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What Foods Should Breastfeeding Mums Eat?

I am not a nutrition expert, this is what helped me while I was breastfeeding. Always consult your doctor for professional advice if you are concerned about your baby’s sensitivities. 

Pregnancy, giving birth, sleepless nights and breastfeeding can demand every bit of energy that you can muster. It’s hard work and can be emotionally and physically draining for sleep-deprived new mums, and that’s without having to think about what foods you are allowed to snack on.

When I breastfed Jack, I had no idea how important nutrition was for my body during that time. I had suffered a major postpartum haemorrhage which depleted my iron levels. No midwife told me until later on that this would impact how quickly my milk came in.

I quickly became convinced that Jack wasn’t getting any nutrition from me, and the daily weigh-ins only confirmed this. Luckily we managed to get his weight up again with the help of a bottle, but it highlighted to me how little emphasis there is on new mums eating well and getting their strength back after giving birth.

Forget Weight Loss and Regain Your Strength

I did not follow the perfect diet after having my kids – I don’t think any mum does. It’s all about survival at this stage and getting through those long nights and feeds. I ate my fair share of chocolate hidden away in the pocket of my dressing gown, especially during night feeds.

Your body works hard to produce breastmilk and requires an additional 500 calories a day. So although it’s tempting to try and lose weight after giving birth, try and hold off as decreasing your calories could reduce your milk supply and energy levels.

Sometimes little changes make all the difference, and while I’m not a nutrition expert, here are foods that helped me get my strength back and increase my milk production.

Starchy Foods and Fibre

Try to eat wholemeal starchy foods for example bread, cereal, pasta, rice and potatoes. Oats are excellent for milk production, so don’t forget your daily bowl of porridge and if you fancy something sweet then enjoy having flapjacks as a treat.

Lentils, pulses and beans are also a great source of fibre.

Not only that, the fibre from the starchy foods will help ease constipation post-birth.

Fruit

Aim to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. This can include fresh, frozen, tinned and dried fruit and vegetables.

I used to make my own concoction of super smoothies, complete with milk, oats, strawberries, bananas and spinach.

Protein

Lean meat such as chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, soya foods are all packed with protein. It is recommended you have at least two portions of fish each week, including oily fish.

Dairy

Dairy is another source of protein and also provides a healthy dose of calcium. While most babies won’t react to dairy in your diet, some babies may show sensitivity to dairy produce. If you think your baby is reacting badly to dairy then get advice from your doctor.

Water

Keep a glass of water on the go while you’re breastfeeding. I always felt really thirsty while feeding. When I had low iron, my midwife suggested I drink semi-skimmed milk to build up my calories.

Foods Breastfeeding Mums Should Avoid

Neither of my children reacted too badly to what I ate, but I did notice little changes whenever I added something to my diet. For example, if I had too much coffee then Jack would become fussy and George would become gassy if I ate curry.

Although most foods that you couldn’t eat while pregnant are safe to eat while breastfeeding, always keep an eye out for sensitivities and speak to your doctor if you have any concerns.

– Caffeine

– Spices (cinnamon, garlic, curry, chilli pepper)

– Citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit

– Fruits with a laxative effect such as prunes and cherries.

Alcohol

Yes you can have a glass of wine while breastfeeding (phew!)

According to BabyCenter it’s okay to have an occasional alcoholic drink, but having more than one drink increases your blood alcohol level to the point that the alcohol gets into your milk. If you have one drink, then wait two hours until the next one then you should be fine.

What foods helped you regain your strength and increase milk production while breastfeeding?

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