So often when you're pregnant or breastfeeding, you're told what not to eat: avoid alcohol, refrain from too much caffeine or artificial sugar, avoid certain cheese and fish. But no one actually tells you what you should be eating as a new mum.
As a breastfeeding mum, not only are you often sleep deprived and coming to terms with raising a beautiful new baby, your nutrients are physically being sucked out of you. As a survival method, your baby will take all of the goodness it needs from you, which means you need to make sure there is enough to go round for both of you.
Whilst the saying 'you're eating for two' does not mean you need to double up on every meal and every portion, you do need to consume more calories than you would usually. As a general guide, this is about an extra 500 calories per day. However, the best way is to eat to hunger and drink to thirst to ensure you are getting everything you need.
You are likely to become more thirsty when breastfeeding, hence the advice to drink to thirst. There is no set guideline to how much you should or shouldn't drink, but you will likely want more water than usual. If the weather is hot and you are keeping active, again, you will find you require more water.
It is common for breastfeeding mum's to suffer with anaemia, so consuming red meats and leafy green vegetables is recommended to keep anaemia at bay. This can help to keep energy levels higher, making it easier to cope with the demands of a newborn.
Low fat cheese and yoghurt is a great source of calcium for mum too. Research suggests it can help to make breast milk more filling for babies, however some study results differ. Regardless of milk content, it can help to keep bones and joints strong and healthy.
It goes without saying that any balanced diet requires fruit and vegetables. Sometimes, it can be hard to prepare healthy meals every day, however having some handy snacks such as carrot batons, cucumber sticks and blueberries at bay can stop you snacking on junk food and provides you and baby with lots of essential vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin D is a recommended supplement for anyone over the age of one. This is especially important for breastfeeding mums.