Caring for Yourself While Breastfeeding
After birth you and your baby will need time to learn to breastfeed. You will also need to look after yourself and your baby. Here are some tips:
- make sleep/rest a priority
- limit visitors, telephone calls and other interruptions during the early weeks
- ask for help when needed
- accept help when offered
Eating well when breastfeeding helps you to:
- Feel your best
- Recover from labour and birth
- Get all the nutrients and energy you need
What Should I Eat When I Am Breastfeeding?
- Eat a variety of healthy foods each day.
- Fill ½ of your plate with vegetables and fruits.
- Fill ¼ of your plate with whole grain foods (such as brown rice, whole grain pastas and whole grain breads).
- Fill ¼ of your plate with protein foods (such as dried beans/lentils, tofu, eggs , fish/seafood, chicken, and lean red meat).
- Make water your drink of choice. Other healthy fluids/beverages include milk, unsweetened fortified soy beverage and soup/broth.
I’m so Busy with My New Baby, How Do I Make Sure I’m Eating Well?
- Eat regularly throughout the day. Try not to skip meals because this can make you feel more tired.
- Eat or snack while the baby is sleeping or napping.
- Have healthy snacks available such as cut-up vegetables and fruit, yogurt, cheese, nuts/seeds, boiled eggs, hummus and whole grain crackers.
- Carry a reusable water bottle when you are out and refill with water as needed.
- Drink fluids every time your baby breastfeeds.
- Accept help from family and friends.
- Prepare meals in large batches, freeze and reheat for a quick meal. Freezer friendly dishes/foods (homemade or store-bought) include lasagna/baked pastas, pizzas, chili, soups, stews, curries, meatballs or burger patties, falafel or chickpea patties, perogies, wontons, and frozen mixed vegetables.
Breastfeeding is a proven, natural, short term (six month) method of birth control.
Breastfeeding is 98-99% effective in preventing pregnancy, but only if you follow these rules:
- Your baby is under six months
- Your monthly periods have not returned
- Your baby is fully or nearly fully breastfed
- fully breastfed means your baby gets all food from suckling at the breast
- nearly fully breastfed means, in addition to breastfeeding, vitamins, minerals, juice, water or any other foods are given infrequently (no more than one or two mouthfuls a day)
- to be fully breastfed or nearly fully breastfed, your baby should be breastfed at least every four hours and not have more than one 6 hour stretch between breastfeeding in 24 hours
Other methods of birth control that do not affect breastfeeding include:
- condoms (male and female)
- diaphragm – must be refitted after pregnancy
- IUD (Intrauterine Device)
- IUS (Intrauterine System)
- tubal ligation
Speak to your health care providers or call the Sexual Health Infoline Ontario at 416-392-2437 for more information about birth control.
In almost all cases it is safe to continue breastfeeding if you need to take medicine. Call Breastfeeding Clinics for more information.