Looking after yourself after baby is born: eating & breastfeeding
Why it's important to eat well after baby is bornCongratulations on your new gorgeous bundle. But while all the focus is on your new precious baby, we mustn’t forget about you. In a lot of Mediterranean countries, it is common practice for a new mum to be put on strict rest for 30 days after birth; to recover and bond with their baby. Which means no laundry, housework or cooking! We all know this is far from reality in most homes, but it is so important to look after yourself and give yourself time and to take it easy on yourself. So, take a moment out, some good deep breaths, and let’s get some good food into you.
Does my diet change if I am breastfeeding
Should you be eating different foods if you are breastfeeding?
Your body is incredibly efficient at producing milk. Although you don’t need to eat a special diet when
breastfeeding, it’s good to eat a healthy, balanced range of foods. This will not only nourish you after the
major changes you and your body have gone through, but also support your baby’s development. And
the good news is, you can now enjoy some of those foods you were advised to avoid whilst pregnant…
Beware, though: breastfeeding can make you feel ravenous, so make sure you have a selection of
nutritious, tasty snacks to hand for when hunger strikes. And don’t forget, tiredness often increases our
hunger levels too, so stock up!
Getting a balanced diet as a new mum?
Whether you are breast or bottle feeding, we think balance is key, and love the way the Mediterranean’s do it.
To add a little more ‘Med’ into your eating, here are some simple ways to get started:
Include a variety of colourful vegetables & fruit
you’re aiming for at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. That can include fresh, cooked, frozen and dried fruit and vegetables. A few portions in each meal will have you on track—especially if you include at least two servings of vegetables at lunch and dinner and add a fruity breakfast or snack into the mix.
Get plenty of fibre
to combat constipation—a common niggle for mums after giving birth. You’ll get fibre from vegetables and fruit (especially leafy greens like kale and spinach), as well as from pulses like lentils and beans, and from wholegrains such as oats, brown rice or wholemeal bread.
Eat good quality fat (yes, fat!)
Full of nutrients, good fats and oils include olive oil, oily fish (like salmon and mackerel), nuts, seeds, olives and avocado. Our hacks? Make a jar of your own salad dressing with olive oil, lemon and garlic, and keep a bag of walnuts or snack pack of olives in your baby’s changing bag to nibble on when you’re out and about.
Include quality sources of protein in your diet
such as lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, soya foods and pulses. Try to eat some protein in each meal, because this will help you maintain your energy levels. It’s currently recommended that you eat at least two portions of fish per week, including oily fish.
Add a little dairy to your diet too
for calcium and essential protein. Include a small amount of milk, natural, unsweetened yoghurt and cheese. If you are intolerant to dairy, you can get your calcium from green leafy vegetables, legumes, fish and fruit. Calcium is more easily absorbed with vitamin D (which fish and cheese contain in any case).
drink plenty of fluids including water and herbal teas
We recommend always having a drink beside you when you settle down to breastfeed. After all, you never know how long a feed’s going to take!
any foods to avoid?
You can eat pretty much most foods while you’re breastfeeding. Balance is the name of the game, so have
very sugary, salty or high-fat foods (like fried food) in moderation. Remember that traces of food and
drink can get into your breastmilk, and this in turn may affect your baby.
If you aren’t experiencing an increase in appetite and are just not interested in food right now, this could
be a sign that you may need some extra support. If you are finding it a struggle to eat, speak to your
doctor or health visitor.
This can be an overwhelming time—think of all the amazing work your body has done so far, and that it continues to do! Rest when you can and take good care of yourself.
And if you’re struggling to adjust, the NCT has some wonderful resources on adapting to life with a new
baby, dealing with hormonal changes and postnatal depression:
common questions mums
ask when breastfeeding