Eating a healthy diet will help ensure you have the energy to meet the needs of a new baby. By making nutritious choices, you will keep your energy levels high. Remember to eat and drink regularly throughout the day too.
A varied diet is good for both you and baby. Whatever you eat changes the smell and taste of your breast milk, so you will expose your baby to lots of different flavours by eating a variety of foods. This helps your baby when you start introducing solid foods.
Our favourite refuelling tips for new mothers:
- Keep hydrated- This will help your body to produce enough milk. Breastfeeding is thirsty work, so always keep a glass/bottle of water to hand
- Eat when you are hungry, not just for the sake of it
- Have healthy snacks available- Nuts, carrot sticks, bread sticks and hummus are good snacks to give you a ‘pick-me-up’ rather than sugary snacks. The NHS has a food scanner app that you can use to find healthy food alternatives.
- Sandwiches, such as tuna mayonnaise, or cheese on toast can be eaten with one hand whilst you are feeding or cuddling your baby
- Try batch cooking (or ask friends and family) so that you can freeze portions
- Multivitamins and Vitamin D help to boost your immune system
This vitamin is very important to keep bones and muscles healthy. It also helps boost the immune system.
All pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised to take daily vitamin D supplement of 10mgs. A Vitamin D supplement is also recommended for all breastfed babies from birth until 4 years. Free vitamins are available for families on the Healthy Start scheme.
Excessive caffeine can affect your baby in the early days. If your baby becomes unsettled after you have had a cup of tea or coffee, try decaf versions. Remember that some soft drinks and chocolate also contain caffeine too.
It’s known that alcohol does pass through breast milk to babies in very small amounts. As alcohol leaves your blood, it leaves your breast milk too. It is unlikely that having an occasional drink will harm your baby, but it might affect how your baby feeds.
Things to consider if having alcohol:
Feed first, drink later: Aim to have your drink right after you’ve breastfed rather than before, if possible.
Express before drinking: If you intend to have more than a couple of drinks, consider expressing milk (link to expressing article) in advance.
Caring for your baby: Drinking alcohol may impact on your ability to care for your baby however they are fed. Nominate a parent to care for your baby, a bit like having a nominated driver.
When you have been drinking alcohol, it’s very important to never share a bed, sofa or chair with your baby as this increases the risk of SIDS (cot death).
If you’ve completely lost your appetite and are finding it a struggle to eat, talk to your Health Visitor or GP and they’ll help you get the support you need.
- NHS- Breastfeeding and diet
- NHS- Eating a balanced diet
- Start4Life- Off to the best start leaflet
- National breastfeeding helpline 0300 100 0212
- Healthy Start – vouchers and vitamins for healthy eating
- Start4Life- Breastfeeding
- NHS – Food scanner app