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Healthy Eating for New Moms

Healthy Eating and regular physical activity after pregnancy will help you and your baby feel your best. Eating healthy foods helps to replace your body’s nutrient stores after pregnancy and  birth. It will also help you be a good role model for your child and family.

 

Healthy Eating Tips

  • Consult the healthy eating recommendations on Canada's Food Guide
  • Breastfeeding moms need more calories and nutrients
  • Eat a variety of vegetables and fruit, whole grain foods and protein foods
  • Protein foods come from meat, poultry, milk, yogurt, cheese and many plants
  • Choose protein foods from plants such as beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and tofu more often
  • Get enough iron by choosing protein foods and foods high in vitamin C daily
  • Choose foods that have little to no added sodium, sugar and saturated fats
  • Include healthy fats daily at your meals and snacks such as non-hydrogenated margarine, avocado, vegetable oil based dressings or vegetable oils such as canola and olive oil, nuts, seeds and fatty fish
  • Make water your drink of choice
 
new mom
 

Eat foods rich in omega 3 fats

  • Include at least 2 servings of fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, Atlantic herring, whitefish and trout per week because they provide protein and omega-3 fats
  • Choose fish low in mercury. Vary the types of fish you eat and follow advice from Health Canada to limit your exposure to mercury in fish
  • Include foods fortified with omega 3 fats, such as eggs, yogurt and milk
  • Algae are also a source of omega 3 fats
  • Speak with your health care provider about omega 3 supplements

Keep healthy snacks available

  • Have ready to eat snacks available to help keep your body well nourished
  • Cut fruits and vegetables and store in the fridge for easy snacking
  • Other ideas include yogurt, cheese, nut butters, whole grain crackers, roasted chick peas, pumpkin seeds and hummus

Try to drink about 3 L of fluid per day

  • This will help keep your body well-hydrated and will help with your milk supply
  • Water, unflavoured milk, unflavoured unsweetened fortified soy beverage, water, tea, coffee and soup are all good fluid choices

Limit your caffeine intake while breastfeeding

  • Caffeine is a stimulant and passes into breast milk
  • Up to 300 mg of caffeine is considered safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • It is safe to have up to 2 cups (500 ml) of coffee or 6 cups (1500 ml) of tea per day
  • Caffeine is also found in chocolate and cola
  • Some herbal teas may have harmful effects and many are not safe to drink while breastfeeding
  • Herbal teas that are generally considered safe in moderation (two to three cups per day) are:
    • Orange peel, ginger, lemon balm, linden flower and rose hip
    • Talk to your healthcare provider about the safe use of herbal teas or drinks

Avoid or limit alcohol

  • When a breastfeeding mother drinks alcohol, it enters into her breast milk
  • There is no safe level of alcohol for baby in breast milk
  • An occasional drink is not a reason to stop breastfeeding
  • If you decide to drink alcohol, feed your baby before drinking the alcohol or offer your baby milk that you pumped earlier
  • It will take 2-3 hours for the alcohol in one drink to clear out of breast milk

Continue to take a multivitamin and mineral supplement that contains folic acid and iron

  • You can use prenatal supplements or
  • A regular multivitamin and mineral supplement

Avoid trying to lose weight while breastfeeding

  • It’s not a good idea to try to lose a lot of weight while you are breastfeeding
  • Excessive restrictions on how much you eat and which foods you eat may cause your milk supply to decrease
  • Eat according to your appetite and pay attention to your feelings of hunger and thirst

If you have any concerns about breastfeeding, contact your healthcare provider for more information

 
Date of creation: January 9, 2013
Last modified on: November 3, 2021
 

References

1Dietitians of Canada - UnlockFood. (2019). How to make healthy eating choices while breastfeeding. Retrieved from
http://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Breastfeeding-Infant-feeding/How-to-make-healthy-choices-while-breastfeeding.aspx
2Health Canada (2021-07-21). Healthy eating when pregnant and breastfeeding Retrieved from
https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/tips-for-healthy-eating/pregnant-breastfeeding/
3Nutrition Connections (2021). Healthy Eating for a Healthy Baby Retrieved from
https://nutritionconnections.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/HEHB-booklet-2021_FINAL.pdf