Useful information on the importance of eating a healthy balanced diet filled with nutrients and vitamins whilst you are breastfeeding.
When you are breastfeeding your diet is equally as important as whilst you were pregnant as you are still the primary source for your babies nourishment. As a new Mum you will also need plenty of energy to cope with the demands of looking after a newborn. For this reason you should try and keep up the healthy eating practices you took up during pregnancy.
Although new Mum's can feel a huge amount of pressure to regain their pre-pregnancy figures quickly after their baby is born it is recommended that you shouldn't embark on a diet or exercise regieme until at least 6 weeks after the birth and then only after consulting your healthcare professional.
Breastfeeding alone burns approximately 500 calories a day which is why Mums that breastfeed loose their baby weight at a naturally faster rate. If you do want to lose weight you should focus on consuming between 2000 and 2200 calories each day from healthful foods and combine this with gentle exercise such as walking, swimming, yoga or pilates.
As an evolutionary mechanism, it is your body rather than your milk supply that will suffer if you aren't taking on enough of the right foods. This is because the beneficial elements of the foods you eat are passed on to your baby through your breast milk and only the surplus is used to nourish your body. For this reason the quality of your milk is likely to remain constant regardless of your diet (with the exception of extreme nutritional deprivation), however the quantity is likely to be affected. Having said that every baby needs a healthy Mum with plenty of energy to care for them so a well balanced diet is vital.
Elements of the food and drink you consume are passed on to your baby through your breastmilk - this includes alcohol and nicotein from cigarettes. If you do continue smoking (although this is strongly discouraged) you should wait at least an hour between having a cigarrette and feeding your baby to allow some of the hemicals to disperse. Additionally, as alcohol passes into your milk supply in less than an hour you should wait until after a feed before having an alcoholic drink.
Although it is not believed that caffine has any long term adverse effects on babies when taken in moderation, if you notice that your baby becomes aggitated or finds it difficult to settle when you have been drinking caffinated drinks you may choose to avoid them or switch to a decaffinated alternative. You should always drink plenty of water when breastfeeding to ensure that you are sufficiently hydrated to be able to produce milk. You should try and drink approximately 2 litres or between 8 and 10 glasses a day.
You should try and eat 5 varied portions of fruit and vegetables a day, plenty of complex carbohydrates (such as brown rice and pasta, wholemeal bread and potatoes) and lean protein. As breast milk contains high levels of calcium it is essential that you eat plenty of dairy products, raw vegetables and nuts so that you don't become deficcient.
If you were taking any vitamin supplements during pregnancy it is generally recommended that you continue with these whilst you breastfeed although you should always check with your healthcare professional.
Although the majority of babies do not have a food sensitivity, some babies become irritated when their mother consumes certain foods. Unless you notice that your baby regularly has a reaction each time you have consumed a certain food (withing 2 to 4 hours) there is no need to assume that their digestive system will not tolerate it. However, if you do believe that certain foods bring about a reaction in your baby, it is important that you check with your GP before eliminating any food group from your diet.
By eating a well balanced diet comprising healthful foods with the occassional treat you should be able to provide a healthy, nourishing milk supply for your baby.
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