What to eat when breastfeeding

It’s important to eat well when you’re breastfeeding, because the nutrients you consume are transmitted to your baby through the breast milk.

Should I eat more?

Yes, but not much more. A woman who is breastfeeding requires approximately 300 to 400 calories more per day. That’s the equivalent of two snacks, such as a slice of whole-grain bread with peanut butter in the morning, and an apple and yogurt in the afternoon.

Most importantly: Eat well!

A varied and balanced diet will result in equally varied and balanced breast milk.

Opt for quality protein sources (lean meats, legumes, fish and seafood), whole-grain bread products, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

You can choose organic products, or otherwise wash your fruits and vegetables to reduce exposure to pesticide residue.

When it comes to fish and seafood, avoid species that may contain higher levels of contaminants such as mercury. These include fresh and frozen tuna, shark, swordfish, marlin, orange roughy and escolar.

Should I drink more fluids when breastfeeding?

It’s important to be well hydrated. Drink water regularly and don’t wait to feel thirsty.

Be careful with soft drinks and fruit juices (even those with no sugar added). Fruit juice is an underestimated source of calories and can hinder your efforts to lose the weight gained during pregnancy.

The colour of your urine is a good indicator of your hydration level. Someone who is well hydrated has pale yellow urine, except the first urine of the morning, which is usually more concentrated.

Can I drink caffeine? What about alcohol?

Caffeine is a stimulant. If you drink a lot of coffee (or soft drinks that contain caffeine), your baby could feel the effects as well. It is recommended that breastfeeding women not consume more than two cups of coffee per day.

Any alcohol you consume enters your breast milk. There’s no level of alcohol in breast milk that's considered safe for a baby. It’s best to avoid alcohol completely. If you do decide to have a small drink, it is recommended that you do so right after breastfeeding, so that your body has time to eliminate the alcohol completely before the next feeding (it typically takes 2 to 3 hours for a standard drink).

How do I know if my baby is allergic or intolerant to something I’ve eaten?

If your baby becomes very irritable, has diarrhea, becomes congested or develops a rash soon after a feeding, it may be a sign of an allergy or intolerance to something you ate. It’s best to consult a physician who can assess the situation and make recommendations for identifying the food that caused the reaction.

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