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Food and Drink: Does it really matter when breastfeeding?

Food and drink: What is best when breastfeeding?

While breastfeeding, it is best to lose the extra weight gradually, using healthy eating principles and adding in some extra exercise. A loss of up to about half a kilo per week is safe for breastfeeding mothers. Don't use crash or fad diets, where you lose weight quickly when you are breastfeeding. This can have a major impact on the amount of breast milk you produce and its nutrition as a whole.

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Before I go any further, can I please say that I am no expert on breastfeeding and everything that I write is based on either personal experiences ( 51 months of breastfeeding :) ) or research that I have carried out myself across a variety of reliable resources and summarised everything so that you don’t have to do all the hard work. If you think that you have a problem that needs addressing, as good as it is to do your own homework, please seek professional help as it’s the right thing to do. Don’t self-diagnose nor should you take “Dr Google’s advice” as gospel because you could make something worse.
Now back to our topic, I have tried to gather as much information as I can so all you have to do is grab a cuppa, sit down and enjoy this article! :)


What should you eat when breastfeeding?

You don't need to eat any special or different foods while you're breastfeeding. However, you should try to watch what you eat and follow a healthy, balanced diet which includes:

  • Starchy foods, such as bread and rice. Choose wholegrain varieties for added fibre.
  • Plenty of fruit and vegetables.
  • Some protein, such as lean meat, eggs and pulses. Have at least two portions of fish a week, including oily varieties, such as salmon.
  • Some low-fat dairy food, such as a yoghurt or a glass of milk.

What to avoid when breastfeeding?
It is safe to say that you can eat virtually anything you like while breastfeeding, in moderation. However, traces of food and drink can sometimes get into breast milk, and this may affect your baby so sometimes you may have to avoid certain foods like diary if your baby is intolerant to this. Some babies are affected by a protein in cow's milk, which causes symptoms such as:


  •  Bloating.
  •  Itchy skin and a rash.
  •  Swollen eyes, face or lips.
  •  Wheeziness or coughing.
  •  Diarrhoea.
  •  Constipation.
  •  Vomiting or reflux.
  •  A poor appetite.
  •  Eczema.
  •  Changes to her poo.
  •  Not growing well.


If you think that dairy is affecting your baby, talk to your health visitor about removing it from your diet for a week or so, to see if it makes a difference. Though if your baby has been diagnosed with a cow's milk allergy, your dietician will advise you about how to remove it from your diet completely. You may also need to take calcium and vitamin D supplements.

There isn't much evidence to suggest that certain foods you eat while you are breastfeeding cause your baby to have colic. Colic could be due a number of things, such as your baby not being latched on well, or gulping milk too enthusiastically and taking in too much air.

Some mums worry about eating peanuts while breastfeeding, but there's no real evidence that this makes your baby more likely to develop a peanut allergy. So as long as you're not allergic to peanuts, you can eat them as part of a balanced diet.


Do I need to drink more water when I'm breastfeeding?

You only need to drink enough to satisfy your thirst while you're breastfeeding. Drinking lots of water, or being thirsty, won't affect your milk supply. Your body is very good at regulating its reserves to keep your milk supply going.

However, bear in mind that during breastfeeding your body releases the hormone oxytocin, which makes you feel thirsty. So keep a drink nearby when you're breastfeeding
If you're worried about whether you're getting enough to drink, check the colour of your wee. If it's pale-coloured, you're getting plenty to drink. If it's dark yellow, or smells strongly, or if you feel lethargic or faint, you may be dehydrated, in which case you should drink more water.


Do I need extra calories when I am breastfeeding?

You don't need to have extra calories as a new mum, because your body is so efficient at producing milk. Be guided by your appetite, and eat when you're hungry. Your body may have laid down fat stores during pregnancy, and breastfeeding can help to use up these fat stores.

The amount you need to eat depends on your pre-pregnancy weight, and how much weight you gained during pregnancy, as well as how active you are.

Having said that, breastfeeding usually gives you a big appetite. So if you don't feel like eating, it could be a sign that you need extra emotional support. Women who have postnatal depression sometimes lose their appetite. If you're finding it a struggle to eat, talk to your doctor or health visitor.


