Nutrition for Nursing Mothers in Recovery

Contributor: Blog Contributed By Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC at Addiction Hope

As a mother, choosing recovery and abstinence from substance abuse is a phenomenal and empowering decision, both for you and your child. If you have been recently pregnant and are now nursing your baby, your choice to remain in recovery is one that will allow your baby to have the best possible outcome in life.

Breastfeeding is a gift that mothers can give their babies, and by choosing recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction, you are allowing yourself the possibility of sharing this gift with your baby.

Passing Nutrients Through Breast Milk

There is a common misconception that nursing mothers do not need to be as cautious about how or what they eat compared to the time of pregnancy; however, this could not be farther from the truth. While your baby is no longer inside your body, you have the potential to pass on nutrients through breast milk.

This makes it crucial to maintain adequate nutrition as well as avoid substances that could potentially be harmful to your baby while breastfeeding, such as:

  • Certain drugs and medications
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Other substances

Getting Nutrition for Yourself

Also as your body produces milk for your little one, there are increased nutritional demands and needs for yourself as well. As a nursing mother, you will burn additional calories just through the process of synthesizing breast milk and feeding your baby – up to 500-800 extra calories per day!

Because of this extra demand on your body, it is crucial to maintain optimal nutrition through your diet. Consuming a diet that includes a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, lean dairy and protein will ensure that you are getting the nutrition you need to stay well and keep up your milk supply.

You will also need to be sure to keep your body hydrated and drink ample amounts of fluid throughout the day.

Supplementing Your Nutrition

easter-349026_640As a nursing mother in recovery from drugs or alcohol, your body may also be repairing lost stores of nutrition from the period in which you engaged in substance abuse. Talk with your doctor about possibly supplementing with a prenatal or multivitamin to ensure that you are covering your nutrient bases.

If you are concerned about weight loss or other medical issues that have resulted from substance abuse, you may consider working with a Registered Dietitian while you are nursing your baby. These professionals can help you come up with a meal plan to ensure you are receiving the necessary nutrition you need.

Community discussion – share your thoughts here!

What has been your experience as a nursing mother in recovery?

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on March 13th, 2015
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