After childbirth, a mum’s topmost concern is usually to keep their little ones healthy by providing them with the right nutrition. And if you intend to breastfeed your baby, that means you still need to watch what you’re eating after giving birth -- you’re pretty much still eating for two!
Breast milk will be the only source of nutrients your baby will have during the first 6 months, so you want to be sure you’re passing on the right ones to your little one.
Here is a quick list of food and beverages you should take in more of, limit or avoid altogether while breastfeeding. (Of course, there’s some good news -- you definitely have more freedom to eat what you want compared to when you were carrying your baby!)
What to eat while breastfeeding
You don’t need to have a specific diet while you’re breastfeeding or special breastfeeding food. Instead, plan for more well-balanced meals that have all the nutrients that you and your baby need.
These specific nutrients include protein, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, B12, selenium, and zinc.
So try to eat a variety of food that’s nutrient-dense, to ensure both of you get the macro- and micro-nutrients you need.
Here are some food choices you can prioritise when breastfeeding:
Fish and seafood: salmon, seaweed, shellfish, sardines
Meat and poultry: chicken, beef, lamb, pork, organ meats
Fruits and vegetables: berries, tomatoes, bell peppers, cabbage, kale, garlic, broccoli
Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseeds
Healthy fats: avocados, olive oil, coconut, eggs, full-fat yogurt
Fiber-rich starches: potatoes, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, beans, lentils, oats, quinoa, buckwheat
Other foods: tofu, dark chocolate, kimchi, sauerkraut
Don’t feel restricted to this list, though! There are other nutritious meals you can have that provide the same benefits as well.
What about drinks?
This may sound obvious, but don’t forget to stay hydrated.
Breast milk is about 90% water. While you may not necessarily feel thirstier as you breastfeed, it’s recommended that you drink water before and after you feed your baby, so keep a bottle of water within reach at all times.
What foods and drinks to avoid while breastfeeding
Ah... The dreaded list of foods to avoid when breastfeeding.
As much as we want you to have full freedom to consume whatever you’d like, there are still a few items you’re recommended not to have while breastfeeding and why.
Fish that are high in mercury
You’ll want to avoid fish that are high in mercury, such as swordfish, mackerel, bigeye tuna and marlin.
Why? When ingested by breastfeeding mums, some of the mercury may be passed on to their babies through their breast milk, affecting their baby’s brain and nervous system development.
Common sources of caffeine include coffee, tea (yes, bubble tea too), and even some forms of carbonated drinks.
If you consume large amounts of caffeine, some of it will end up in the breast milk your baby consumes. This can pose a problem as babies have a hard time processing and breaking down caffeine, causing them to become irritable and have trouble sleeping.
The good news is, however, that you can still have a moderate amount of caffeine each day. Try to keep your consumption levels at around 300mg of caffeine daily -- that’s about 2-3 cups of coffee!
Similar to caffeine consumption, a breastfeeding mum needs to be mindful of her alcohol intake, as it can be passed along to her little one through her breast milk.
That being said, it’s not a hard “no” should you wish to enjoy a night of wining and dining.
Simply wait 2-3 hours for your body to flush out the alcohol before breastfeeding your baby. Or you can choose to pump and dump to be extra safe!
What else do you need to ease your breastfeeding journey?
Breastfeeding (and pumping) certainly aren’t easy, which is why you need a good breast pump to help smoothen the process.
We’ve helped many mums make breastfeeding a hassle-free process with our Elvie breast pump. The silent, wearable pump can be inserted right into your nursing bra, which means you can use it anytime, anywhere!
The Elvie Catch is also an important item to have. The slip-proof, breast milk collection cup will ensure that you won’t experience any leakage while you’re feeding from one breast.