Although it’s not necessary to follow a specific diet when breastfeeding, it will be beneficial for both you and your baby to include these foods in your diet.
Registered dietician Lila Bruk shared this handy advice on foods to include in your diet when breastfeeding at a recent NUK Pregnancy Cooking class at the Good Food Studio at a NUK pregnancy cooking class held in Sandton, Johannesburg:
These are high in omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for your baby’s brain development. Choose pilchards, yellowtail, snoek, trout and anchovies, which are high in omega-3s while being low in mercury.
Drinking enough fluids is essential during breastfeeding. This will ensure you keep yourself hydrated while also encompassing the increased fluid your body needs to produce breast milk.
Eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables
Eating these kinds of foods will get your baby used to these tastes and make him or her more receptive to eating these kinds of foods when he or she is a bit older.
Your calcium needs increase during breastfeeding. Therefore, make sure you have about 3 servings of dairy daily. One serving is 1 glass of milk, 30g of cheese, or a small tub of yoghurt. If you don’t drink milk, take a calcium supplement and try to eat other sources of calcium such as tofu and fish with edible bones (for example, kippers, pilchards and anchovies).
Your iron stores may also be sapped by the need to maintain the iron levels in your breastmilk. As a result, try to choose lean beef which is an excellent source of iron and vitamin B12 while also being lower in saturated fat than less lean cuts. If you are vegetarian, you will get some iron from egg yolks. If you are vegan, you will most likely need an iron supplement as it is very difficult to fulfil your iron needs during lactation solely through plant sources.
Your vitamin C needs increase during lactation, but some feel that if they eat lots of citrus fruits their babies are fussier as a result. If this is the case, choose other vitamin C-rich foods such as guavas, peppers and tomatoes.
More about the expert:
Lila Bruk is a registered dietician and nutritional consultant based in Illovo and Morningside, Johannesburg and has been in private practice since 2006. She graduated from UCT with a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology and Biochemistry in 2002, followed by a Bachelor of Science Medical (Honours) degree in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2004 also from UCT. In 2010 she completed a Masters in Nutritional Sciences through the University of Stellenbosch in the fields of body image in pre-adolescent girls, digestive disorders (e.g. IBS), sports nutrition and food allergies. Learn more about Lila Bruk here.
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