Can I lose weight while I'm breastfeeding?

Yes. You may have put on a bit of weight while you were pregnant, so losing some of this weight while you're breastfeeding is fine. Losing about 500g (1lb) to 1kg (2lb) a week shouldn't affect the amount or the quality of milk you make.

However, if you have a new born, you'll need plenty of energy. Trying to lose weight too soon after giving birth may delay your recovery and make you feel even more tired. So try to wait until you've had your postnatal check before you lose weight.

Eating healthily and doing some gentle exercise will help you to get in shape. This is better than very strict low-calorie diets when you are breastfeeding. You can increase how much you exercise six weeks to eight weeks after giving birth, if you feel up to it.


Can I drink tea and coffee if I'm breastfeeding?

Avoid having lots of caffeinated drinks when you're breastfeeding. We don't have a UK guideline for a safe amount of caffeine for breastfeeding mums. In the US, women who are breastfeeding are recommended to have no more than about 200mg of caffeine a day. That's about two mugs of tea, or two mugs of instant coffee, or one mug of filter coffee, a day.

More than this amount of caffeine is unlikely to harm your baby. However, if your baby seems very unsettled or restless, or finds it difficult to sleep, try cutting back on caffeine, or not having any at all. This may make a difference to your baby.


Can I drink alcohol if I'm breastfeeding?

The occasional drink is unlikely to harm you or your baby. However, it's safest not to have more than one or two units of alcohol, once or twice a week, if you are breastfeeding.

Alcohol passes through your breast milk to your baby. Drinking more than two units a day while you are breastfeeding may reduce your milk supply, and even affect your baby's development.

As a rough guide:
• a small (125ml) glass of wine is two units
• a pint of strong lager is three units
• a bottle of alcopop is between one and two units

But this also depends on the strength of the drink, which will be detailed as a percentage on the label. The higher the percentage, the stronger the drink.

How fast alcohol enters your bloodstream, and then your breast milk, depends on how much you weigh, and whether you have a full or empty stomach. The amount of alcohol in your blood usually peaks between 30 minutes and 90 minutes after you have the drink. You'll need to allow an hour or two for your body to be clear of one unit of alcohol.

So if you want to have an alcoholic drink when you are breastfeeding, feed your baby before having the drink. Two or three hours later, when it's time to feed your baby again, the level of alcohol in your blood should be low enough not to affect your baby.

However, if your baby is new-born, she may need feeding more often than every two hours or three hours. So you may want to stick to soft drinks for the moment.


Do I need to take any supplements if I'm breastfeeding?

You should take a daily supplement for breastfeeding mums that contains 10 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D. Breastfed babies get vitamin D from breast milk, so you need to have enough vitamin D in your diet. If you took a supplement containing vitamin D when you were pregnant, you can carry on taking it while you're breastfeeding.

If you took a vitamin D supplement throughout pregnancy, and continue to take it while you're breastfeeding, your baby will receive enough vitamin D in his first few months. However, if you didn't take a vitamin D supplement in pregnancy, and are breastfeeding, your baby may need to have daily vitamin D drops from when he's a month old.

Vitamin D is made by our bodies when our skin is exposed to sunlight. It's important because it helps bones and teeth to grow healthily. In the UK, it can be hard to make enough vitamin D all year round, especially if you don't spend much time outside, or have dark skin.

If you are on a low income, you may be eligible for free healthy start vitamins, which contain vitamins A, C and D. Find out more at your doctor's surgery or health visitor's clinic for more information.
Breastfeeding comes with a set of responsibilities and this also means being mindful of what you put inside your body and what you do in general. Most of these things you do anyway even when you are not breastfeeding like eating healthy foods and exercising. The only difference is that because small traces of most foods can be found in breast milk, you just have to be careful that whatever you are eating won’t have a negative impact on your baby because that can lead to all sorts of complications and that is the last thing you need. If in doubt about something, ALWAYS seek professional help and don’t just rely on ‘Dr Google’ which I am sure we have all been there! :)


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Just because its a cute photo! Tilda at the park :)


Sources: WHO, Bestforbabes.org, healthychildren.org, BabyCentre.

By Stylish mamas.

Dated: 18/03/2016.

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