What to eat when you are breast feeding:-
It's important to try to eat a variety of foods including:
- plenty of fruit and vegetables (fresh, frozen, tinned, dried or a glass of juice). Aim for at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day
- starchy foods such as bread, pasta, rice and potatoes to give you the extra energy you'll need
- plenty of fibre, found in wholegrain bread and breakfast cereals, pasta, rice, pulses (such as beans and lentils) and fruit and vegetables. After childbirth, some women experience bowel problems and find constipation particularly painful, but fibre helps with both of these
- protein such as lean meat and chicken, fish, eggs and pulses
- fish at least twice a week including some oily fish
- dairy foods, such as milk, cheese and yoghurt, which contain calcium and are a useful source of protein
Also, drink plenty of fluid, try to drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of fluid a day.
While you're breastfeeding you should take supplements containing 10 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D each day. You should be able to get all the other vitamins and minerals you need by eating a varied and balanced diet.
What to avoid
Eating fish is good for your health and the development of your baby. But don't have more than two portions of oily fish a week. Oily fish includes fresh tuna (not canned tuna, which does not count as oily fish), mackerel, sardines and trout.
You should avoid eating more than one portion of shark, swordfish or marlin a week, because of the levels of mercury in these fish. This advice is the same for all adults, except women who are pregnant, or trying to get pregnant, who should avoid these fish altogether.
Some breastfed babies seem to react to foods their mothers eat. If you think that some foods that you eat are affecting your baby, don't stop eating them without talking to your GP or health visitor first. But remember, it's normal for breastfed babies to have loose stool
Should I avoid peanuts?
Peanuts are one of the most common causes of food allergy, affecting about 1% of people, and peanut allergy can cause severe reactions. Your baby may be at higher risk of developing a peanut allergy if you, the baby's father, brothers or sisters have a food allergy or other allergic conditions such as hayfever, asthma and/or eczema.
If your baby is in this higher-risk group, you may wish to avoid eating peanuts and peanut products while you're breastfeeding and while you're introducing solid foods. You shouldn't give peanuts or peanut products to children who are at higher risk before they are three years old.
If you think your child might be allergic to peanuts, speak to your GP or clinic sister
How much to eat and drink
Most women's bodies are very efficient at making breast milk - which provides all the nutrients a baby needs for healthy development in the first months of life - so you don't need to eat for two. But, just like any other time, it's important for you and your baby that you eat a healthy balanced diet.
It can be difficult to find the time to eat properly when you're looking after a young baby but you might find these hints helpful:
- Keep meals simple so they don't take too long to prepare.
- Make eating regularly a high priority.
- Try eating smaller meals more frequently.
We should all be drinking at least 6 to 8 glasses (1.2 litres) of fluid every day. When you're breastfeeding you need to drink even more than this. If you feel thirsty, this means you're already dehydrated. If your urine is dark and has a strong smell, this is also a sign that you are not drinking enough.
It's a good idea to have a drink by your side before you settle down to breastfeed. Water, milk and unsweetened fruit juices are all good choices.
Small amounts of whatever you're eating and drinking may pass to your baby through your breast milk. So it's a good idea to think carefully about how much alcohol and caffeine you're having. These may affect the baby in the same way they affect you.
If you do have alcohol or caffeine, try to have them only occasionally, because having them regularly, or in large amounts, will affect your baby.
It's not a good idea to try to lose weight while you're breastfeeding because you need to keep up your energy levels and you might miss out on the nutrients that you and your baby need.
The good news is that the extra fat laid down in pregnancy is used to make breast milk, so breastfeeding will help you get back into shape quicker.
If you eat a healthy balanced diet, limit the amount of fat and sugar you eat, and are physically active, this will help you to lose any extra weight you put on during pregnancy.