Now you have a new baby, what should you and your baby eat?

It is very important to maintain a healthy diet when you are a new mother. It is hard work caring for a new baby and a healthy diet will help give you the energy that you need. Knowing the right things to eat will also help you make healthy choices for your baby when it is time to wean them.

Remember to include:

  • At least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
  • Protein-rich foods such as lean meat and chicken, fish, eggs and pulses.
  • Fish twice a week, including some oily fish.
  • Milk and dairy products such as yoghurt and cheese.
  • Plenty of starchy foods such as bread, cereals, rice, pasta and potatoes. Choose whole grain options when possible.

You can now eat the foods that you were advised to avoid during pregnancy such as paté and some types of cheese.

If you are breastfeeding, here are some tips to keep you and your baby well1.

  1. Don’t try to lose weight. Breastfeeding uses up the fat stored during pregnancy, so it will help you lose weight and get your shape back naturally. Eating a healthy diet and being physically active will help too. Your healthcare provider can advise on postnatal exercises.
  2. Your appetite will increase as you need extra calories to meet the demands of breastfeeding.
  3. Make sure you eat regularly. Try having smaller meals and snacks throughout the day rather than three main meals.
  4. You are likely to feel very thirsty while you are breastfeeding. It’s a good idea to have a drink close by during a breastfeed. Try water, milk or fruit juice rather than tea or coffee. Avoid alcohol, especially before a feeding.
  5. You should continue to take a supplement containing vitamin D 10 mcg per day.
  6. Major brain and visual development and growth occurs in the first two years of life. Make sure your diet includes adequate levels of essential fatty acids, especially DHA omega-3 (docosahexaenoic acid). In fact, experts recommend that pregnant and nursing women should consume 100-200mg of DHA daily in addition to the 250 mg recommended omega-3 intake for adults. The best dietary source is oily fish, but foods fortified with DHA and DHA supplements are good too. If you stop breastfeeding your baby before your baby is one year old, choose weaning foods and follow-on formulae that will contain an adequate supply of  DHA omega-3.

Breast milk is the ideal form of nutrition for newborns, but for mothers who are unable to breastfeed or prefer not to, there are a range of formulas available which act as a suitable alternative and satisfy the nutritional requirements of your baby.

If you are bottle-feeding, here is some information to help you get it right.

  1. When you bottle-feed your baby, you should ensure they have lots of skin contact so they can experience the same physical closeness that breastfed babies do. A good tip is to talk or sing to your baby while feeding, to strengthen the bond.
  2. There are two main types of infant milk; each has different ratios of two milk proteins: whey and casein. Those that are suitable for babies from birth contain more whey. The ratio of whey to casein in these milks is similar to breast milk, which makes it easier for babies to digest.
  3. If your baby does not seem content with the formula they are on, talk to your health visitor or GP.

 

1 University of Oxford Clinical School, Information Management Services Unit. (2001) Healthy post-natal care. Bandolier Extra. December 2001.

2 Simopoulos, AP. et al. (1999) Workshop on the essentiality of and recommended dietary intakes for omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 18(5): 487-489.

3 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (1994) Fats and oils in human nutrition: report of a joint expert consultation. Available at: http://www.fao.org/docrep/V4700E/V4700E00.htm

4 Koletzko, B. et al. (2001) Longchain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA) and perinatal development. Acta Paediatrica. 90(4): 460-464.

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