Just as when you were pregnant, it’s important to eat well while you’re breastfeeding, with plenty of wholesome fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein, and calcium-rich foods.
Your diet doesn’t have to be perfect. But try to have a healthy, balanced diet that includes plenty of fluids such as water, milk or unsweetened fruit juices. You need an estimated 300-500 extra calories per day as a breastfeeding mother.
Water & Milk: Breastfeeding might make you thirsty, so consider keeping a water bottle nearby so it’s there when you need it. Have a drink beside you when you settle down to breastfeed: water and skimmed or semi-skimmed milk are all good choices
Vitamins & Iron supplements: Ask your doctor if you should still take your prenatal vitamins — many doctors have women continue them during breastfeeding. To prevent problems associated with iodine deficiency, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all lactating women take a supplement that contains 150 micrograms of iodine per day, use iodized salt in their cooking, and eat foods high in iodine, like seafood and dairy products. If you are vegan or don’t eat dairy or fish, talk to your doctor about getting checked for iodine deficiency. You should also take a supplement of 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day.
Fruits & Vegetables: Have at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day, including fresh, frozen, tinned and dried fruit and vegetables, and no more than one 150ml glass of 100% unsweetened juice
Fibre: Consume plenty of fibre from wholemeal bread and pasta, breakfast cereals, rice, pulses such as beans and lentils, and fruit and vegetables – after birth, some women have bowel problems and constipation, and fibre helps control both of these.
Dairy products: Dairy foods, such as milk, cheese and yoghurt – these contain calcium and are a source of protein. Though listeria has been found in breastmilk, there have been no reports of it being transferred from mum to baby.
Protein-rich foods: Protein, such as lean meat and chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, soya foods and pulses – at least two portions of fish a week is recommended, including some oily fish.
Small amounts of what you’re eating and drinking can pass to your baby through your breast milk. If you think a food you’re eating is affecting your baby and they’re unsettled, please visit your general practitioner or doctor.