Eating well during breastfeeding

Box of foodBabies can have a habit of taking over your life but as a new mum, it’s vital to stay hydrated and eat well, if you are breastfeeding. Eating regular, well-balanced meals with lots of organic produce means you’ll have heaps more energy and your breast milk will be filled with natural goodness.

You find you're hungrier and thirstier because breastfeeding uses up lots of calories and fluid so have a drink nearby you when you are breastfeeding and don't skip your meals. Your body is making milk 24-hours a day so it needs adequate fuel!

Eating well for you

Top Tips

  • Keep meals simple so that they don't take too long to prepare
  • Eat little and often to keep your energy levels up
  • Avoid dieting! You should try to eat a healthy balanced diet to ensure that both you and your baby have all the nutrients needed
  • Make eating regularly a priority - put other non-important tasks on hold until you have an established routine
  • Wind and restlessness are the most common signs that something you have eaten disagrees with your baby. Grapes, cabbage, onion, garlic, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and turnips can all cause wind, which usually lasts for 24 hours and then disappears. (If you do notice a reaction to a particular food cut this out of your diet for a few weeks until your baby's digestive system is more developed)
  • Diarrhoea or a rash could indicate that your baby has an allergy - if you notice either of these signs, ask your doctor for advice

Healthy snack ideas

  • Prepare a bag of carrot sticks, courgettes, mushrooms, or whatever other raw vegetables you fancy, to keep in the fridge
  • Falafel, cooked and stored in the fridge
  • Dips such as tsatsiki or hummus to enjoy with raw veg or falafel
  • Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds
  • Small cubes of cheese
  • An occasional square of dark chocolate (helps your iron intake!)
  • Yogurt
  • Apples, pears or any other fruit
  • Dried fruit

Eating well for your baby

Foods to include whilst breastfeeding

  • Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables - try to fulfil your '5-a-day' as much as possible
  • A wide variety of fruit and veg - a ‘rainbow' of different coloured foods such as red tomatoes and peppers, orange carrots, green leafy vegetables
  • Starchy foods like bread, rice potatoes and pasta for extra energy
  • Plenty of fibre, which you can get from your '5-a-day' fruit and veg, plus wholegrain bread, pasta, rice and pulses
  • Good sources of protein such as lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, and pulses. Try to eat fish twice a week, and include a portion of oily fish such as salmon or mackerel
  • Dairy foods, which are a good source of calcium and protein
  • Drink plenty of fluids, between 8-12 glasses of water/fluid per day
  • A vitamin supplement that contains 10 micrograms of Vitamin D per day
  • Eat organically where possible. Try to find organic fruit and veg when you can since there's no worry about pesticide residues

Foods to avoid when breastfeeding

  • Avoid having more than 2 portions of oily fish per week, which includes fresh tuna (canned tuna does not count as oily fish), mackerel, salmon, sardines and trout
  • Don’t have more than one portion of shark, swordfish, or marlin a week (these fish contain higher levels of mercury)
  • If you, the baby's father or the baby's siblings have a food allergy or other allergic conditions e.g. asthma, hayfever or eczema, your little one may be at higher risk of developing a peanut allergy. You may therefore wish to avoid eating peanuts whilst breastfeeding. The FSA also recommend that if there is a family history of allergy you should consult a health professional before introducing peanuts and peanut products into the diet of older infants and toddlers
  • Limit the amount of caffeine and alcohol in your diet, as some may pass to your baby through your milk
  • Beware of eating large quantities of prunes, liquorice or other foods that may be passed through to your baby and cause them to have loose stools!
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