Food can be your friend or your foe during breastfeeding.
Certain food choices can boost your nutrient and energy levels while others may contribute to an unsettled baby.
Knowing what to eat or what to avoid may be helpful in the early months of a newborn’s life.
What to eat
The ‘good’ fats
Your baby’s nervous system is still forming and developing after birth and this relies heavily on enough omega-3 essential fatty acids. Oily fish, walnuts, chia seeds and walnuts all contain omega-3.
It is likely that as a new breastfeeding mum you are craving the carbs. This makes sense as you are burning calories at a very fast rate! But be careful not to reach for the refined sugars to fix the craving and instead go for whole grain pastas and breads, brown rice, and quinoa to provide a wealth of vitamins and minerals and to keep your energy levels up for longer.
Plenty of protein
Again, if your energy levels are low and you are snacking more on refined carbs than anything else, try to bring in some protein sources at snack times and to also ensure protein is a part of every meal.
Enjoy sushi? Well, the seaweed (nori) is a good source of iodine essential for the brain of your baby. Iodine easily passes into the breast milk and deficiencies have been linked with poor cognitive development and low IQ.
Your breast milk is primarily water and most mum’s feel an insatiable thirst as soon as the baby starts sucking. Always carry a bottle of water around with you to avoid dehydration which can make you feel a bit sluggish and tired.
Carminative herbs & spices
Add fennel seeds, cinnamon and ginger to your cooking: These spices have been traditionally used to help ease baby colic when given to the baby in the correct doses. It won’t hurt to give yourself some in the hope that the active constituents pass into the milk.
Home cooked meals
While take-away may seem the easy option for the time-poor, it is often lacking in nutrients and laden with sugar and salt. If anyone asks you if they can do anything for you - get them to cook you a nutritious meal!
What not to eat
The good news is that unlike pregnancy, there aren’t too many foods on the ‘can’t eat’ list.
However there are a few things to be on the lookout for if your baby is unsettled or sensitive in the tummy.
Try avoiding coffee, chocolate, and dairy to begin with. There may be other foods that your baby can’t tolerate you eating such as certain types of curries and spices.
Try avoiding caffeine (for example coffee, tea, chai, chocolate, cola and energy drinks) and dairy.
Try avoiding anything you may be allergic too. The biggest culprits are eggs, dairy, soy and wheat.