Following the South Beach Diet While Breastfeeding

Woman breastfeeding
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Are you on the South Beach Diet? The eating plan developed by Dr. Arthur Agatston is a program that many dieters follow for lifelong health and wellness. But there are some stages in your life when you might wonder if it's healthy to follow the strict eating protocol. For example, is it proper to follow the South Beach Diet while breastfeeding?

Good Nutrition and Breastfeeding

It's normal for new mothers to want to shed their pregnancy pounds. Some new moms may even start a new diet or exercise program immediately after giving birth. While others hope that breastfeeding the newborn will burn enough calories to help the extra weight disappear.

For your sake and for the sake of the baby, it's important that you get good nutritional advice when you are nursing. If you plan to follow the South Beach Diet, you may use books like to figure out what to eat and what not to eat. But it's also important to get advice from sources that are designed specifically for nursing moms. 

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology provides helpful advice for postpartum care, including some nutritional advice for breastfeeding moms. In addition, The Association of Reproductive Health Professionals offers helpful diet, nutrition and exercise advice for moms with new babies.

But the best advice for you will come from your own health care provider. Your obstetrician, pediatrician, and primary care provider know your personal health history. He or she can evaluate your nutritional needs and the needs of the baby to provide you with personalized care. The guidelines listed below may be used as talking points when you ask questions during your appointment.

The South Beach Diet While Breastfeeding

In a recent interview with a South Beach Diet nutritionist, she explained the program's guidelines for moms who are nursing.  Marie Almon, MS, RD provided guidance for both pregnant and nursing mothers.

"Expecting mothers do need to prevent excessive weight gain but not lose weight. With this in mind, Phase 2 of the program can be a safe choice for pregnant women if it is followed as a “healthy eating” plan and not a “weight loss” plan. Because Phase 2 is filled with nutrient-dense whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, and low-fat dairy, it can be followed during pregnancy and is also good for nursing mothers. Anyone who is pregnant or nursing should consult with their own doctor before adopting any eating plan, however."

Nutritional Advice for Breastfeeding Mothers

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology also provides helpful nutritional tips for nursing moms. 

  • Consume an extra 450-500 calories per day when breastfeeding
  • Drink a glass of water each time you breastfeed to maintain proper hydration
  • Ask your doctor if you should continue to take your prenatal vitamin
  • Avoid eating foods that cause stomach upset in your baby (this may include gassy foods)
  • Drinking beverages with caffeine in moderation (roughly 200 mg per day) should be okay
  • If you choose to drink alcohol, wait at least two hours before nursing

Remember that you'll have plenty of time to lose the baby weight after you're done breastfeeding. Use the months when you're nursing to eat a healthy diet to provide good nutrition for you and your baby. The investment in your health will help you and your baby build better habits for well-being.

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