Top Nutrition Tips for breastfeeding Mums
Breastfeeding requires approximately 2000 kilojoules extra each day compared with if you were not breastfeeding. This is a lot of extra food to eat! But don’t worry, no doubt you will notice your appetite will increase too. Fluid requirements also increase for a breastfeeding woman and no doubt you will also notice how much thirstier you become. For most, you may be comforted by knowing the nutritional quality of breast milk will only diminish when mum has an extremely poor nutritional status. In other words nature looks after our babies before the mums and breastmilk production will take from the mothers own reserves, if adequate nutrition is not replaced. So while bub will be protected somewhat, it is still extremely important that mums nutrition is upheld to ensure continued strength and health to be able to continue to look after baby.
While you find yourself hungrier than usual, here are some tips for breastfeeding mums to ensure good health while providing optimum nutrition for baby:
- Try to eat a little more of each food group in the New Zealand Food and Nutrition Guidelines. This will ensure your variety of nutrients is maintained.
- Don’t be tempted to fill up on foods that are high in saturated fats and refined sugars;
- Aim for 3 serves of Milk & Milk Products per day (1 serve being 250ml of milk, 150 of yoghurt or 40g of cheese). Milk and yoghurt are not only a good source of fluid, carbohydrates and protein, it is a great source of calcium which helps build and maintain strong bones;
- 2 serves of lean meat, seafood, poultry, eggs or alternatives (cooked dried beans, peas and lentils, and nuts and seeds) per day (1 serve being 100g of cooked meant, ¾ cup mince or casserole, 100g of cooked fish, 1 egg, ¾ cup tofu). Animal proteins are a good source of essential amino acids –which keeps all your tissues and cells in good repair. They also contain iron, which helps maintain your energy level and also can help protect you from infections; zinc, which is important for growth and cell reproduction;
- 2 fruit serves per day (1 serve being ½ cup / 1 small piece). Fruit is a great source of natural fibre to help keep your digestive system regular, high in water content and packed full of a variety of vitamins, particularly vitamin C and other antioxidants;
- At least 4 serves of vegetables per day (1 serve being ½ cup). Vegetables like fruit have a high water and fibre content. They are also rich in essential vitamins and minerals and help bulk up meals without adding many extra kilojoules – which is extra handy if you have a healthy appetite while breastfeeding;
- Aim for 10 cups of fluid each day – Making breast milk uses extra fluid, so you may get thirsty more often. Water and milk are the best choice of drinks. Requirements will vary, depending on how much your food contains; your activity levels; and the weather conditions;
- At least 7 serves of healthy wholegrains, cereals or starchy vegetables (1 serve being 1 roll (50g), ½ cup muesli, 1 cup cooked rice);
- If you are a vegetarian or vegan, dietary advice from a dietitian is recommended during breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding and Alcohol
Alcohol consumption while breastfeeding can cause harm to the breastfed baby so the safest option is to avoid alcoholic drinks all together while you are breastfeeding. If you do have a drink, breastfeed before having your drink. It takes about 2 hours to clear the alcohol from your body for each standard drink.
Breastfeeding and weight loss
Weight gain during pregnancy is healthy and very normal. In addition to the weight, which is somewhat due to that little bundle of joy you had inside you, women tend to store extra fat as well. These extra fat stores come in very handy when trying to meet those extra kilojoule demands of breastfeeding. When you start your post-birth weight-loss journey, it is best to lose the extra kilos gradually using healthy eating principles and adding in some extra exercise when possible.
Special diets while breast feeding
If you follow any special type of diet, for a medical, cultural or any other reason, consult a Dietitian to check that you are eating a good balance of nutrients for both you and your baby’s needs.
Sample meal plan for a breastfeeding mum
1 cup wholegrain cereal
1 piece of fruit
1 cup of milk
4 wholegrain crackers topped with low fat ricotta cheese, sliced tomato and cucumber
1 wholegrain sandwich with lean meat, low fat cheese and plenty of mixed salad (2 cups)
1 piece of fruit
1 tub of low fat yoghurt and a handful of nuts
1 slice wholegrain bread
1tsp peanut butter
2 cups of pasta
100g of lean mince with tomato based sauce
Cheese on top
Vegetables throughout the sauce or side salad of greens
1 slice raisin and bran loaf