With the plethora of advice available on the internet relating to giving birth it would be easy for new moms to become overwhelmed with information regarding breastfeeding and diet. Breastfeeding is hard enough anyway – you’ve just given birth after being pregnant for 9 months, your whole world has been turned upside down and you have a screaming child demanding food every 2-3 hours. Firstly let me say congratulations and I sincerely wish you the very best and most special times with the new addition to your family. Secondly, and I know this might not be the easiest, is try not to panic about every aspect of bringing up your child – there are no hard and fast rules as each of us is unique. Following some guidelines should work well for most people but there are always exceptions and if you or your baby aren’t happy with something then you should look for alternatives. This is especially true when it comes to breastfeeding – whether it’s the position that your using or the foods that you’re consuming.
Most moms are anxious to lose the weight gained during pregnancy and this is understandable – you want to get back into your old jeans as quickly as possible! It’s advisable that you don’t follow a ‘diet’ for the first few weeks and this makes sense anyway – why put yourself under the added stress when you have enough on your plate? Watching what you eat however is something that you can do right from the start.
Let me explain the difference; normally diets involve restricting calorific intake or removing certain food types from your diet. This isn’t advisable when breastfeeding as your body is producing food for your baby and needs a well-balanced diet. Losing weight too quickly may mean that your milk supply dries up and your baby won’t get the amount of milk he or she needs. Typically you can lose 1-2 pounds a week without any effect on your milk – again people are different but this is a good guideline. The great news is that breastfeeding actually helps you lose weight anyway!
You should eat a balanced diet that incorporates carbohydrates proteins and the vitamins and minerals you require. You should try and eat plenty of fruit and veg as well as whole grains and cereals and foods that contain calcium and iron. This will help you produce great milk and should help you lose weight as you’re eating healthy foods. If you’re desperate to lose weight then still eat a balanced range of foods just try not to eat ’empty’ calories.
It is recommended that you don’t eat swordfish or consume large amounts of tuna as these can be contaminated with mercury. Alcohol should be limited to 1 or 2 drinks a day and should be consumed just after a feed. Water is hugely important and you should consume at least 8 glasses a day. Always having a glass of water nearby to sip from is a recommended tip – constantly sipping should prevent dehydration and it will also do wonders for your skin! If you can avoid caffeine drinks and if you can’t limit their intake.
There are some foods that may cause colic – broccoli, brussels sprouts and cows milk. Strongly flavoured food such as curry may change the way that your milk tastes and may put your baby off your milk or make them irritable.
As I said at the start there aren’t any hard or fast rules – just general guidelines that you may find useful. You may be able to eat the hottest curry without any problems or you may find your baby protests at the mildest of spices or a single cup of coffee.
The thing I would urge you to bear in mind is that breastfeeding really is the best thing that you can do for your child – helping them in so many ways and for so many reasons. Sure there’s going to be times when you’re pulling your hair out or are so tired that you can hardly open your eyes but the benefits are so huge I urge you to stick with it as long as you possibly can. Over time it will become easier, you’ll both get to know each other and will settle into the routines that you’ve created. You’ll then be able to enjoy the magical experiences of introducing our baby to the wonders of the world around them.