Nutrition for Breastfeeding Mothers: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

When a woman breastfeeds her baby, she needs more nutrients to keep herself healthy and to make the baby's milk.

Breastfeeding helps build the bond between you and your baby. It gives your baby excellent health benefits.

A healthy diet includes eating a variety of foods from the food groups: vegetables and fruit, grain products, milk and alternatives, and meat and alternatives. Eating well during breastfeeding will ensure that you stay healthy and your baby grows and develops normally.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Go to Canada's Food Guide at www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/basics-base/quantit-eng.php to learn how many food guide servings you should aim for each day. Most women who are breastfeeding will need to add 2 or 3 extra servings to their diet. If you are a young (teen) mother or are the mother of twins or more, your nutritional needs are even greater. Talk to your doctor about what is right for you.

  • Eat at least 3 meals and 2 healthy snacks every day. Eat fresh, whole foods, including:
    • Vegetables and fruit. Be sure to include a variety of colours. A serving is ½ cup of fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables or fruit, 1 cup of leafy raw vegetables, 1 piece of fruit, or ½ cup 100% juice.
    • Grain products. A serving is 1 slice of bread, 30 g of cold cereal, ½ cup of cooked rice or cooked pasta, or ¾ cup cooked cereal.
    • Milk and alternatives. A serving is 1 cup of milk or fortified soy beverage, 1 cup of cottage cheese, ¾ cup of yogurt, or 1½ ounces of cheese.
    • Meat and alternatives. A serving is 2½ ounces of cooked fish, shellfish, poultry, or lean meat, ¾ cup cooked beans, 2 eggs, or 2 tablespoons peanut butter.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • Limit caffeine products, such as coffee, tea, chocolate, and some sodas. Caffeine can pass to your baby through breast milk. It may cause fussiness and sleep problems in babies.
  • Your doctor may recommend a vitamin supplement. Take it as recommended.
  • Consider joining a support group. These are offered at many hospitals and birthing centres by nurses, midwives, or lactation consultants.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have severe belly pain.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You think you may be pregnant.
  • You have any problems with your birth control.
  • You feel you may be depressed.
  • You regularly have spotting.
  • You think you may have been exposed to or have a sexually transmitted infection.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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