rid of the alcohol. Because of this, most doctors recommend having only an occasional drink that has the same amount of alcohol found in a single glass of wine. They also recommend that women wait 2 hours after having a drink before they breastfeed.

Can I drink caffeine if I am breastfeeding?

Some caffeine can pass through your breast milk to the baby. Some babies can get fussy or have trouble sleeping from the caffeine if the mother drinks more than 3 cups of coffee per day.

Can I smoke if I am breastfeeding?

No, you should avoid smoking while you are breastfeeding. In fact, all mothers of newborn infants should stop smoking. That's because babies whose parents smoke can have breathing problems, lung infections, or ear infections. Also, smoking might reduce the amount of milk that your body makes.

What if I have questions?

If you have any questions about nutrition and breastfeeding, ask your doctor. Some women also find it helpful to work with a breastfeeding expert, called a "lactation consultant."

Sharing patient education information from licensed clinical decision resource support UpToDate.

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