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Can you eat a plant based diet while breastfeeding?

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Concerns over adequate nutrition are a reason for questioning dietary choices while breastfeeding. Whether you eat plant based or not, breastfeeding is the best way to nourish your growing child.

But, can you eat a plant based diet while breastfeeding? Yes, you can eat a plant based diet while breastfeeding. Your infant gets the most nutrients while feeding on breastmilk and a plant based diet is a terrific choice to supply both yourself and your child with high quality nutrition. 

Vitamins and minerals such as B12, Iron, and Zinc are abundant in plant-based foods, and will help keep both you and your child healthy. 

Though plant based is not the only diet to choose from, it provides a number of benefits when done correctly. It is always important to consult a dietician or doctor to make sure you are providing the right nutrients as your baby develops.

We encourage the consumption of a well balanced diet comprised of wholesome plant based ingredients full of protein, fat and fiber. It is easy to fall into the trap believing that everything plant based is healthy, but there are a ton of junk food options that are clearly not.

This article discusses eating a plant based diet while breastfeeding. Answered below are frequently asked questions about breastfeeding while eating a plant based diet, and what you might expect or look out for.

Is a plant-based diet safe while breastfeeding?

Yes, a plant based diet is safe while breastfeeding. As long as the mother gets enough nutrients for herself and the baby, then a plant based diet is completely safe. 

There are actually some advantages to eating a plant based diet while pregnant and breastfeeding such as consuming less carcinogens, lower excess inflammation, and better regulated blood sugars and blood pressure.

Experts recommend new mothers, regardless of diet, makes sure they are eating enough, resting enough, and have enough essential macro and micro nutrients. 

If you are choosing or continuing a plant based diet, make sure your diet contains enough iron, calcium, vitamin B12, and zinc. These are essential nutrients for both baby and mom, and can sometimes be lacking in plant based diets. 

Furthermore, protein is essential in order to generate enough breastmilk to satiate your growing child. Breast feeding women typically require an additional 25g of protein per day just to ensure a stead supply of milk.

Can vegans produce breast milk?

Yes, mothers on a vegan diet can produce breast milk. A plant based diet during breastfeeding can provide numerous benefits to both baby and mother. 

As long as mom gets enough protein with essential vitamins and minerals, then she will be able to produce breast milk as easily as on any other diet.

White blood cells, proteins, stem cells, hormones, enzymes, vitamins, amino acids, and minerals, water, antibodies, fat, and carbs are just a few of the elements found in breast milk. A plant based diet contains all the essential vitamins, minerals, and complete macronutrients to allow a new mom to produce all these properties in their milk. 

A vegan can successfully nurse, and her breast milk will not be deficient in any way compared to mothers on other diets. Keep in mind that, like any other mother, vegans may need to change their diet while breastfeeding if they find their child becoming fussy after eating particular foods. 

All baby’s will require different nutrients overtime as they grow, and mothers vary their diets to meet the needs of their newborns.

Breast milk has a number of health benefits, including appropriate nutrition and antibodies that protect the newborn. Breastfed infants are more likely to maintain a healthy weight as they continue to grow. 

Research shows that a vegan diet is beneficial at all phases of life, including nursing, as long as crucial vitamins, minerals and protein are sufficiently available to mothers [1].

You may continue to live a vegan lifestyle while breastfeeding, knowing that your baby’s milk is vegan and nutritious. 

How to be plant-based diet while breastfeeding?

When you are pregnant and breastfeeding you don’t only need nutrients for yourself, but also for your baby. A plant based diet can help you consume the proper amount of essential vitamins and nutrients so both you and your baby are healthy. 

However, it is important to mention that the plant based foods must be wholesome and balanced for overall nutrition. It is easy to fall down the trap of consuming plant-based junk food, but junk food is not healthy, even if it is plant based.

Here are a few recommends we have to incorporate into your plant based diet while breastfeeding:

  • For Folate: Add lentils, asparagus, pinto beans, spinach, broccoli, black beans
  • For Choline: Eat more collard greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts, swiss chard, spinach, cauliflower
  • To get more Vitamin B6: Increase sweet potato, banana, sunflower seeds, potato, spinach
  • Vitamin A (most essential during breastfeeding): Sweet potato, spinach, carrots, winter squash, kale, turnip greens, mustard greens, swiss chard

Does a vegan diet affect breastfeeding?

Yes, a vegan diet can affect breastfeeding, and some components of a vegan diet might actually be advantageous. However, baby’s needs can change rapidly, and experts always recommend keeping a balanced and healthy diet. 

Here are a few advantages a vegan diet can offer when breastfeeding:

  • Clean Breastmilk: We’ll get right to the one that has the most immediate impact on your baby’s health. Research has shown that much of the nutrients you consume go directly to your baby through your milk, as do many of the toxins as well. We find a vegan diet to generally have fewer toxins, added hormones, and carcinogens than diets consuming large amounts of animal meats or fats.
  • Nutrient-Dense Calories: It is suggested that you consume an additional 350-500 calories per day when breastfeeding in order to continue fueling you baby too. But it’s not just about the calories, we feel that these calories should come from nutrient dense foods so you can share the rich vitamins and minerals with your baby. A vegan or plant based diet offers nutrient dense foods that are high in vitamins and minerals.
  • Fiber: A vegan diet can also easily boost your total fiber content. Fiber is great for digestive health and can aid in controlling blood sugars, cholesterol, and blood pressure. On top of the extra calories you are consuming, there are likely a lot of new stressors in your life! We’d aim for at least 25-30 grams of fiber a day.
  • Minimizes Inflammation and Speeds Up Recovery: Having a baby is a wonderful experience, but it definitely takes a toll on your body. Every activity wears down the body in some way, but this is even more true during pregnancy and labor, and then you are immediately tasked with caring for your newborn. A plant based diet can help your body recover by lowering excess inflammation, providing complete proteins, and helping feel lighter and more energetic throughout the day. 
  • Better Bonding: Certain plants include a phytonutrient that improves the transmission of serotonin and dopamine (our feel-good hormones) throughout the brain. As a result, you are able to feel better. Those who consume a varied plant-based diet may have a lower incidence of postpartum depression, a better overall mood, and more energy all through the day.
  • Additional Hydration: Water is necessary for survival. It’s critical to keep track of water intake when nursing (and throughout your life in general) to avoid dehydration. The wonderful thing about plants is that they contain a high percentage of water! If you don’t like drinking water, there are lots of fruits and vegetables that contain 75 percent or more of their weight in water. Drink plenty of water and eat water dense foods to stay hydrated.
Can you eat a plant based diet while breastfeeding

Breastfeeding on Plant Based Diet: Conclusion

Breast milk is the most nutritious food that you can feed a growing infant. It contains all the nourishment that a child needs for physical and neurological development.

It is very possible to consume enough nutrition to breast feed while on a plant based diet. However, it is important to consume a well balanced diet consisting of wholesome nutrition as opposed to eating plant based junk food that is overly processed and lacks necessary nutrients.

You can eat a plant based diet while breastfeeding and it may help supply both you and your baby with high quality nourishment. The baby will benefit if you eat cleanly, while eliminating these excess toxins.

No matter what, we recommend talking to a dietician or doctor to make sure you are providing your body with all the right nutrients as your baby develops.

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