Hey Jess, I’ve recently given birth and have chosen to breastfeed, but I’ve seen a lot of mixed advice about the extra nutrients I need to consume. Honestly I’m too exhausted to know where to begin. Please can you help a tired Mum?
Firstly, a big congratulations on the birth of your little one. While there are good guidelines on what to consume while pregnant to aid your baby's growth and development, it’s important to think about your nutrition even after the baby is born.
Understandably, being a tired parent doesn’t give you much energy to sift through all the information, so let me simplify a few points to remember if you are choosing to breastfeed.
Here are a few things you need a little extra of:
Consider adding an extra 300-500 calories a day, especially during the initial six months of exclusive breastfeeding, to meet the increased energy demands. Keep in mind the amount can vary from person to person so stay aware of your hunger cues.
Hydration is key while breastfeeding. A general rule of thumb is to up your fluid intake by an extra liter, aiming for 2-3 liters per day. Sipping on a drink while feeding is encouraged. Remember milk and herbal teas also count towards your hydration goals.
Aim for an additional 10-15g or protein a day during the first six months of breastfeeding (how much protein do you usually need? general guideline is 0.75g per kg of body weight per day). Protein-rich foods such as legumes, nuts, and seeds, can help you to meet these needs.
A nutrient to keep an eye on. Daily requirements when breastfeeding increase by 550mg per day. The best sources include milk, yogurt, hard cheeses, calcium fortified tofu. As an example, one cup of fortified plant milk contains approx. 300mg of calcium.
Here’s a couple of things you should consider limiting:
While caffeine may seem like the go-to choice after a sleepless night, aim to limit your intake to less than 200mg a day. To help, this is equal to 2 cups of tea.
It’s advised to avoid any alcohol for the first 3 months of breastfeeding. Following this, limit intake to no more than two units per week. If you decide to enjoy a drink, consider leaving a few hours between drinking alcohol and breastfeeding.
Please remember to take it easy on yourself. You don’t need to have the perfect diet while breastfeeding. Just be aware of a few nutrients to increase or limit as these can go a long way in supporting you and your baby.
Maintaining a balanced diet while breastfeeding pretty much aligns with general guidelines, so load up on fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fiber, and keep hydrated. However, there are a couple of tweaks in order, such as increasing overall calories and bumping up protein and calcium.
It’s also a good idea to be mindful of caffeine and alcohol consumption during this time. As always please reach out to your GP/midwife if you have any concerns about you or your baby.
Jessica Stansfield, RNutr
Junior Nutrition Manager
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