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.
If you are sick, it is important to talk to your health care provider. In most cases it is safe to continue breastfeeding while taking medications. Most medications will get into your breast milk to some degree but only in very small amounts. Generally, medications are considered safe for breastfeeding if they can be prescribed for infants.
When taking medications while breastfeeding:
- Talk to your health care professional if you have questions about the medication and breastfeeding.
- Speak to your health care professional about the timing of taking the medication.
- When it is time for the medication, breastfeed first and take the medication immediately after breastfeeding.
- Watch your baby for unusual signs and symptoms such as a rash. If you notice unusual changes in your baby contact your health care professional.
What If I Have to Stop Breastfeeding
If a medication is not recommended while breastfeeding, ask your health care professional to prescribe another medication. If there is no replacement, stop breastfeeding temporarily.
Before starting a medication that you know is not safe while breastfeeding, you can express and store your breast milk.
If you are told you need to stop breastfeeding temporarily, express or pump your breast milk to maintain your breast milk supply. Express eight or more times in 24 hours. Throw away your breast milk and continue to express or pump until you are able to breastfeed again.
To be safe check with your health care professional before taking prescriptions or over the counter medications or contact a breastfeeding clinic for more information.