Breastfeeding is a nutritionally demanding period of a woman’s life. While you breastfeed, your body requires enough nutrients to support your needs as well as your baby’s needs. According La Leche League, an international organization that supports women who breastfeed, the number of calories a woman needs depends on how much body fat she has and her activity level. If you need to gain weight while breastfeeding there are some steps you can take to achieve a healthy weight gain.
Increase your calorie intake by approximately 500 calories per day over your current intake. This will result in a weight gain of approximately 1 lb. per week. This can easily be done by adding high-calorie, nutrient-dense foods to your diet. Just a peanut butter and honey sandwich alone will give you approximately 350 calories.
Add high-calorie, nutrient-dense foods to your diet. According to the Ohio State University, nutrient-dense foods are packed with more nutrients for the calories than other foods. Examples of some high-calorie, nutrient-dense food are whole grain bagels, breads and pastas, starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes, olive and grapeseed oil, avocado, nuts, peanut butter, dried fruits and whole yogurt.
Add extra protein and calories when preparing your food. Use milk instead of water when you make hot cereals like oatmeal. Add dried fruit, seeds and nuts to hot and cold cereals, yogurt and cottage cheese. Make smoothies with peanut butter and yogurt.
Snack between meals. Try to eat every two to three hours. Snack on trail mix, banana with peanut butter, tortilla chips with guacamole, crackers with hummus, yogurt mixed with nuts or peanut butter, an almond butter sandwich with honey or bread dipped in olive oil.
Monitor your weight. If you still are unable to gain the weight you desire, schedule an appointment to see your doctor or a registered dietitian. If you are gaining more than 2 lbs. per week then cut back on the high-calorie foods you have been adding to your diet.