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Eating well during breastfeeding

You're producing all the nutrients your baby needs to thrive and grow - so it's really important to make sure you're getting good nutrition, too!

 

It's a well-known fact that babies do tend to take over your life, but as a breastfeeding mum, it’s vital to stay hydrated and eat well. After all, you're quite literally eating for two right now!

Eating regular, well-balanced meals with lots of nutrition 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 when you're feeding and try not to skip meals. Your body is making milk 24 hours a day, so it needs adequate fuel!

 

Nutrition tips for breastfeeding mums

  • Keep meals simple so they don't take too long to prepare.
  • Eat little and often to keep your energy levels up.
  • Avoid dieting! Eating healthy, balanced meals will ensure that both you and your baby have all the nutrients you need.
  • 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 notice a reaction to a particular food, try cutting it 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 tzatziki or hummus to enjoy with raw veg or falafel
  • Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds
  • Small cubes of cheese
  • An occasional square of dark chocolate (go ahead – it helps your iron intake!)
  • Yogurt
  • Apples, pears or any other fruit
  • Dried fruit

Top foods to choose whilst breastfeeding

  • Plenty of different fresh fruits and vegetables - try to get your '5-a-day' as often as you can. If you can also include lots of different coloured fruits and veggies, even better.
  • 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. This 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 any siblings have a food allergy or other allergic conditions like 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, and consult your GP before you introduce 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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