In light of Breast Feeding Awareness Week this week we are sharing our top tips for supporting breast feeding through your diet. Breast feeding can be extremely nutritionally demanding and therefore supporting your requirements in the best way you will help to optimise how you feel and help to maintain energy. We must add that breast feeding can be an emotional journey and not one which is applicable or suitable to every new mum, that’s perfectly ok. These nutrition tips are not only key to support breast feeding but to support the energy demands which are required with a newborn!
Pregnancy can be challenging enough and therefore by the time you reach breastfeeding there can be a temptation to slip into a pre-pregnancy or just pure convenience diet. Fear not, we’re not going to be suggesting that you start cooking everything from scratch! Few of us have time for that let alone when you have a newborn!
If you are breast feeding it’s important to be aware that your nutrients you consume in your diet contribute to the make up of your breast milk and therefore eating a nutrient dense diet where you can is important.
As always with our advice, take one step at a time. If it all feels a little overwhelming then focus on one tip, nail it and then move on to the others.
- Ensure adequate consumption of Vitamin B12
This nutrient is essential in supporting the neonate’s brain development. If you’re on a plant-based diet you may wish to discuss supplementing with vitamin B12 with your healthcare provider. Obtaining adequate amounts of B12 on a plant based diet can be challenging as dietary sources include: meat, fish, eggs, dairy and some fortified plant foods such as fortified cereals, spreads and milk alternatives.
- Be aware of choline consumption
Choline is also required for the neonate’s brain and memory development. Your dietary intake can contribute to choline levels in breast milk so consuming a range of eggs, soya beans, mushrooms and dairy is important to obtain adequate levels. Try starting the day with scrambled eggs on wholemeal or rye toast. Alternatively, you can always boil some eggs and leave them in the fridge for whenever you get a chance to snack.
This is another nutrient which is essential for the baby’s brain development, however it also plays an important role in their visual development too. Try including two portions of oily fish a week. If you’re a vegetarian/ vegan ensure you’re consuming a range of nuts, seeds and omega-3 enriched eggs for vegetarians. Try our Loch Duart Salmon with Harissa as a delicious way to increase your omega-3!
This is yet another crucial nutrient for supporting neurodevelopment and metabolic development in the baby. Low levels of iodine have been associated with impaired cognitive development and therefore it is important to ensure adequate consumption. Opt for white fish, dairy products, seaweed, seafood and eggs to ensure adequate status. For more information on iodine check out our blog!
Whilst as a parent of a new born you’re likely to feel tired, do try to moderate your caffeine intake as it can pass into the breast milk and may impair your baby’s ability to sleep. Try limiting your intake to no more than 200mg per day (that’s about 2 mugs of instant coffee).
- Ensure adequate protein
In order to maintain energy for supporting breastfeeding and the demands of a newborn ensure you’re consuming adequate amounts of protein (aim for 1-1.2g of protein per kg body weight). Protein rich sources include; beans, pulses, nuts, seeds, fish, eggs, dairy and meats.
- Eat regularly
We know it can be challenging to find time to do anything when you have a new born but eating regularly is an important way to maintain your energy levels. Try to have healthy, nutrient dense snacks on hand so you can easily refuel. Remember we are here to provide nutrient dense meals which can be kept in your freezer so that you’re never caught short!
There you have our top tips for supporting breast feeding and the energy demands of being a parent to a new born. Remember, it’s normal to find it tough so be kind to yourself, take the pressure off and take each day as it comes!