What will help me feel less tired while I am breast feeding?
Never skip meals. In fact, you will probably also need snacks in between meals. Try to eat well by including a variety of nutritious foods from each of the four major food groups each day, that is:
- Vegetables and fruit
- Breads and cereals
- Lean meats, chicken, seafood, eggs and alternatives – dried beans, peas and lentils
- Milk and milk products.
Healthy, convenient snack foods include fresh or dried fruit, breakfast cereal, muesli bars, yoghurt, banana smoothies, cheese and crackers, or sandwiches containing protein such as meat, cheese or egg.
To make sure that you are getting the right nutrition in what can be a hectic time, plan your meals ahead so that you have all the ingredients on hand. Try cooking up a larger amount of food and freezing meal-sized portions, for those times when you cannot face cooking something from scratch.
Take the opportunity to rest when baby is sleeping. Staying refreshed and keeping your energy levels up is more important than any household task.
How can I increase my milk supply?
Milk volume increases to meet your baby’s demand. Therefore, baby’s sucking is the best way to boost milk supply. Increase the number of feeds you give, especially in the early evening. You can maintain a healthy milk supply by eating well and ensuring your diet contains a wide variety of health-giving foods, such as fruit and vegetables, breads and cereals, dairy products and lean meat and alternatives. Drink plenty of fluids and rest as much as you can, as this helps to increase the blood supply to the breast area.
Do I need to drink more fluid than usual while I’m breast feeding?
Yes, you will naturally be more thirsty when breast feeding – use your thirst as a guide. Drink at least ten glasses of fluid a day. Water is best, otherwise milk or diluted fruit juice. Limit tea, coffee and cola drinks to no more than 2-3 per day. Caffeine is transferred into breast milk and can lead to baby being irritable and sleeping poorly.
Caffeine and guarana, which acts like caffeine, are commonly added to energy or ‘smart’ drinks. Many of these drinks also contain amino acids such as tyrosine and taurine, and B vitamins at higher levels than recommended for breastfeeding women.
Purchase herbal teas from reputable sources and select ones made from ingredients that are a common part of your diet, such as mint, blackcurrant or orange extract.
How should I store breast milk?
If you are expressing milk, you can keep it in a covered, sterile container in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. The container used should not be clear or see-through as some vitamins are sensitive to light. To reheat breast milk, place the container in hot water – do not boil. Breast milk can also be frozen and is a good way to ensure you have extra milk available when needed. Fill the container to ¾ full, as the milk will expand on freezing. It can be kept in a deep freezer for 3-4 months but unfortunately the anti-infective properties of breast milk are destroyed by freezing. To thaw, place the container of breast milk in the refrigerator or under cold running water. Once thawed, use promptly. Do not refreeze.
What can I do to help with constipation?
Drink plenty of fluid every day. Include high-fibre foods such as wholemeal breads and cereals, fruit and vegetables, nuts or seeds. Gentle exercise, such as walking, can often help the problem.
What medication is safe to take while I’m breast feeding?
Most drugs, including vitamin and mineral supplements, pass into your breast milk. Before taking any medication or supplement, consult your doctor or pharmacist.
What can I do to return to my pre-pregnancy weight?
Every woman is different. Breastfeeding can help the body to return to its normal weight, but weight loss varies from woman to woman. Rapid weight loss is not recommended as it may prevent your baby receiving the best nutrition.
Your appetite will increase while you are breast feeding as your body’s energy needs increase. Eat to satisfy your appetite but don’t eat for two. Eat regular, nutritious meals containing foods from the four food groups, preferably low in fat. Gentle exercise, such as walking or yoga, will also help with weight loss.
Can I drink and smoke while I’m breastfeeding?
Alcohol passes quickly into your breast milk, and can affect baby. It should be avoided, especially in the first month of breast feeding.
Smoking can reduce the amount of milk you make. Smoking near a baby can cause respiratory problems and may be associated with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Could some foods I eat cause colic and excessive wind in my baby?
The exact causes of colic are unknown. Consider all possible causes for your baby’s unsettled behaviour before making changes to or restricting your usual varied diet. Some foods which may cause wind problems in baby include onions, garlic, cabbage, cauliflower and brussel sprouts, spicy foods, chocolate and fizzy drinks. Check with your health professional to rule out other reasons for excessive crying.