Following on from our blog last week, where we talked about what to offer your pregnant friends to eat, a few people asked me if the same rules apply to breastfeeding too.
Luckily, the rules around what you can and can't eat when you are breastfeeding are a bit more relaxed than in pregnancy. But there are still a couple of do's and don'ts that I'll list below. I've also gathered some great tips and ideas from mummy friends about what worked for them when they were breastfeeding themselves.
First, some good news. If you are exclusively breastfeeding, you need to consume about 300 - 500 calories per day more than usual. Unfortunately, the same does not apply to us 'friends of breastfeeders'.
Most people believe that you need to drink much more to stay hydrated and produce milk when breastfeeding too. Anecdotally, friends tell me they were always extremely thirsty, particularly during feeds. However, a little research into the Association of Breastfeeding Mums tells me this is not actually true.
“It's a myth that you need to drink more fluid when you are breastfeeding... In fact, studies suggest that drinking purposefully beyond your basic needs could even slightly reduce the quality of your milk.”
It's likely that new mums might forget to drink enough fluids throughout the day, though, and only notice their thirst when they sit and feed their baby.
Tip: Offering a cup of tea or glass of water or juice when you visit might be a helpful prompt for new mums
A normal varied diet is perfectly sensible for most breastfeeding mums. While certain foods can change the taste of the milk, if a mum has eaten those foods during pregnancy it should be fine to keep eating them when breastfeeding.
Anecdotally, my friends had some tips for the best foods that worked for them when breastfeeding especially to help boost milk production:
"Porridge for breakfast was my saviour. I was told it would help with milk production, and apart from that it gave me energy to face the day!"
"Eating lots of colourful vegetables just ensures that you are giving baby all the vitamins he/she needs"
"My mum told me to eat these spices as they help to calm the baby and are good for milk production"
Tip: offer your friend some fennel or fenugreek tea - hydration and milk production rolled into one!
The only foods it is really recommended breastfeeding mums limit are:
So the list of don'ts seems pretty simple, right?
Having said that, there are times when babies will just not react well when their mums eat certain foods.
"Even a sip of wine hours before a feed and my baby let me know she wasn't happy!"
"My friends told me they struggled with this... Luckily I ate spices all the way through pregnancy so I think he [my baby] was used to it already"
"Acidic fruits made my baby very gassy, while my Filipino friend told me pineapple was too prickly for him!!"
"Gassy foods, gassy baby"
Tip: If in doubt, steer clear of making anything too strongly flavoured for your breastfeeding friend!
If it is identified that a baby is allergic to a certain food group, then the mother usually has to avoid that food themselves while they are breastfeeding.
The most common food allergies include, dairy, egg, wheat or peanut. Luckily, there are lots of alternatives to choose from.
That's basically it! If you want to support your breastfeeding friend, an extra slice of cake, regular cups of (caffeine-free) tea and offering to hold / burp / change the baby will always go down well.
If you have a friend who is pregnant or just had a baby, take a look at our baby boxes here (there's also a great gift to help older siblings feel included too!).
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