Breastfeeding your baby is the first essential step for his or her well being, it can also be a special time of bonding between you and the newcomer. However many women worry about weight loss and what foods they can and cannot eat whilst breastfeeding. If you are breastfeeding it is important for you and your baby that you enjoy a healthy, well balanced diet in order to give your baby the best start in life. It may be that you are worried about any post-pregnancy weight gain – but it is possible to follow a breastfeeding diet which will help your baby to thrive and also help you to lose weight.
When breast feeding a womans body will ensure that the best nutrients are in the breast milk – whatever the woman is ingesting, the babys needs will always come first. The quantity of the milk is dependent on mums diet but not the quality. If a mum is trying to follow a breastfeeding diet and lose weight she will fail to produce enough milk for the baby – an extra 500 calories a day are required for lactating mothers to maintain milk production. There are several things that are easy to do which will help maintain the health of mum and baby.
- Drink plenty of fluids – lactating mums need to drink plenty of fluids in order to produce breast milk, a good habit to develop is to drink a glass of water whilst feeding the baby.
- In the first 6 weeks of the babys life, in order to build up energy levels and sustain a supply of milk mum should be consuming around 2,500 calories daily. The best way to get this amount of calories is by eating 5 or 6 small meals throughout the day concentrating on complex carbohydrates, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and some good quality proteins. By the time the 7th week arrives it should be possible to reduce calorie intake to around 2,000 per day and it is now that the post pregnancy weight should, hopefully, begin to disappear. It is important to include a wide variety of food from all the food groups so that both mum and baby are receiving all the required nutrients. Basic guidelines for food intake are –
- 70 – 100g low fat protein daily
- 5 portions of vegetables – choose a selection of colours
- 4 portions of fruit
- Include the good fats found in nuts, avocado, olive oil and oily fish
- Have at least 3 portions of calcium
- 6 – 9 oz complex carbohydrates daily
- Avoid certain food items – in reality no food needs to be avoided – the maxim everything in moderation is certainly true when breastfeeding, however, you may notice that after certain foods the baby is unsettled or has loose stools – you may then prefer to avoid those foods until you have finished weaning. Clearly it is best to avoid drinks with too much caffeine in them but, on the other hand, the odd glass of wine is perfectly acceptable.
Breastfeeding is best for your baby and also for you so be sure to follow a healthy diet which will benefit both of you.