Your body is an awesome milk making machine, constantly adjusting your breastmilk to meet your baby’s changing needs. Because your body’s so efficient at producing milk, you don’t need to follow a particular diet or eat extra or different food while you’re breastfeeding. Just focus on nutritious choices that will keep your energy levels high.
Our favourite refuelling tips for new mums
- Listen to your body and eat when you’re hungry, not just for the sake of it. During pregnancy, your body prepares for breastfeeding by creating fat stores. When you start breastfeeding, these are naturally used to make milk, so breastfeeding can actually help you lose weight and keep it off.
- You’ve got enough to do looking after your baby, so meals and snacks need to be easy to prepare. Choose things like a homemade sandwich or jacket potato served with a portion of protein-rich food (for example egg, cheese, meat, fish) alongside some salad. Soup, beans on toast or scrambled eggs are also quick, filling and good for you. Try making meals in batches and freezing portions for later.
- Stock up on healthy snacks like carrot or cucumber sticks, breadsticks and hummus, fresh or dried fruit or yoghurt to keep you from raiding the biscuit tin for a quick but short-lived sugar fix.
- Breastfeeding can be thirsty work so keep a big glass of water within easy reach!
- Try not to overdo it on the caffeine when you’re breastfeeding – it can result in your baby being unsettled or finding it hard to sleep, which is the last thing you need!
- It’s also a good idea to avoid drinking alcohol while you’re breastfeeding. If your baby’s feeding regularly, there probably won’t be enough time between feeds for it to clear from your system so it will pass to your baby via your milk.
- If you’re eating a healthy diet, you shouldn’t need to take vitamin supplements, although in the UK many of us don’t get enough vitamin D during the winter months as the body makes vitamin D when we’re exposed to sunlight. Talk to your GP or public health nurse (health visitor) about recommended vitamin D supplements.
- Check out the Healthy Start website to see if you qualify for free weekly vouchers which can be spent on milk, fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, and formula milk, as well as vitamins. You can also call the helpline on 0845 607 6823 or talk to your public health nurse (health visitor). Take a closer at our article on Healthy Start vouchers too.
- If you’ve completely lost your appetite and are finding it a struggle to eat, talk to your public health nurse (health visitor) or GP as it could be a sign of postnatal depression. They’ll ensure you get the support you need.
- Breastfeeding and diet on NHS Choices
- Healthy Eating advice on NHS Choices
- Start4Life Off to the best start leaflet
- National breastfeeding helpline 0300 100 0212
- Healthy Start – vouchers and vitamins for healthy eating
- Infant feeding support groups in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland
- Start4Life- Breastfeeding
Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust runs a confidential secure text messaging service for parents of children aged 0-19 years called Chat Health. The service operates Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, excluding bank holidays. All texts will be responded to by a public health nurse (health visitor/school nurse) within 24 hours. Outside of the service working hours, you’ll receive a message back to inform you that your text will be responded to once the line reopens.
Should you require urgent health advice in the meantime, please contact your GP, visit an NHS walk-in centre or call NHS 111. For emergencies, dial 999 or visit A&E.
Leicester City: text 07520 615381
Leicestershire & Rutland: text 07520 615382