Breastfeeding babies until they are at least 12 months old has been recommended by the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA). During those important months, the nutrition received by the baby depends on the nutrition being taken in by the mother. Mums are also tired at this time with lots to do, so it is important that they look after themselves too.
Breastfeeding Nutrition Basics
The Australian Department of Health and Ageing has established recommendations for breastfeeding women. By following these recommendations, women can be sure they are getting the vitamins and minerals their body and their baby’s body needs for good health.
Here is a breakdown of the recommendations:
- 5 to 7 servings per day from the bread group (this group also includes cereal, pasta and rice)
- 7 servings per day from the vegetable group (this group also includes legumes)
- 5 servings per day from the fruit group
- 2 servings per day from the milk group
- 2 servings per day from the meat group
Serving size is critical in these recommendations. Some examples of serving sizes for each of the food groups are below:
- 2 slices of bread or 1 cup cooked pasta or rice
- ½ cup cooked vegetables or beans
- ½ cup fruit juice or 1 medium apple
- 2 slices of cheese or 250 ml of milk
- 2 small eggs or 65 to 100 grams cooked chicken or meat
A concern for many women is trying to lose the ‘baby weight’. Breastfeeding can help a new mum return to her pre-pregnancy weight however, it’s important not to restrict food intake too much. Breastfeeding mothers need extra energy to produce breast milk and it’s important to get this extra energy from a variety of healthy foods in order to make nutritious breast milk for baby and keep the new mother healthy. For example, breastfeeding women should not skip meals or cut out snacks. Instead, they should follow the above recommendations, eat smaller meals and snacks, and incorporate healthy practices such as trimming the fat off meat before cooking and limiting foods high in fat and sugar.
Other Nutrition Advice for Breastfeeding Women
Breast milk contains a lot of fluid which comes directly from a your body. If the fluids are not replaced, you can become dehydrated. It’s a good idea that women drink a glass of water or milk following each breastfeeding session to restore those lost fluids.
While on the subject of hydration, breastfeeding women should also avoid caffeinated beverages. Because that caffeine can get into the breast milk and be passed onto the baby, women may want to reduce their consumption of coffee, tea and caffeinated sodas during this time. Of course, alcoholic beverages should also be avoided or limited to a single drink per day because the alcohol can also be passed onto the baby.
- American Dietetic Association
- Dietitians Association of Australia
- Queensland Health-Breastfeeding
- Department of Health and Ageing-Breastfeeding Women
- Better Health Channel-Breastfeeding and Your Diet