Learn which healthy foods to include in your diet, so that baby enjoys the full benefits of your breastmilk…


Getting the right nutrition from your food will help you cope with the physical demands of caring for your newborn. Eating well will give you the strength and stamina to keep up with your little one.

As baby will rely on your breastmilk for all his nutritional needs until he is about 6 months, watch what you put into your mouth, since it can also affect the quality of your breastmilk.

Prepping well to nurse your baby will give you the best chance to steer clear of challenges and obstacles. SmartParents expert and Ob-Gyn at Gleneagles Hospital, Dr Christopher Chong suggests taking the following steps:

* Practise good breast hygiene and nipple care Make sure you care for your breasts after each feed by rinsing with clean water to wash away any saliva. Then, apply some of your own breastmilk or nipple cream before allowing it to dry off. This will prevent issues like blocked ducts, cracked nipples or breast abscesses from occurring.

* Stimulate nipples regularly and massage breasts Besides the kind of food you consume, making sure you carry out simple massage routines can enhance the quality and quantity of your milk.

* Inform your doctor if you’re nursing Certain drugs can travel through your breastmilk and lead to unnecessary health problems for your baby. So if you are feeling unwell and need to consult your doctor, be sure to let him know you are nursing your kewpie.

It goes without saying that your top priority is to stay healthy if you’re breastfeeding. Dr Chong notes that you can do that by getting enough rest, keeping yourself hydrated and eating a balanced diet. The good news is, you will feel hungrier than usual as your body will be burning about 300 to 500 more calories a day. Dr Chong has tips on which foods to avoid and what to eat when you breastfeed:

Foods to avoid


1. Tea and coffee Found in both tea and coffee, caffeine is known to cause dehydration, which will affect the quality and quantity of milk you produce.

2. Alcohol Besides being able to make its way into your breastmilk, alcohol can also inhibit the let-down reflex. Dr Chong explains that this may cause your milk supply to drop. If you do drink, make sure to wait about two hours — for the alcohol to be cleared from your body — before you nurse your infant again.

3. Shellfish Although fish and seafood are great sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, most of them may also contain mercury and other contaminants. These pose a risk to your baby’s developing nervous system. To minimise such issues, consume less seafood like swordfish, king mackerel and crustaceans.

4. Peppermint or menthol When consumed in large or concentrated amounts, this herb can decrease your production of milk.

5. Parsley Known to cause diuretic effects on the body, consuming this herb can lead to dehydration.

6. Oregano It’s been known to affect breastmilk supply, so you may notice a drop in the quantity of milk you produce.


Foods to eat

1. Oatmeal Dr Chong notes that whole grains and cereal like oatmeal are good sources of fibre, which not only keep you fuller for longer periods, these will also help you increase breastmilk supply.

2. Salmon Salmon is high in “healthy” fats like omega-3 fatty acids.

3. Spinach This vegetable is a rich source of calcium, iron and folic acid. A deficiency in the latter can give rise to anaemia, which slows down cellular growth and DNA replication. Calcium and iron also contribute to your infant’s bone health.

Whole grains and cereal like oatmeal are good sources of fibre… which will help you increase breastmilk supply.

4. Fenugreek This herb stimulates the milk ducts and is said to be effective in helping to increase your milk supply. It also reduces inflammation in your body and reduces your risk of developing mouth ulcers.

5. Carrots High in vitamin A, carrots not only help prevent night-blindness, it’s been known to increase milk supply, too.

6. Dairy products and eggs High in calcium and a vital source of protein which are crucial in boosting your child’s bone, teeth and muscle development.

Photos: iStock

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