Eating for breastfeeding

Eating for Breastfeeding separates the fact and fiction surrounding what to eat and what not to eat when breastfeeding. Nutritionist, Charlotte Stirling-Reed advises how to safely lose weight alongside breastfeeding.

What to eat for breastfeedingBreastfeeding carries many benefits for both mum and baby. Perhaps one of the most popular benefits is that breastfeeding helps your body return to its pre-pregnancy weight. However, although this is an important time to support and protect your baby’s growth, it is also an important time to look after yourself and keep your own health in check!

  1. Food avoidance
  2. Eating extra
  3. Weight Loss

1. Food avoidance

There are many old wives’ tales surrounding foods eaten when breastfeeding but actually, the simple answer is that you can eat anything, in moderation.

During breastfeeding there are no specific foods that should be eaten or avoided. However, you may find that certain foods such as cow’s milk or strong smelling foods may unsettle your baby. If this is the case, you could try cutting down on these foods and see if there is any improvement. Before cutting out any foods completely, it’s wise to get advice from your midwife or health visitor.
Breastfeeding mums are recommended to reduce consumption of alcohol and caffeinated drinks as these can pass through breastmilk to your baby. Drink these fluids only in small amounts (no more than 1-2 units of alcohol 1 or 2 times a day) and opt for water, milk and unsweetened 100% fruit juices instead.

2. Eating extra…

Although increased appetite and thirst is common when breastfeeding, your body will become extremely efficient at utilising your energy and nutrient stores to ensure that breastmilk comes first. So if your diet is less than perfect, the only person who will suffer will be an already exhausted new mum! The general advice for mums is to drink when thirsty and eat when hungry. Having regular meals can help control appetite and ensuring you have a glass of water when breastfeeding can help to maintain fluid levels and quench thirst.

In most cases 10micrograms of vitamin D is the only supplement needed when breastfeeding to ensure baby is getting enough in breastmilk.  Make sure you check regularly with your health visitor to guarantee you are getting enough of other nutrients such as calcium, iron and vitamin A.

3. Weight Loss

Breastfeeding helps you use up fat stores placed down during pregnancy. However, you can try and lose a little extra weight when breastfeeding, if you do it sensibly! Losing weight too quickly can be dangerous, especially at this time when you need your energy and health in order to care for your baby. If you want to lose weight, aim for no more that 1-2lbs/week, and make sure you start slowly as your body is recovering from giving birth.

The best way to lose weight is to make sure you are eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet, exercising and cutting down on foods high in fat and/or sugar. Below are some tips for safe weight-loss at this important time.

  • Eat regular meals and snacks
  • Opt for nutrient-dense foods such as fruit and vegetables.
  • Introduce exercise slowly– start with walking and build up to more intense exercise as you get stronger.
  • Eat no less that 1,800kcal/day.
  • Make homemade foods whenever possible and freeze big batches to save time
  • Be patient and remember to put yours and baby’s health first.

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