You do not need to take in lots of extra calories while you are breastfeeding, nor do you need to eat anything special –just make sure that you have a healthy, balanced, nutritious diet while breastfeeding.
Eating well while breastfeeding or producing breastmilk, does not necessarily mean spending lots of time in the kitchen: many nutritious foods are great for snacking on, or can be prepared very quickly. You may find it easier to satisfy your hunger by choosing foods that keep you feeling energetic.
Starchy foods like wholemeal bread, pasta and potatoes, as well as lean meat, dairy and fruit and veg are recommended for a balanced and healthy diet that will support you and your baby’s nutritional needs.
Breastfeeding women can often feel thirsty, so make sure you drink enough fluids (water, milk and unsweetened fruit juice are good options) and always have a drink to hand when you settle down to feed your baby. Drink to satisfy your thirst, but don’t overdo it – there is no proven link between fluid intake and milk supply.
Breastfeeding women are more at risk of vitamin D deficiency. 90% of the body’s vitamin D is formed in the skin with the help of sunlight. Your GP or health visitor can advise you on vitamin D supplements.
In short, what you eat does affect your breastmilk and understanding what you should eat to support your breastmilk production will help in a successful breastfeeding journey.
Although there are exceptions, most breastfeeding mothers find that they can eat what they like (in moderation, of course), including spicy foods, without it having an affectffect on their baby. However, you will want to avoid too much of some foods and types of drink:
Caffeine while breastfeeding
Too much caffeine while breastfeeding can keep your baby awake, or make them unusually fussy, so it is better to limit the amount of drinks you have containing caffeine (not only tea and coffee, but also cola and energy drinks). Some cold and flu remedies contain caffeine, and chocolate also contains a substance (theobromine) that is very similar and can produce the same effects.
Oily fish while breastfeeding
Eating fish is good for you, but don’t have more than two portions of oily fish a week.
The Department of Health advises a limit on oily fish for women because it can contain low levels of pollutants that can build up in the body. .
Alcohol while breastfeeding
Alcohol passes to breastfed babies in very small amounts and it is unlikely that having an occasional drink will harm your baby. However, it is sensible to drink very little (no more than one or two units once or twice a week) when you are breastfeeding.
If you intend to drink more than this on a special occasion, expressing breastmilk in advance is a good idea. If you have been drinking alcohol, never share a bed or sofa with your baby.
For more information on how to look after yourself after baby is born, read more here.
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