Dietitian Robyn Lawrence shares her tips for eating healthy once baby has arrived and if you are breastfeeding how to keep up with the demands on your body.
Breast milk provides all the nutrients your baby needs to stay healthy up to about 6 months of age. If you are able to breastfeed, this is the healthiest option for you and your baby. Not only does the composition of breast milk change to meet your baby’s needs as they grow but it also provides beneficial immunoglobulins (special immune boosting proteins), fosters a close relationship between mother and baby and also helps you to return to your pre-baby weight! Your body uses even more energy to make breast milk than it does during pregnancy so making sure you find the time to eat right is essential. Choose a wide variety of foods from each of the main food groups. Targets for the number of servings from each of the food groups are the same as during pregnancy but with a little more attention needed around fluids.
- getting enough fluid is important. Use your thirst as a guide and try to have a glass of water with each breastfeed.
- caffeine is transferred in breast milk and can affect your baby’s sleeping patterns and make them irritable. Limit drinks containing caffeine such as coffee, tea, cola or energy drinks. Have no more than six cups of tea or instant coffee or three ‘single’ espresso-type coffees or one ‘double’ espresso type coffee per day.
- water or low fat milk are the best choices.
- it’s best to continue to avoid alcohol while breastfeeding as alcohol passes into breast milk and can affect your baby’s growth and development
Even with a well-balanced diet, it is difficult to get enough iodine from food alone. Take one 150 microgram iodine-only tablet daily while you are breastfeeding. This can be purchased from pharmacies with a reduced cost when prescribed by your LMC. Supplements containing seaweed, kelp and iodine are not recommended because the iodine content and quality of the supplements can vary.
If you find that certain foods you are eating are affecting your baby, speak to your LMC about a referral to a dietitian. A dietitian can make sure that you and your baby don’t miss out on important nutrients if you remove any foods from your diet.
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