NOURISH YOURSELF & BABY
Breastfeeding is hungry work! If you make good food choices now you can maintain a healthy supply of breastmilk for your baby and give your own health a boost too
YOU HAVE BEEN BLESSED with breasts that know exactly how to make the perfect milk for your baby. You don’t have to issue any instructions on the ratio of carbs to protein to fat! Through a complicated process involving hormones, enzymes and more than 200 ingredients, your inhouse factory produces exactly what your baby needs, while you sit back and relax.
What you do need to keep in mind, though, is that everything you put in your mouth ends up in your milk in one way or another, whether we are talking about alcohol, medication, caffeine or even the flavour of the cheese you eat or the chocolate you indulge in.
Registered dietician Zelda Ackerman says the amount of protein and carbohydrate in your breastmilk stays pretty constant, regardless of what you eat. “However, the amount of selenium, iodine and water-soluble vitamin C and B complex, as well as fat, will depend on what is in your diet.
“For your baby’s sake, don’t just eat any old thing. It is worth keeping nutrition in mind.”
“Forget about those long lists of foods you are not allowed to eat. Toss the list and shift your focus to eating healthy food during your mealtimes and snack times.
“Just a few minutes of planning ahead can make a difference,” says Zelda.
START THE DAY RIGHT
The hospital breakfast was likely the last decent breakfast you had. Between breastfeeding, expressing, changing nappies and doing washing there is not much time for a leisurely breakfast.
Try not to grab a sweet shortcut when you feel the need for an energy boost. Ideally, you should take some time to sit down to a bowl of wholegrain breakfast food, combined with low fat milk and fruit. Try to eat within the first hour of waking up. If you really need a shortcut, use up the last of your preggie shakes. Otherwise have a glass of milk, a pear or banana and a wholewheat biscuit.
No need to complicate things. Make a great sandwich. Use low GI wholegrain bread or seed loaf and a spread that is enriched with Omega 3 fatty acids. The filling will depend on how much time you have. Peanut butter, salmon spread or avo are good quick options. Add a fruit at the end.
If you have more time, you can make delicious combinations of lettuce, tomato, cucumber with cottage cheese, cheese, tuna, chicken or egg.
SUPPER A balanced, healthy supper does not mean hours in front of the stove. On the days when your baby just doesn’t leave you with free hands to cook, you can make something speedy like couscous with tuna and mixed vegetables, basmati rice with a chicken breast and mixed salad, or a portion of fish with a baked potato and beetroot salad.
If your baby allows for more time while you cook, you can make more time-consuming dishes, or cook extra vegetables or a salad. Try a jacket potato hollowed out and mixed with mince, and a green bean and carrot salad, or pasta with chicken and mushrooms, broccoli and pumpkin, or hake with sweet potato, patty pans and peas.
To end the meal on a sweet note, pull the fruit basket closer again. If you have time for it, make fruit salad, otherwise just have another fruit. In this way you get a sweet kick, but also lots of extra vitamins, minerals and fibre.
If you are leaving the house for a clinic visit or baby class, always take some fruit along. Also keep some dry fruit or unsalted nuts in your handbag in case you’re overcome by a snack attack.
If you’re home, snack time can be deliciously simple if you make a smoothie with plain yoghurt and fruit.
THIRSTY ALL THE TIME?
Your breastfeeding factory runs on liquids. Have you noticed how thirsty you are all the time, and that you drink a lot without having to run to the bathroom all the time?
While lactating you need a whopping 3-4l of fluid a day, but let your thirst guide you. Take a water bottle with you wherever you go. Plain water is the best choice, or rooibos tea with no sugar.
Also make sure you drink up to three glasses of milk a day to keep your calcium levels up.
Rather limit the extra energy you would get from fruit juice and other cooldrinks.
Don’t worry too much if you have a raging hunger at three in the morning while nursing your baby. This is quite normal, especially in the early days. A healthy snack before bed could help.