12 Foods for New Moms

As a new mom, one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby is to eat a healthy diet.

Even though you may be in a hurry to lose those pregnancy pounds, regularly eating foods that boost energy for new moms will give you the stamina you need to be the best mom you can be. That's because eating nutrient rich foods at regular intervals throughout the day can maximize the little energy you probably have as a new mom.

And for nursing moms, it's important to know that the quality of your breast milk stays pretty much the same no matter what you choose to eat. That's because if you aren't getting the needed nutrients from your diet, your body will provide them from your own stores. But for your own well-being, it's best to make sure you're obtaining the nutrients your baby needs by incorporating a variety of healthy breastfeeding foods in your nursing mom food plan.

If you make sure the following 12 foods for new moms are a regular part of your diet, your body -- and your baby -- will thank you.

1. Salmon

There's no such thing as a perfect food. But salmon is pretty close when it comes to a nutritional powerhouse for new moms. One of the best breastfeeding foods out there, salmon, like other fatty fish, is loaded with a type of fat called DHA. DHA is crucial to the development of your baby's nervous system. All breast milk contains DHA, but levels of this essential nutrient are higher in the milk of women who get more DHA from their diets.

The DHA in salmon may also help your mood. Studies suggest it may play a role in preventing postpartum depression.

One caution: FDA guidelines say breastfeeding women should limit consumption of fish lower in mercury to 12 ounces per week because of potential exposure to mercury. Salmon is considered to have a low mercury content when compared to other types of fish, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish.

2. Low-Fat Dairy Products

Whether you prefer yogurt, milk, or cheese, dairy products are an important part of healthy breastfeeding. In addition to providing protein, B vitamins, and vitamin D, dairy products are one of the best sources of calcium. If you're breastfeeding, your milk is loaded with calcium to help your baby's bones develop, so it's important for you to eat enough calcium to meet your own needs. One way to do that is to include at least three servings of dairy each day as part of your diet.

3. Lean Beef

When you're looking for foods to boost your energy as a new mom, seek out iron-rich foods like lean beef. A deficiency of iron can drain your energy levels, making it hard for you to keep up with the demands of a newborn baby.

Also, when you're nursing, you need to eat extra protein and vitamin B-12. Lean beef is an excellent source for both of these nutrients.

4. Legumes

Beans, especially dark-colored ones like black beans and kidney beans, are a great breastfeeding food, especially for vegetarians. Not only are they rich in iron, they're a budget-friendly source of high quality, non-animal protein.

5. Blueberries

Breastfeeding moms should be sure to get two or more servings of fruit or juice each day. Antioxidant-rich blueberries are an excellent choice to help you meet your needs. These satisfying and yummy berries are filled with good-for-you vitamins and minerals and will give you a healthy dose of carbohydrates to keep your energy levels high.

6. Brown Rice

If you're attempting to lose the baby weight, you might be tempted to drastically cut back on your carbohydrate consumption. But losing weight too quickly may cause you to produce less milk for the baby and leave you feeling lethargic and sluggish. It's better to incorporate healthy, whole-grain carbs like brown rice in your diet to keep your energy levels up. And foods like brown rice provide your body with the calories it needs to produce the best quality milk for your baby.

7. Oranges

Portable and nutritious, oranges are a great food to boost energy for new moms. Since nursing moms need even more vitamin C than pregnant women, oranges and other citrus fruits are an excellent breastfeeding food, too. Can't find time to sit down to a snack? Sip on some orange juice as you go about your day -- you'll get the vitamin C benefit and can even opt for calcium-fortified varieties to get even more benefit from your beverage.

8. Eggs

Egg yolk is one of the few natural sources of vitamin D -- an essential nutrient to keep your bones strong and help your baby's bones grow. Beyond that, eggs are a versatile way to meet your daily protein needs. Try scrambling up a couple of eggs for breakfast, tossing a hard-boiled egg or two on your lunchtime salad, or having an omelet and salad for dinner. As part of your diet, you might even opt for DHA-fortified eggs to increase the level of this essential fatty acid in your milk

9. Whole-Wheat Bread

Folic acid is crucial to your baby's development in the early stages of pregnancy. But its importance doesn't end there. Folic acid is an important nutrient in your breast milk that your baby needs for good health. And it's crucial you eat enough for your own well-being, too. Enriched whole-grain breads and pastas are fortified with this vital nutrient. They also give you a healthy dose of fiber and iron.

10. Leafy Greens

The list of benefits you get from eating leafy green vegetables such as spinach, Swiss chard, and broccoli goes on and on. They're filled with vitamin A, which your baby needs to get from your breast milk. They're a non-dairy source of dietary calcium. They've got vitamin C and iron. On top of that, green veggies are filled with heart-healthy antioxidants, they're low calorie, and they're tasty to boot.

12. Whole-Grain Cereal

After yet another sleepless night, one of the best foods to boost energy for new moms in the morning is a healthy breakfast of whole-grain cereal. Many cold cereals are available that are fortified with essential vitamins and nutrients to help you meet your daily needs. Or, whip up a healthy hot breakfast by stirring blueberries and skim milk into a delicious serving of oatmeal.

12. Water

Dehydration is one of the biggest energy drains there is. And new moms who are breastfeeding are especially at risk. To keep your energy levels and milk production up, make sure you drink at least eight cups of liquid every day. You can vary your options and meet some of your fluid requirements by drinking juice and milk, but be careful when it comes to caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea. Keep your intake low or switch to decaffeinated varieties. That's because caffeine enters your breast milk and can become concentrated in your baby's body.

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