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Diet for a healthy breastfeeding mum - Part 1

What should I eat when I'm breastfeeding?
You don't need to eat any special or different foods while you're breastfeeding. However, you should try to follow a healthy, balanced diet, which includes:

- Starchy foods, such as bread and rice. Choose wholegrain varieties, for added fibre.
- Plenty of fruit and vegetables.
- Some protein, such as lean meat, eggs and pulses. Have at least two portions of fish a week, including oily varieties, such as salmon.
- Some low-fat dairy food, such as a yoghurt or a glass of milk.

What shouldn't I eat when breastfeeding?
You can eat virtually anything you like while breastfeeding, in moderation.

However, traces of food and drink can sometimes get into breastmilk, and this may affect your baby. Some babies are affected by a protein in cow's milk, which causes symptoms such as:

- bloating
- itchy skin and a rash
- swollen eyes, face or lips
- wheeziness or coughing
- diarrhoea
- constipation
- vomiting or reflux
- a poor appetite
- eczema
- changes to her poo
- not growing well
If you think that dairy is affecting your baby, talk to your health visitor about removing it from your diet for a week or so, to see if it makes a difference. Though if your baby has been diagnosed with a cow's milk allergy, your dietitian will advise you about how to remove it from your diet completely. You may also need to take calcium and vitamin D supplements.

There isn't much evidence to suggest that certain foods you eat while you are breastfeeding cause your baby to have colic. Colic could be due a number of things, such as your baby not being latched on well, or gulping milk too enthusiastically and taking in too much air. Some mums worry about eating peanuts while breastfeeding, but there's no real evidence that this makes your baby more likely to develop a peanut allergy. So as long as you're not allergic to peanuts, you can eat them as part of a balanced diet.
Do I need to drink more water when I'm breastfeeding?
You only need to drink enough to satisfy your thirst while you're breastfeeding. Drinking lots of water, or being thirsty, won't affect your milk supply. Your body is very good at regulating its reserves to keep your milk supply going.

However, bear in mind that during breastfeeding your body releases the hormone oxytocin, which makes you feel thirsty. So keep a drink nearby when you're breastfeeding.

If you're worried about whether you're getting enough to drink, check the colour of your wee. If it's pale-coloured, you're getting plenty to drink. If it's dark yellow, or smells strongly, or if you feel lethargic or faint, you may be dehydrated, in which case you should drink more water.

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