Breastfeeding

If you have chosen to breastfeed your baby, this will have huge benefits for you both.

 

As well as helping protect your baby from infections while they’re small, it will also reduce their chance of developing conditions such as type 2 diabetes and obesity later in life.

Woman breastfeeding her baby

Benefits for mum and baby

It’s also great for you too. Breastfeeding reduces your chances of developing certain cancers in later life, it’s free and it’s a lovely, natural way to burn energy when fully established – so it can be great to help towards losing any excess baby weight.

While you’re breastfeeding

Energy

Producing milk for breastfeeding takes up a lot of energy, so it’s recommended that mums consume a healthy, balanced diet to supply all the extra nutrients needed. Most mums will feel hungrier due to the energy being used. Opting for healthier foods will help to prevent weight gain.

Calcium

If you’re breastfeeding, you will need more calcium (an extra 550mg a day, taking a woman’s requirements to 1250mg per day), so include some calcium-rich foods each day. Here are some examples along with the amount of calcium they provide:

Food Calcium
300ml skimmed milk 375mg
300ml semi-skimmed milk 365mg
300ml whole milk 360mg
300ml goat’s milk 360mg
300ml sweetened calcium-enriched soya drink 360mg
30g Cheddar 220mg
30g edam 250mg
30g emmental 290mg
30g gouda 240mg
30g Parmesan 350mg
30g mozzarella 150mg
30g reduced-fat Cheddar 250mg
300ml unsweetened calcium-enriched soya drink 360mg
100g fat-free natural/flavoured yogurt 160mg
100g fat-free natural/flavoured fromage frais 130mg
100g plain quark 120mg
100g low-fat/virtually fat-free cottage cheese 130mg
100g sardines, canned in tomato sauce 430mg
100g pilchards, canned in tomato sauce 250mg
100g purple sprouting broccoli 200mg
100g curly kale 130mg
100g okra 160mg

Vitamin D 

Dietary sources of vitamin D include dairy foods, eggs, margarine, liver and oily fish, and of course sunshine is a great vitamin D provider. Your intake of vitamin D is important to ensure your baby gets enough of it through your milk.

 

As sunlight is the main source of vitamin D and there are few dietary sources, all adults and children over five years old, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, are advised to consider taking a 10 microgram vitamin D supplement daily. For more information on vitamin D visit the NHS website

 

Fish 

Eating fish is great for both your and your baby's health while youre breastfeeding. Its recommended that you continue to limit the amount of oily fish you eat to no more than two 140g portions per week, to prevent the build up of pollutants. Shark, swordfish and marlin are also particularly high in mercury, so should be enjoyed no more than once a week. 

 

Caffeine 

Caffeine in your breast milk can make your baby restless (and no one wants that!). While you can enjoy a little more caffeine than you did while pregnant, the NHS recommends breastfeeding mums restrict their caffeine intake to no more than 300mg a day. 

 

  • 1 mug instant coffee = 100mg.
  • 1 mug filter coffee = 140mg.
  • 1 mug tea = 75mg.
  • 1 can cola (diet or regular) = 40mg.
  • 50g bar plain chocolate = most UK brands contain less than 25mg.
  • 50g bar milk chocolate = most UK brands contain less than 10mg.

 

Alcohol 

Small amounts of what youre eating and drinking can pass to your baby through your breast milk, and theres some evidence that regularly drinking more than two units of alcohol a day while breastfeeding may affect your babys development. Breastfeeding women are advised to have no more than one or two units of alcohol, once or twice a week. Heres a reminder of some drinks and their average units.

 

  • Half a pint of lager (4.6% vol.) = 1.4 units.
  • 35ml gin and slimline tonic = 1.4 units.
  • 125ml (small) glass white wine (10.5-12.5% vol.) = 1.5 units.
  • 125ml (small) glass red wine (12.5-13.5% vol.) = 1.7 units.

Please visit drinkaware.co.uk for more information.

 

Peanuts and allergy 

Its fine to enjoy peanuts and products containing peanuts, such as peanut butter, as part of a healthy, balanced diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding if you like them (unless of course you are allergic to them). There is no clear evidence that eating peanuts during pregnancy and breastfeeding affects your babys chance of developing a peanut allergy.

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