“If calories were currency, the process of making breastmilk is a very expensive exercise for the body,” Preeti says.
“The calories a breastfeeding mother burns are even greater than those during the third trimester of pregnancy.”
But breastfeeding mothers needn’t worry about drastically altering their calorie intake during breastfeeding. Rather, a continued focus on eating a balanced diet, from the five core food groups, is key.
“Some of the extra energy required to make breastmilk can be provided by the fat stores typically laid down by the body during pregnancy. The remaining energy can be fuelled by eating nutritious snacks and meals, frequently.”
“Sustained energy boosts can be achieved by eating nutrient-rich foods, rather than turning to ‘empty calories’ in foods that have low nutritional value, but are high in sugars and bad fats.”
Preeti’s top dietary tips for breastfeeding mothers are:
- Eat frequently – nutritious snacks and meals
- Have your water bottle at the ready – sipping frequently
- As you would normally (during pregnancy or otherwise), eat mainly from the five core food groups (grains, vegetables, fruit, dairy and lean meats and legumes)
- Limit foods high in saturated fat or with added sugar
- Limit your alcohol and caffeine consumption
“Your baby will consume the nutrients that you consume – through your breastmilk. So you should continue to eat a balanced and nutrient rich diet, with limited caffeine and, ideally, no alcohol,” Preeti says.
“Breastfeeding can be a great ‘pit stop’ moment for you to refuel. Some cut fruit, veggie sticks with hummus or trail mix are great go-to snacks.”
Here are four more nutritious snack ideas, ideal for breastfeeding mums who need to cradle baby in one arm, but can refuel using the other.
1 cup smooth peanut butter (natural is best)
½ cup dark chocolate chips
½ cup ground flax seed or chia seed
¼ cup honey
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Put the mixture in the fridge for 15-30 minutes so they are easier to roll.
Roll into 12 bites and store in the fridge for up to a week.
Tip: If the mixture seems too dry, add a tablespoon of water at a time and mix through.
Frozen yoghurt and fruit popsicles
3 cups Greek natural yoghurt
6 tablespoons honey
2 cups frozen fruit, such as raspberries, blueberries or mango
Whisk together 1 cup of yogurt and 2 tablespoons of honey.
In a food processor, pulse the remaining yoghurt and honey with the frozen fruit until semi smooth.
Spoon half of the plain yogurt and honey mixture into popsicle moulds, then half of the fruit mixture.
Repeat this process and swirl with a skewer to create a marbled effect.
Finish by inserting popsicle sticks and freezing for at least 8 hours.
1 jug still water
Create your flavour combination.
Some thought starters:
- Strawberry and lime
- Cucumber and mint
- Peach and basil
- Kiwi fruit and pear
- Watermelon and lemon
- Mango, raspberry and fresh ginger.
Fill a large jug with still water and at least two cups of ice cubes.
Thinly slice your chosen fruit, vegetable or herbs (leaving the skin on) and add to the water and ice.
Stir everything to begin the infusion process, before pouring into a tall glass with a straw (for ease while breastfeeding).
Chill the remaining water in the fridge, and be sure to top up your glass frequently throughout the day.
Mini pumpkin and fetta frittatas
1 leek (white part only), finely chopped
600g pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
6 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup reduced-fat milk
95g reduced-fat feta cheese
1/3 cup basil leaves, chopped
Preheat your oven to 200°C (180°C fan forced).
Lightly spray a 12-hole, mini muffin pan with oil.
In a lightly sprayed frypan, fry the leek for a few minutes, until it softens.
Add the pumpkin, ½ cup water, and cover the pan and steam for 10 minutes until just tender.
Separately, whisk together the eggs and milk, and add black pepper to taste.
Remove the pumpkin mixture from the heat and stir through the feta and basil.
Spoon the pumpkin mixture evenly into the mini muffin pan. Pour the egg mixture over the top of the pumpkin, and bake for 25 minutes, or until firm and golden.
After cooling for five minutes, turn the frittatas onto a wire rack and enjoy. Covered in the fridge, they will keep well for up to a week.