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If you’ve decided to breastfeed, you don’t need to start a special diet. What’s important is to make sure you’re eating a balanced and varied diet to maintain your energy levels.

You will need some extra energy to sustain you when breastfeeding (and of course for looking after your baby, particularly in the middle of the night!). But you don’t need to ‘eat for two’ and can usually get the nutrients you need from eating the foods you would normally eat as part of a healthy diet.

You might find that you are hungrier than usual when breastfeeding. This is fine too – remember that breastfeeding and caring for a new baby is demanding so don’t restrict your food.

If you’re worried about losing your ‘baby’ weight it’s really important to remember that the best way to lose it is gradually and through healthy eating and exercise. Remember also that your body can take the extra energy you need to produce milk from the fat stores you gained whilst pregnant which will help you lose extra weight.

This is not the time to go on a diet. Extreme calorie-restricted diets when breastfeeding are not recommended: you could risk depriving yourself and your baby of the full balance of nutrients you both need to be healthy.

So aim for a variety of foods including:

Starchy foods: wholewheat bread, rice, pasta and potatoes.

Plenty of fiber: wholegrain bread and pasta, brown rice, healthy breakfast cereals and pulses such as beans and lentils. It is quite common to have bowel problems or constipation after birth and plenty of fiber can help with this.

Plenty of Fruit and Vegetables: try to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables, remember that you can include frozen and dried fruit as well as fresh.

Protein: fish, lean meat and chicken, eggs, nuts, seed, beans and lentils. Try to include a portion of oily fish each week.

Dairy: milk, cheese and yoghurt are all good sources of calcium.

Avoid processed and high-sugar foods – eat whole, natural foods instead to give you and your baby the best nutrients.

Our other top tips to support your diet when you’re breastfeeding are:

  • Don’t overeat! Eat small amounts and frequently to avoid energy dips.
  • Be organized! If you can, try to create a menu for the week so that you have healthy meals available and nutritious snacks on hand. This can help you resist reaching for the biscuit tin and so avoid blood sugar spikes and the subsequent energy dips.
  • Remember to eat! Having a new baby can be all-consuming and it is easy to push your own needs back. But it’s vital to keep your energy levels up both to look after your baby’s needs and produce breast milk.
  • Ask for help! If you’re feeling totally low on energy, ask someone else to make you a snack.
  • Drink plenty of water! It’s vital to keep well hydrated to keep your milk supply going. A good tip is to make sure you always have a large glass or bottle of water within reach when you feed your baby. And try to sip water throughout the day (and do drink in the night too if you’re thirsty!).
  • Limit caffeine! If you’re really tired from being basically up all the time caring for your new baby, it can be tempting to reach for a caffeine fix. You don’t need to ditch it completely, but try to keep your caffeine intake to under no more than the equivalent of 2-3 cups of coffee a day. Try drinking a soothing herbal tea as a calming alternative, or why not opt for one of the breastfeeding infusions if you feel you are low on milk supply.

Supplements

It is recommended that breastfeeding moms should take a Vitamin D supplement  of 400 IU per day..

However, some research suggests that most people get enough Vitamin D from being outdoors during the summer months – getting yourself and your baby out for half an hour a day for some sun can provide you both with the sunlight you need to produce adequate Vitamin D.

Many moms also choose to take a DHA supplement , or to give it to their baby.  This is to support the baby’s brain and visual development.

We recommend you should seek your midwife or medical professional’s advice about this.

So, try to eat a healthy variety of foods with plenty of fruit and veg, that way you’ll get the nutrients you need to support breastfeeding and your baby will get all they need from you!

Sources

http://www.apprenticemum.com/copy-of-top-5

http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a3565/diet-for-a-healthy-breastfeeding-mum

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/breastfeeding-diet.aspx

http://www.madeformums.com/baby/what-to-eat-when-youre-breastfeeding/21417.html

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