As a mum, you can pretty much eat what you like. However, if you choose to breastfeed your baby just like most mums, you need to try to stick to a healthy diet. This is good for your baby, as it will acquaint with her a range of healthy flavours through your milk.
However, there could be times when you notice that something in your breastmilk is upsetting your baby. For example, your baby may have wind or there may be changes to her poo. Your baby may also tend to cry a lot, and not necessarily during the late afternoon and early evening, the times associated with persistent crying, or colic. A lot of things can cause tummy troubles or fussiness in babies. But traces of some foods in breastmilk can be one of those causes.
That’s why it’s very important to be careful about what you eat during the breastfeeding years.
Do you need to eat any special or different foods while you're breastfeeding?
Just do your best to follow a balanced diet, which is a combination of healthy foods. A balanced diet includes starchy foods, such as bread, potato, pasta and rice. Choose wholegrain varieties of cereal-based starchy foods for added nutrients and fibre. You can also try some dairy produce, such as a yoghurt or a glass of milk. Also, have some protein, such as lean meat, fish, eggs, or pulses. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.
When you have a baby there may be times when eating is the last thing on your mind, or you simply forget to eat. But you need to keep up your energy levels when you're a new mum.
In those cases, opt for easy-to-grab, nutritious meals and snacks, such as a homemade sandwich, ideally with some salad added to the filling. You can also go for carrot or cucumber sticks, or breadsticks, with hummus. Other easy-to-prepare snacks: fresh or dried fruit, and unsalted nuts, soups with wholemeal bread, eggs or beans on toast, jacket potatoes and a pot of yoghurt.
If you don't have time to fix yourself something, ask someone to make you a snack.
What you shouldn't eat or drink when breastfeeding
Your body makes breastmilk just right for your baby each time she feeds. However, traces of what you eat and drink can get into breastmilk. If your baby is sensitive to a particular food, it may affect her.
Some mums worry about eating peanuts while breastfeeding. In fact, there's no evidence that this makes your baby more likely to develop a peanut allergy. Some research even suggests that continuing to breastfeed while introducing solids may protect your baby against developing food allergies.
You don't need to have extra calories as a new mum, because your body is so efficient at making milk.
Be guided by your appetite, and eat when you're hungry. It's normal for your body to lay down fat stores during pregnancy to help you prepare for breastfeeding. Breastfeeding your baby can help to convert these fat stores into energy for making milk.
Try not to have too many caffeinated drinks when you're breastfeeding. This can be tough, especially in the early days when you're exhausted from breastfeeding round the clock.
Alcohol passes through your breastmilk to your baby. It could harm your baby if you drink more than two units of alcohol more than once or twice a week. It's always best to be cautious, so you may want to cut out alcohol while you're breastfeeding, especially in the first three months.
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