By Jessica Bauer
Congratulations! Your little one is here in this world! Now it’s time to think about how important it is to look after yourself so that you can look after your baby. Nutrition is one thing that you can control to give your baby the best available opportunity to continue to grow.
To start us off lets bust some myths about food and breastfeeding:
- Whilst breastfeeding you must remove all dairy products and nuts to avoid an allergic reaction in your baby? ⇒ This is false! Maternal dietary exclusion is not usually recommended to prevent anaphylaxis in infancy; such reactions almost always require the child to ingest the food.
- Mothers should be encouraged to breastfeed if their infant has anaphylaxis? ⇒ This is true.
- Alcohol can be passed through to the breastmilk ⇒ This is true.
Why is nutrition important during breastfeeding?
Good nutrition is important for breastfeeding mothers as it helps ensure healthy milk production and composition. In addition it keeps your body healthy. Trying to crash diet to lose ”the baby weight” or restricting whole food groups during breastfeeding can lead to many health complications, including potentially reducing your milk supply.
In fact breastfeeding will help you get rid of the fat tissues that were stored during your pregnancy by using this fat as a source of energy to make the milk!!
What are the key nutrients during breastfeeding?
Calories. Yes calories are an important nutrient during breastfeeding. The word calorie describes the energy that food provides our body to function properly (Think of it like fuelling your car with petrol; if you don’t fill your car with petrol then the car won’t run; so it’s the same if you don’t provide your body with calories then we won’t function.) During breastfeeding your calorie requirements increase by approximately 500cal per day.
So what does an added 500cal look like in a typical day?
- A large piece of fruit (apple or pears ) = 120cal
- A tub of yogurt (Chobani or YoPro are the best types of yogurts) = 100cal
- 2 tablespoon of light Philadelphia cheese with 2 Vitaweat (9 grains) crackers = 200cal
Adding all three of these extra snacks you will add approx. 500cal in your day.
Protein isn’t generally increased during breastfeeding (except for mothers who are vegetarian). It is still important that you are meeting your general protein requirements. Protein will also provide you with iron which is important during breastfeeding. During your pregnancy and birth your iron stores were depleted so this is the time to rebuild them.
General requirements for women aged 19 – 50 are 2 ½ serves per day of lean protein. These are all one serve:
- 65g of cooked lean red meat
- 80g of cooked chicken
- 100g of cooked fish fillet
- 2 large eggs
- 170g tofu
Other key vitamin and minerals which are required in slightly higher amounts during breastfeeding includes; vitamin C, A, iron and folate.
Vitamin C food sources include:
- Citrus fruits, berries, tropical fruit, tomatoes, capsicum and potatoes
Vitamin A food sources include:
- Dark green and yellow vegetables such as broccoli, carrots and pumpkin
Folate food sources include:
- Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, cabbage and brussel sprouts
The key nutrition messages during breastfeeding are:
- Don’t skip any meals – you are most likely going to miss out on vital nutrients
- Don’t go on strict diets to lose weight – this could make you feel even more tired and run down!
- Limit any added sugars such as soft drinks, fruit juices, sweet biscuits, cakes, and lollies – this will again make you feel tired and run down and increase the likelihood of keeping the extra weight on
- Make sure you are enjoying a wide variety of foods that will help you and your baby be healthy
- Enjoy your special time as a family and don’t rush to get back to your pre-pregnancy body; remember it took 9 months to a grow a little human so it may take another 9 months or more to lose some of that weight !
If you think you need help with your diet seek help from an Accredited Practising Dietitian in your area. To find your nearest APD check out the Dietitians Association Australia website www.daa.asn.au/find-an-apd
Jessica Bauer is an Accredited Practising Dietitian. She has a passion for children’s health and well – being and loves working will all types of people – big or small, young or old using food to do good. In her spare time, she loves finding that perfectly brewed coffee, jumping out of airplanes and walking her puppies at Ballam Park.