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Back You are here: Home Women World Mother and Child Feeding the Child Diet for a healthy breastfeeding mum - Part 2

Feeding the Child

Diet for a healthy breastfeeding mum - Part 2

Do I need extra calories when I am breastfeeding?

You don't need to have extra calories as a new mum, because your body is so efficient at producing milk. Be guided by your appetite, and eat when you're hungry. Your body may have laid down fat stores during pregnancy, and breastfeeding can help to use up these fat stores.

The amount you need to eat depends on your pre-pregnancy weight, and how much weight you gained during pregnancy, as well as how active you are.

Having said that, breastfeeding usually gives you a big appetite. So if you don't feel like eating, it could be a sign that you need extra emotional support. Women who have postnatal depression sometimes lose their appetite. If you're finding it a struggle to eat, talk to your doctor or health visitor.

Can I lose weight while I'm breastfeeding?

Yes. You may have put on a bit of weight while you were pregnant, so losing some of this weight while you're breastfeeding is fine. Losing about 500g (1lb) to 1kg (2lb) a week shouldn't affect the amount or the quality of milk you make.

However, if you have a newborn, you'll need plenty of energy. Trying to lose weight too soon after giving birth may delay your recovery and make you feel even more tired. So try to wait until you've had your postnatal check before you lose weight.

Eating healthily and doing some gentle exercise will help you to get in shape. This is better than very strict low-calorie diets when you are breastfeeding. You can increase how much you exercise six weeks to eight weeks after giving birth, if you feel up to it.

Can I drink tea and coffee if I'm breastfeeding?

Avoid having lots of caffeinated drinks when you're breastfeeding. Though there's no UK guideline for a safe amount of caffeine for breastfeeding mums, having no more than 300mg of caffeine a day is recommended in the US. That's about two cups of filter coffee, or four mugs of tea, a day.

More than this amount of caffeine is unlikely to harm your baby. However, if your baby seems very unsettled or restless, or finds it difficult to sleep, try cutting back on caffeine, or not having any at all. This may make a difference to your baby.

Do I need to take any supplements if I'm breastfeeding?

It's recommended that you take a daily supplement for breastfeeding mums that contains 10 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D. Breastfed babies get vitamin D from breastmilk, so you need to have enough vitamin D in your diet. If you took a supplement containing vitamin D when you were pregnant, you can carry on taking it while you're breastfeeding.

Vitamin D is made by our bodies when our skin is exposed to sunlight. It's important because it helps bones and teeth to grow healthily. In the UK, it can be hard to make enough vitamin D all year round, especially if you don't spend much time outside, or have dark skin.

If you are on a low income, you may be eligible for free healthy start vitamins, which contain vitamins A, C and D. Find out more at your doctor's surgery or health visitor's clinic.

Can I have herbal remedies if I'm breastfeeding?

You can drink most herbal teas when you are breastfeeding. Herbal teas bought from supermarkets, which use ingredients you might cook with, such as fennel, camomile and peppermint, are safe to drink in moderation.

Herbal medicines, however, are a different matter. You shouldn't take them while you are breastfeeding, because we don't know enough about how they affect breastmilk.