Healthy breastfeeding diet for mum
Now you're breastfeeding there's no need to obsessively stress, as you did during pregnancy, that the foods you’re eating (and not eating) can be detrimental. The basic make-up of your milk is independent of what you’re eating, so your biggest concern should be getting enough energy to produce milk, not necessarily getting the right nutrients. (Although make sure you’re eating well for your own sake!)
For your health and to ensure a healthy milk production, do not cut kilojoules. We know you want to get back in those pre-baby jeans, but don't rush it. If you aren’t taking in enough kilojoules, your nutritional stores will get depleted, potentially causing serious health problems like osteoporosis.
While your milk takes care of the nutrients, try to eat a wide variety of foods. Studies show what you eat affects how your milk tastes and smells, therefore exposing your baby to an array of flavors and possibly affecting future eating habits. There’s also evidence that breastfed babies transition easier to solid foods because of this early exposure.
On the flip side, there might be a trial-and-error period to see what foods (if any) have an adverse reaction on your baby - even , in rare instances, causing allergic reactions.
Broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips and onions have been known to cause gas.
Watery and/or citrus fruits like watermelon, peaches and grapefruits might cause loose stools, diarrhoea or skin rashes.
Cows milk, soy, nuts, fish, chocolate or wheat might cause an allergic reaction, most notably appearing as:
- Blood in stool
- Rash or hives
- Unusual crankiness
- No weight gain
If you're concerned that your baby may be experiencing reactions to any foods you eat, discuss any suspicions with your doctor. It takes about two to six hours for your baby to taste what you ate, so if you think a certain food is causing a reaction, try eliminating it for a few days to see how your baby does.
Eating organic foods whenever possible may help to protect your milk from pesticides and chemicals. But don’t worry if you cannot afford organic foods or if they're not available in your area - your milk has a pretty good filtering system.
Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products as well as lean meat and poultry. Not only is it better for shedding that baby weight, but ingested chemicals and pesticides are stored in the animal’s fat.
Choose your fish the same way you did when you were pregnant: Avoid mercury-heavy fish like swordfish, marlin and shark, and limit your intake of orange roughy (sea perch) and catfish to a maximum of once a week.
This article was written by Linda Drummond for Kidspot, New Zealand's leading pregnancy and parenting resource.