Did you know we need more kilojoules for breastfeeding than during pregnancy? In fact, the body fat gained during pregnancy is partly for fueling times of breastfeeding.[i] Creating milk is a demand on the body, so it’s important to nourish yourself when breastfeeding and concentrate on meeting adequate dietary nutritional needs.
Energy – every new mother’s wish!
Due to the physical demands of breastfeeding, as well as the demands of caring for a baby, it can also be a time where fatigue is expereiced, so fueling yourself is very important. Although the lack of sleep can have you craving sweets for a quick pick-me-up, try swapping them for more nutritious choices that will fuel you. Try fresh fruit over juice, and fruit and yoghurt for a sweet-tasting treat. Reach for some squares of dark chocolate and some nuts rather than a bag of lollies. For help with energy production, turn to long lasting, lower-glycemic index carbohydrate varieties such as wholegrain bread and cereals, and legumes and lentils (for example, in soups or in salads).
Although you have a million other things to think about, keep your fluid intake up, as a lack of fluid can make us feel tired. It’s easy to forget about drinking when we’re busy, so keep a water bottle on hand or a cup of herbal tea, particularly when breastfeeding, and leave the sugary drinks behind.
During pregnancy and lactation, it is important to have enough calcium from the diet. Dairy foods will help provide the most, well utilised calcium, however you can also reach for plant sources of calcium such as soy, fortified soy drinks, green leafy vegetables, almonds and broccoli. Try having a glass of milk by your side while feeding.
Key nutrients for you and bub
Zinc (meat and tofu), iodine (seafood), vitamins A (carrots, dark leafy greens) and B12 (meat and dairy) are necessary during breastfeeding, as these particular nutrients are important for your baby, so try eating foods rich in these vitamins and minerals.
Vegan or vegetarian?
Dietetic counselling is generally needed for vegan breastfeeding or for mothers with any other dietary restrictions, to prevent nutrient deficiencies that may impact their infants and themselves. Also, vegetarian mothers need to be aware that because of their high fibre diets, they may have reduced appetites that can limit the amount of food they eat. Your healthcare professional can provide you with more information to determine what the best option is for you and your baby.
It’s recommended to exclusively breastfeed your infant for the first six months. Remember to speak to a healthcare professional for more advice during breastfeeding.