Women who are vegetarian or vegan should still be able to breastfeed their babies smoothly. Even so, you need to be careful in sorting and choosing food so that your nutritional needs are maintained while breastfeeding. This is because, your calorie needs increase during breastfeeding, Moms.
Yes, a vegetarian diet means that the mother does not consume meat, but still enjoys other animal products such as milk, eggs, yogurt or cheese. While mothers who follow a vegan diet mean that they don’t eat meat and animal products at all.
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“Our culture is very focused on meat. Some people believe that the body needs meat, especially women who are breastfeeding. But more evidence does not support a meat-rich diet (providing) optimal health,” said Lisa Doggett, MD, family doctor in Texas, United States, as quoted by Parents.
Well Moms, so that your calorie needs are fulfilled even if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, then don’t forget to fulfill some of these nutrients during breastfeeding, as quoted by Very Well Family.
1. Vitamin B12
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Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that is commonly found in animal products. But don’t worry, even if you don’t eat meat, try eating soy-based foods to fulfill it. If you want to take B12 supplements, you should consult with your doctor first.
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Calcium is also a nutrient that cannot be produced by the body. Well, one food source that is high in calcium is milk. But if you include a vegan diet and do not consume milk, then try to eat dark leafy vegetables, nuts, or orange juice. The La Leche League ( LLL ) Canada page adds that consuming fortified soy products and calcium supplements can also help meet your calcium needs.
3. Vitamin D
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All women, including pregnant women, even need a minimum of 15 mcg of vitamin D every day. Meanwhile, if breastfeeding mothers are deficient in vitamin D, their babies will automatically suffer the same fate until they get rickets .
To meet their needs, you can get vitamin D from sunlight, cheese, egg yolks, tuna, mackerel , salmon, soy milk, to cereals. But if you are vegan, try to consult with your doctor whether additional vitamin D supplements are needed or not.
Illustration of salted fish. Photo: Jamal Ramadhan / coil
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is included in the omega-3 essential fatty acids, is mostly found in fish and walnuts. Eating fish itself has many benefits, such as being able to optimize the development of your baby’s brain and eyes, Moms.
Ideally, you should get around 1,500 milligrams of DHA per week. Again, if you can’t get it directly from food, talk with your doctor about taking omega-3 vitamins.
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Iodine is important for the health of the thyroid gland. To get it you can consume iodized salt or seaweed. While The American Thyroid Association recommends that nursing mothers take supplements containing 150 mcg of iodine to meet their needs, but make sure you consult your doctor first, Moms.
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Iron is used by the body to make components of red blood cells known as hemoglobin. Later, hemoglobin is responsible for carrying oxygen to organs and tissues. Even if you don’t eat meat, you can still get iron from seeds, tofu, mushrooms, nuts, green leafy vegetables, iron-fortified breads, to cereals.
Nursing mothers need at least 12 milligrams of zinc every day. Now Moms, because you can’t eat meat , you need to eat other foods that also contain zinc every day, such as nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables to prevent deficiency.