You probably know that breast-feeding delivers optimal nutrition to your baby, but did you know that breast-feeding mothers should also pay attention to their own nutrition?

If you're breast-feeding, you'll need approximately 500 extra calories each day, more if you're nursing twins. This number is just an average; some women may need more or less. Eating too few calories and nutrients will force your body to draw on its nutrient reserves for milk production, leaving you feeling tired and run-down.

If you're in a hurry to lose your postpartum weight, the idea of consuming extra calories may not be appealing. That postpartum weight serves an important function, however; it is used as extra energy to support breast-feeding. This is why breast-feeding mothers often lose weight more quickly than non-breast-feeding mothers. The best way to lose your postpartum weight is by making a commitment to daily exercise. While breast-feeding, be sure to drink plenty of fluids such as water, low-fat milk, or all-fruit juices. Drink according to your thirst; if your urine is clear or pale, you're probably getting enough fluid. Always keep a water bottle nearby while nursing your baby.

Many mothers have trouble finding time to sit and eat while caring for their baby. Preparing yourself a healthy snack before you sit down to nurse is one solution; asking someone to cook for you during the postpartum period is another. Keep nutrient-rich, easy-to-grab foods on hand for when you're too busy to prepare a snack.

Marlene Veloso