Healthy diet, exercise and lifestyle for breastfeeding Mother
Your body needs extra nutrients when breastfeeding, ideally from a wide variety of foods from the five food groups.
If you’re breastfeeding, it’s best not to drink alcohol, smoke or use drugs. Try to limit caffeine and ‘sometimes’ foods.
It’s good to exercise regularly after you’ve recovered from the birth.
Breastfeeding diet: what your body needs
Calcium is very important for your baby’s bone development and makes up an important part of breastmilk.
Iodine keeps your baby’s brain and nervous system developing. Your baby depends on your breastmilk as a source of iodine.
- Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is very important for your baby’s developing nervous system. Your baby gets vitamin B12 from your breastmilk.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps your baby absorb calcium, which baby needs for bone growth and development. Your baby gets vitamin D from your breastmilk. Your baby’s body also makes vitamin D when there’s direct sunlight on baby’s skin.
Your body needs more water when you’re breastfeeding. You should aim to have around 10 cups of fluids a day. But you might need more on hot or humid days or if you’re very active.
- Water is the cheapest and healthiest drink. Avoid soft drinks, fruit juices, flavoured milk, flavoured water, sports drinks and energy drinks.
Exercise and Breastfeeding
It’s important to let your body recover after birth, but when you’re ready, some regular exercise will boost your health and wellbeing.
Being active every day:
- strengthens your bones, muscles and joints
- reduces your risk of heart disease, cancer and type-2 diabetes
- controls your weight
- improves your sleep
- reduces your stress levels
- improves your mental wellbeing.
You can begin with gentle exercise like taking short walks, and then try activities like swimming, yoga or Pilates.
Lifestyle and Breastfeeding
What you eat, drink or smoke can pass through your breastmilk to your baby and affect your baby’s health and development.
Keep some foods to a minimum. foods that are high in salt, saturated fat and sugar, and low in fibre and nutrients.
- Alcohol, smoking, medication and breastfeeding
If you’re breastfeeding, it’s best not to drink alcohol, smoke or use drugs, including marijuana.
But if you plan to drink alcohol, it’s best to limit the amount to one drink. And wait 2-3 hours (per drink) before breastfeeding again.
Even if you smoke, breastfeeding is the best option for your baby. You can protect your baby by always smoking outside, and not smoking for an hour before feeding.
Caffeine transfers into breastmilk, so avoid drinking large amounts of caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee. Newborns are especially sensitive to caffeine.
A moderate amount of caffeine is usually fine – about two cups of coffee or four cups of tea a day. You could also try things like non-caffeinated and herbal teas or decaffeinated coffee instead.
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