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Breastfeeding Facts and Advice for New Moms

Research shows that breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for babies and it has lots of health benefits for moms too. To help optimise milk production, focus on achieving a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle. The best diet is one that is a mix of high fibre carbohydrates, lean proteins, low fat dairy, some healthy fats and lots of fresh vegetables and fruits. When breastfeeding it is essential to maintain energy levels by eating well, keeping well hydrated and optimising sleep. A good habit to get into is having a large glass of water every time your baby feeds and to try and get some shut-eye every time your baby sleeps too.

Did you know?

  • It takes an extra 400-600 calories a day to produce the breast milk. Extreme restrictions to your calorie intake will interfere with milk production. So make sure you are eating enough nutritious calories everyday… ignore the pressures of losing weight quickly after giving birth
  • Your body will produce milk that is rich in calcium for your baby. However, to ensure this is not at the expense of your bone and teeth health, aim for at least 3 rich sources of calcium rich foods daily. For example milk, yoghurt, cheese, tofu and tinned oily fish
  • Infants have limited capability to make essential fats that they need for development. They therefore need to get these fats from the milk that they drink. Include omega-3 fatty acids such as oily fish, walnuts, and linseeds in your diet regularly to enrich your breast milk. Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for the infant’s brain development and may also help with hand-eye coordination, psychomotor development and visual acuity
  • Lack of energy is common when you have a baby and can often be caused by lack of iron so it’s important to focus on getting some iron rich sources in your diet regularly such as red meat, dark green vegetables and dried fruits. This will not only boost energy but will aid the healthy production of milk. Anaemia can be prevented by adequate folic acid and Vitamin B12 intake too so aim to get some leafy green vegetables, citrus fruit and legumes as well as meat, eggs and dairy in your diet often too
  • Vitamin D intake is important too for both mother and child to help develop and maintain bone mass. Oily fish, eggs and fortified foods are good dietary sources along with sunshine during the summer months. The FSAI recommend that all newborn babies be given a vitamin D supplement daily
  • A varied balanced diet can provide you with all the nutrients that you require while breastfeeding. If you feel you are not getting all the nutrition you need for both you and your baby you may need to consider taking a multivitamin that is tailored to breast feeing. Check with your doctor, midwife or dietitian

Top tips

Breastfeeding may be natural, but that doesn’t mean that it comes naturally to everyone! Make sure to vent your stresses and talk through all your options with your support system. Ask for help in preparing your next meal or snack. Knowing your lunch is waiting for you in a lunch box in the fridge can really take the pressure off. Getting family, friends or your partner to freeze left-overs that can be reheated in the first few more tiresome weeks, or on the tough days, can be a saving grace!

Ask for help around the house. This may involve guidance. Why not make a list and keep it on the fridge which is marked off every time a job is completed? This way everyone knows what needs to be done and what they can do to help without having to ask. Allow your partner to be the gatekeeper. Sometimes you just need a little more time by yourself, without having to answer a million questions from well-meaning friends and family.

Finally exercise can help improve energy levels and to work off the extra weight gained during pregnancy. However, make sure to drink plenty of water and remember to build up gradually, you will not automatically go back to your pre-pregnancy fitness levels so take it easy and be kind to yourself!

This article is sponsored by Pregnacare


About the Author

Editor of eumom.ie, Mairéad Cahalan is a creator of content, a lover of music, red wine and coffee, and a part-time wedding singer! Find her on Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud and LinkedIn.

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