Top Foods to Eat While Breastfeeding

You don’t need a special diet while breastfeeding. But what you eat does need to be nutritionally balanced.

You need extra nutrients when you are breastfeeding as your baby is depending on you for 100% of their nutrition. Extreme diets that cut out major food groups are a no-no while breastfeeding as you miss out on getting the nutrients you and your bub need.

The good news is dietary restrictions from pregnancy do not apply to breastfeeding mums, so everything is back on the menu!

So, which foods should you eat while breastfeeding?

1. Wholegrain, high-fibre foods:

Aim to get most of your carbohydrate intake from grains such as quinoa, oats, brown rice, brown pasta, and dark rye bread. Carbohydrates provide the energy you need to care for your baby and yourself throughout the day. Your carbohydrate sources should be high in fibre. High fibre foods take longer to digest, and therefore stay in the stomach for longer. This keeps you feeling fuller for longer and reduces the need for snacking.

2. Vegetables:

A large portion of your overall food intake should come from vegetables. Try to include 7.5 servings per day of a wide variety of colourful veggies.

3. Legumes:

Beans, peas, and lentils are all nutrient-dense, high fibre foods that will keep you feeling full.

4. Protein-rich foods:

Eggs, poultry, red meat, and fish are all great sources of protein. For vegetarians and vegans, tofu, chickpeas, lentils, and nuts are all easy high protein options. Protein is also necessary to heal from childbirth and a requirement for your baby’s growth. It also helps to reduce cravings and helps you to feel full for longer. Include high protein foods 2-3 times per day.

5. Fruit:

The recommended fruit intake for breastfeeding women is two pieces per day.

6. Dairy products:

The Institute of Medicine recommends that nursing mothers above the age of 18 consume 1,000mg of calcium per day. 1000mg can be made up of 100g almonds, 200g of yoghurt, and two cheese slices.

7. Healthy Fats:

When you are breastfeeding, the only source of fat for your baby’s growing brain is from you. Therefore, it’s critical to get adequate amounts of fat in your diet, especially the essential fatty acid DHA ,one of the omega-3 fats. Omega-3s can be found in fatty fish, such as salmon, and also in plant-based sources such as walnuts, flax, and chia seeds

Can you have treats?

At In Shape Mummy, we believe in the 90/10 rule. Eat an abundance of unprocessed, good quality whole foods 90% of the time and allow yourself to relax completely with the remaining 10%.

It's all about balance. If you’re trying to lose weight, it doesn't mean you need to eliminate treats like ice cream and chocolate from your diet. You can still eat these foods guilt-free once in a while, as long as you're eating quality, wholesome foods the majority of the time.

Allergies in breastfed babies

In rare cases, a breastfed baby may have an allergy or intolerance to foods the mother is eating. The most common foods that cause allergies are dairy products, soy products, wheat and eggs.

Keeping a food diary of what you eat alongside a record of the symptoms your baby exhibits should help you determine which foods are causing the problem.

Removing the possible foods from your diet should solve the problem but it may take around one month for your baby’s symptoms to resolve. A visit with a food allergies specialist may help you plan your diet.

Can you drink coffee when breastfeeding?

When you’re breastfeeding in the early months of your baby's life, concentrate your effort on eliminating or restricting your caffeine consumption. You may find it easier to know that you can slowly increase your consumption as they grow. In really young babies their liver takes up to 5 days to process caffeine. This gets better with time as their body starts to improve its metabolism of caffeine. After about 6 months, generally, the clearance of caffeine is quite good.

The caffeine level in breast milk peaks about 2 hours after consumption. As with an alcoholic drink, if you are going to drink a caffeinated drink you will limit the impact on your baby if you drink it straight after a feed. This ensures that the peak level in the milk is passed by the time the next feed comes around (unless they are demand feeding, then it is obviously a different story).

Chocolate also contains a small amount of caffeine, although only about 1/10th as much as coffee. Dark chocolate is a good source of antioxidants, therefore it can be a nice, healthy treat when consumed in moderation. A square or two of chocolate can really help improve a challenging afternoon chasing after kids!

A Quick & Easy Solution to Help Breastfeeding Mums

Preparing healthy food all the time can be a challenge as a busy mum. That’s why the In Shape Mummy Health Shake can be your saviour! It is jam-packed with the vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and easy-to-digest protein you need for a Healthy Weight, to Sustain Energy levels and Support your Milk Supply, alongside a balanced diet.

And for those times when you're craving something sweet, the Chocolate Brownie and Caramel Fudge In Shape Mummy Health Shakes are the perfect way to curb your cravings.

In Summary

Maintaining a healthy diet will help you and your baby thrive, as well as help you achieve a healthy weight. Aim to have a healthy diet 90% of the time. For the remaining 10%, choose foods that make you feel happy. Breastfeeding is an incredibly selfless act, don't deny yourself a treat here and there. You deserve it.

Shevi is a qualified nutritionist with a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and food sciences. As a new mum herself, she is passionate about postnatal-related nutrition. Shevi has worked alongside some of the most famous leaders and celebrities in the fitness industry throughout Australia and the UK.

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