Although you’re no longer pregnant, you’re still essentially eating for two if breastfeeding will be your baby’s primary source of nourishment.
As milk production burns approximately 400 calories a day, the good news is that you can choose to eat a little more than usual. The most important thing about your breastfeeding diet is the necessity to find a good balance.
Tommee Tippee has the info when wondering what to eat when breastfeeding to help you achieve this balance:
- At least five portions of fruit and vegetables daily, to get those all-important vitamins and nutrients.
- Lots of fibre, as found in wholemeal bread, pasta, cereals, beans and lentils, can help with constipation and other bowel problems that are common after birth.
- Protein, such as lean meat, chicken, eggs and fish, are great for both of you. Fish is particularly good and two portions a week are recommended.
- Calcium-rich foods, such as milk, cheese and yoghurt, are an important part of your breastfeeding diet.
- Plenty of fluids. Whilst there is no definitive amount, it is always good to drink plenty of uncaffeinated, unsweetened drinks. It is also good practice to keep a drink of water within reach while breastfeeding, as it is thirsty work.
- Iron-rich foods. Breastfeeding mothers need the same amount of iron as they do during pregnancy. While the amount of iron in your breast milk won’t be affected by your intake, it is important for your health to keep your iron levels up in order to avoid anaemia and associated health problems. Red meat is the preferred source of iron for breastfeeding mothers, as iron in meat is in a form very easily and readily absorbed by the body.
It is important to also point out what not to eat when breastfeeding when looking at your diet during this period of your life. Here’s a few things that should not be on the menu just yet:
More than two portions of oily fish (mackerel, sardines, trout, fresh tuna) can be harmful, as they contain small amounts of pollutants. Shark and other exotic fish should be avoided too, as they contain mercury.
Coffee, tea, chocolate, soft drinks, energy drinks and certain medicines all contain caffeine which can harm your baby and keep them awake. Caffeine intake should be occasional at most, and certainly not daily.
There are conflicting opinions regarding nuts and other highly allergenic foods. Many believe they should be avoided, especially if you have a history of allergies in your family. However, there is a school of thought that suggests having nuts in the diet can help to develop exposure and, as a result, reduce the chance your child will develop an allergy. Consult your doctor for more information.
Certain herbal teas and medicines should be avoided – always read the label to be on the safe side. Teas with ingredients used in cooking, such as fennel, camomile and peppermint, are generally okay.
Aspirin, codeine, phenylephrine and guaifenesin are not advised. Contact your doctor for a suitable substitute.
A balanced diet should give you all that you and your baby needs. However, if you don’t get much daily sunshine then one of the best supplements to add to your breastfeeding diet is Vitamin D. Look in the pharmacy for one designed specifically for breastfeeding mums.