As a new mum, one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby is to eat a healthy diet.
Even though you may be in a hurry to lose those pregnancy pounds, regularly eating foods that boost energy for new mums will give you the stamina you need to be the best mum you can be. That’s because eating nutrient-rich foods at regular intervals throughout the day can maximise your energy levels.
And for breastfeeding mums, it’s important to know that the quality of your breast milk stays just about the same no matter what you choose to eat. That’s because if you aren’t getting the essential nutrients from your diet, your body will provide them from your own stores. But for your own wellbeing, it’s best to make sure you’re obtaining the nutrients your baby needs by incorporating a variety of healthy breastfeeding foods in your nursing mum food plan.
If you make sure the following 12 foods for new mums are a regular part of your diet, your body – and your baby – will thank you.
There’s no such thing as a perfect food. But salmon is pretty close when it comes to a nutritional powerhouse for new mums. One of the best breastfeeding foods available, salmon, like other fatty fish, is loaded with a type of fat called DHA. DHA is crucial for the development of your baby’s nervous system. All breast milk contains DHA, but levels of this essential nutrient are higher in the milk of women who get more DHA from their diets.
The DHA in salmon may also help your mood. Studies suggest it may play a role in preventing postnatal depression.
2. Low-fat dairy products
Whether you prefer yoghurt, milk or cheese, dairy products are an important part of most breastfeeding food plans. In addition to providing protein, B vitamins and vitamin D, dairy products are one of the best sources of calcium. If you’re breastfeeding, your milk is loaded with calcium to help your baby’s bones develop, so it’s important for you to eat enough calcium to meet your own needs. One way to do that is to include at least three servings of dairy each day as part of your breastfeeding food plan.
3. Lean beef
When you’re looking for foods to boost your energy as a new mum, seek out iron-rich foods such as lean beef. A deficiency of iron can drain your energy levels, making it hard for you to keep up with the demands of a newborn baby.
Also when you’re breastfeeding you need to eat extra protein and vitamin B12. Lean beef is an excellent source of both these nutrients.
Beans, especially dark-coloured ones such as black beans and kidney beans are a great breastfeeding food, especially for vegetarians. Not only are they rich in iron, they’re a budget-friendly source of high quality, non-animal protein.
Breastfeeding mums should be sure to get two or more servings of fruit or fruit juice (a glass of fruit juice counts as one serving no matter how many glasses are consumed) each day. Antioxidant-rich blueberries are an excellent choice to help you meet your needs. These satisfying and yummy berries are filled with good-for-you vitamins and minerals and will give you a healthy dose of carbohydrate to keep your energy levels high.
6. Brown rice
If you’re attempting to lose the baby weight, you might be tempted to cut back drastically on carbohydrates. But losing weight too quickly may cause you to produce less milk for the baby and leave you feeling lethargic and sluggish. It’s better to incorporate healthy, wholegrain carbohydrates such as brown rice in your diet to keep your energy levels up. And foods like brown rice provide your body with the calories it needs to produce the best quality milk for your baby.
Portable and nutritious, oranges are a great food to boost energy for new mums. As breastfeeding mums need a little more vitamin C than pregnant women, oranges and other citrus fruits are an excellent breastfeeding food too. Can’t find time to sit down to a snack? Sip some orange juice as you go about your day – you’ll get the vitamin C benefit and can even opt for calcium-fortified varieties to get even more benefit from your beverage.
Egg yolk is one of the few natural sources of vitamin D – an essential nutrient to keep your bones strong and help your baby’s bones grow. Eggs are also a versatile way to meet your daily protein needs. Try scrambling a couple for breakfast, tossing a hard-boiled egg or two onto your lunchtime salad or having an omelette and salad for supper. As part of your breastfeeding food plan, you might even opt for DHA-fortified eggs to increase the level of this essential fatty acid in your milk
9. Wholemeal bread
Folic acid is crucial for your baby’s development in the early stages of pregnancy. But its importance doesn’t end there. Folic acid – an important nutrient that your baby needs for good health – is found in breast milk. And it’s crucial you eat enough for your own wellbeing too. Wholemeal bread is fortified with this vital nutrient, and also gives you a healthy amount of fibre and iron.
10. Leafy greens
The list of benefits you get from eating leafy green vegetables such as spinach, curly kale and broccoli goes on and on. They’re filled with vitamin A, which your baby needs to get from your breast milk. They’re a non-dairy source of dietary calcium. They’re a source of vitamin C and iron. On top of that, green vegetables are filled with heart-healthy antioxidants, they’re low in calories and they’re tasty as well.
11. Wholegrain cereal
After yet another sleepless night, one of the best foods to boost energy for new mums in the morning is a healthy breakfast of wholegrain cereal. Many cold cereals are available that are fortified with essential vitamins and nutrients to help you meet your daily needs. Or whip up a healthy hot breakfast by stirring blueberries and skimmed milk into a delicious serving of porridge.
Dehydration is one of the biggest energy drainers there is. And new mums who are breastfeeding are especially at risk. To keep your energy levels and milk production up make sure you drink at least eight glasses of liquid every day. You can vary your options and meet some of your fluid requirements by drinking fruit juice and milk, but be careful when it comes to caffeinated drinks such as tea and coffee. Keep your intake low or switch to decaffeinated varieties. That’s because caffeine enters your breast milk and can become concentrated in your baby’s body.