Welcoming a new little member to the family is a wonderful experience, but it also brings significant changes to your life. Amidst all the newness, it's essential not to forget about yourself. A healthy diet is the key to giving you and your baby a good start together. With tips from the Swedish National Food Agency (Livsmedelsverket), we'll guide you on what's good — and not so good — to eat and drink while breastfeeding.
If you want to establish a good feeding routine for your baby, download the LEIA Health app and try our feeding log, which helps you keep track of when and how you last breastfed, pumped, or bottle-fed.
Here are some tips:
Eat lots of leafy green and root vegetables, fruits and berries.
Eat seafood two to three times a week, and vary between fatty and lean varieties. Choose eco-labeled fish.
Cook with healthy oils such as rapeseed/canola oil or liquid cooking fat made from rapeseed oil.
Have 3-5 dl milk (300-500 ml), whey, yogurt, rapeseed/canola or fortified vegan alternatives a day.
Choose whole grain products for pasta, bread, and cereal.
Use iodized salt while cooking, but don't add extra salt to your food.
Drink water when you're eating and whenever you're thirsty - you need more fluids when breastfeeding.
Alcohol has no benefits for breastfeeding. But studies have found that drinking alcohol probably doesn't pose a medical risk to the baby as long as you drink in moderation, i.e. 1-2 glasses of wine or the equivalent 1-2 times a week. Babies only ingest a very small amount of alcohol from breastfeeding.
Dietary supplements to complement your diet
Dietary supplements can't replace all the nutrients found in food, but sometimes vitamins, minerals, or omega-3 fat supplements are needed to ensure a well-rounded diet. Here are some recommendations:
Fish oil or algal oil with Omega-3(DHA) can be an alternative for breastfeeding mamas who don't eat fish.
Vitamin D supplements are recommended for moms who don't eat Vitamin D-enriched products, don't eat fish, and/or are fully covered with clothing outdoors, even in summer.
People who have taken iron supplements during pregnancy usually don't need to continue doing so while breastfeeding, but it's a good idea to eat iron-rich foods to replenish the body’s iron levels.
Food to avoid
Just like when you were pregnant, there are some types of fish that you shouldn't eat as often, as they may contain high levels of environmental toxins. Some examples are Perch, Pike, Lake trout (Char), Catfish, Monkfish, Swordfish, Halibut, (Fresh/Frozen) Tuna, and Eel.
It's often not known whether supplements, herbal products, plant extracts and similar things can be harmful to breastfed babies, as they usually haven't been tested on young children. So, stay away from all types of supplements and herbal / plant-based remedies unless you get the all-clear from a medical professional first.
Avoid ginseng products. They are unsuitable while breastfeeding.
Eating normal amounts of spices and herbs in food or baked goods is okay. However, eating several teaspoons each day of spice (such as cinnamon), or concentrated spices in supplements, can be harmful to both you and your baby.
Many people drink rooibos, chamomile, or other evening teas because they don't contain caffeine. Sweden’s National Food Administration is looking at whether these herbal teas may be harmful while breastfeeding. So be careful with these teas for the time being.
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The Swedish National Food Agency (Livsmedelsverket) provides updated information on its website regarding dietary considerations for breastfeeding and which foods may contribute to inappropriate substances in breast milk. Please refer to www.livsmedelsverket.se for more information.
Note: While the following information can be beneficial for many, it's important to recognize that different rules and guidelines may apply in other countries. Always consider the specific recommendations and guidelines provided by your local health authorities and healthcare professionals.