Eating well while you’re breastfeeding is good for two major reasons. Firstly it means you’re passing on plenty of good nutrition to your baby. Secondly, it’s fuel for you– giving you plenty of energy to make it through sleepless nights, and bounce back after giving birth.
Try not to go for too long without food. You might want to switch your three meals a day for smaller meals more often. Here are some foods that are great when you’re breastfeeding:
- Fruit and veges
– whether they’re fresh, frozen or canned – try to have at least six servings (a serving is around a handful) each day.
- Starchy carbohydrates - bread, pasta, rice, kumara and potatoes. Not only do they taste good, but they’ll give you plenty of energy too. Aim for around seven servings each day.
- Fibre – you can find this in wholegrain bread and breakfast cereals, pasta, rice, fruit and vegetables. Constipation can be a common problem after giving birth and fibre can help to get things moving.
- Protein - lean meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, legumes, seeds and nuts are all good sources of protein, and provide your body with iron and zinc. Have at least two servings every day.
- Fish – aim for two servings a week as part of your protein rich foods. Fish, particularly oily fish, is a good source of vitamins, minerals, protein and omega 3 fatty acids, which is essential for normal growth and development.
- Milk and milk products – foods like milk, cheese and yoghurt are a great source of calcium and protein. Have at least three servings each day.
- Water – try to get at least eight glasses of water or other fluids each day. Breastfeeding can make you thirsty! Having a big bottle of water beside you on the couch, or in the bedroom can be a good reminder to drink more. Drinking plenty also helps with the bowels.
- A vitamin and mineral supplement - while a folic acid supplement is important during pregnancy, the best source of essential nutrients is a good balanced diet. If you are concerned you’re not eating well and may need a supplement, talk to your GP before taking one.
There are a few things to look out for while you’re breastfeeding:
- Alcohol – this can pass into your breast milk, so it’s best to avoid it.
- Caffeine – this can affect your baby's feeding, sleeping and digestion. Decaffeinated versions of your favourite drinks might be the best option for a while.