If you have chosen to breastfeed your baby, this will have huge benefits for you both.
As well as helping protect your baby from infections while they’re small, it will also reduce their chance of developing conditions such as type 2 diabetes and obesity later in life.
Benefits for mum and baby
It’s also great for you too. Breastfeeding reduces your chances of developing certain cancers in later life, it’s free and it’s a lovely, natural way to burn energy when fully established – so it can be great to help towards losing any excess baby weight.
While you’re breastfeeding
Producing milk for breastfeeding takes up a lot of energy, so it’s recommended that mums consume a healthy, balanced diet to supply all the extra nutrients needed. Most mums will feel hungrier due to the energy being used. Opting for healthier foods will help to prevent weight gain.
If you’re breastfeeding, you will need more calcium (an extra 550mg a day, taking a woman’s requirements to 1250mg per day), so include some calcium-rich foods each day. Here are some examples along with the amount of calcium they provide:
|300ml skimmed milk||375mg|
|300ml semi-skimmed milk||365mg|
|300ml whole milk||360mg|
|300ml goat’s milk||350mg|
|300ml sweetened calcium-enriched soya milk||350mg|
|30g reduced-fat Cheddar||290mg|
|300ml unsweetened calcium-enriched soya milk||360mg|
|100g fat-free natural/flavoured yogurt||160mg|
|100g fat-free natural/flavoured fromage frais||130mg|
|100g low-fat/virtually fat-free cottage cheese||130mg|
|100g sardines, canned in tomato sauce||430mg|
|100g pilchards, canned in tomato sauce||250mg|
|100g purple sprouting broccoli||200mg|
|100g curly kale||130mg|
Dietary sources of vitamin D include dairy foods, eggs, margarine, liver and oily fish, and of course sunshine is a great vitamin D provider. Your intake of vitamin D is important to ensure your baby gets enough of it through your milk.
As sunlight is the main source of vitamin D and there are few dietary sources, all adults and children over five years old, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, are advised to consider taking a 10 microgram vitamin D supplement daily. For more information on vitamin D visit the NHS website.