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What should I eat when I am breastfeeding?

I am tempted to "eat for two", avoid cabbage and drink lots of milk. Am I on the right track or have I got it completely wrong? I need advice in order to distinguish between old wives' tales and real nutritional recommendations.

3 mins
to read Apr 1, 2021

When you breastfeed, you will almost certainly at some point be told "avoid onions and garlic at all cost as they will give your milk a bad taste", or, even worse, "drink beer, it'll help you produce more milk". None of these statements makes any sense; not only does the production of breast milk depend above all on your baby's suction ability, but also the food you eat flavours your milk and therefore contributes to the development of your baby's sense of taste!

You don't, therefore, need to be an expert in nutrition in order to eat properly while you are breastfeeding. Just use common sense. In practical terms, eat a variety of fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, carbohydrates and dairy products, not forgetting your daily ration of lipids. Avoid alcohol. These are the key points to remember.

 

Balanced means varied!

There's no need to double the size of your meals just because you are breastfeeding! Eat enough to satisfy your hunger and for pleasure, without paying too much attention to your weight. The energy you use up breastfeeding will gradually help you get back to your normal size, without dieting. Just make sure you eat plenty of the following, in sufficient quantities:

  • Vegetables and fruit with each meal for their vitamins, minerals and fibre, essential for your muscle tone.
  • Carbohydrates in the form of pasta, rice, wholemeal bread, pulses or cereals, for their slow-burning energy. To be eaten with each meal in small quantities.
  • Protein, 2 portions/day of meat, fish or eggs.
  • 3 or 4 portions/day of cheese, milk, yoghurt or fromage blanc for calcium, good for your bones and also those of your baby.
  • Fats, from a variety of different sources (butter, olive oil, colza oil, nut oil, etc.) for the Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids they provide and which are essential for the neurological development of your baby.
  • Also eat a few dried fruits (such as figs), almonds or nuts for the magnesium they provide.
  • Finally, don't forget to drink plenty of liquid, at least 1.5 litres per day.

 

Also remember: opt for seasonal foods, full of nutrients, where possible.
Try to eat a light mid-afternoon snack in order to avoid early-evening munching on crisps or bread. This should ideally take the form of a dairy product for calcium, a cereal product for slow-burning energy, some fruit for fibre and vitamins and a drink for hydration!
 

Here are a few ideas:

  • 1 cereal bar + 1 pot of fruit puree + 1 natural yoghurt + 1 fruit or herbal infusion
  • 2 slices of wholemeal bread + 1 portion of cheese + 1 orange + 1 cup of decaffeinated coffee
  • 2 digestive-type biscuits + 2 slices of pineapple + 1 mug of milky tea.

 


And in order to produce enough milk

If your baby is feeding correctly and completely emptying the breast(s) each time, your milk production will be perfect. Another important condition for producing enough milk is to get plenty of rest between feeds (tidying the flat can wait!), having confidence in yourself and in your baby. Also, make sure you drink plenty of liquid, preferably water or herbal or fruit teas, with verbena, fennel or aniseed, for example, which contribute to boosting your milk production.

Things to avoid, for the baby's sake…

First and foremost, any alcohol you consume passes directly into your breast milk and can, therefore, interfere with your baby's development. It is, therefore, to be entirely avoided, if possible, while you are breastfeeding. Don't panic if you succumb to the odd glass of champagne to celebrate your baby's birth. Just wait a few hours before breastfeeding. Also, limit your intake of stimulants such as tea and coffee.

Finally, be particularly vigilant with regard to any medication you take, especially cough medicine, corticosteroids, and certain antibiotics. Note: A small logo on the packaging (featuring a pregnant woman with a line through) indicates that the product is not to be taken when pregnant or breastfeeding. Also, read the instructions inside the box. Generally speaking, when you are breastfeeding, avoid self-medicating at all costs and see your GP whenever the need arises!

 

Opinion

Astrid, maman de Damien 2 mois et demi, et de Sophie 4 ans

Le petit truc à savoir : «J’ai constaté avec mon premier enfant que, faute de temps et d'organisation, mon alimentation n’était pas loin du… n'importe quoi ! ! Du coup, pour mon deuxième, j’ai planifié deux semaines de menus et remplis le réfrigérateur et le congélateur avec tout ce qu’il faut pour manger sain et délicieux ! 

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