As a new mum, you’ll be juggling a frequent feeding schedule with all the other demands on your time and energy. It can be exhausting.
Eating the right amount of a variety of foods will help you keep your energy levels up and provide nutritious breast milk for baby.
What’s the best nutrition for new mums?
Your recommended daily intake of nutrients increases up to 88% when you’re breastfeeding3, so you’ll need more nutrients to be able to make good quality breast milk. Increasing the quantities of vegetables and grains in your diet will support your own health and help you provide for your growing baby.
The New Zealand Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Pregnant and Breastfeeding women, published by the Ministry of Health, include recommendations for breastfeeding women as shown in the table below:
|Food group||Minimum Recommended Daily Intake (RDI)||Serving Size|
|Vegetables & Fruit|
4 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit
|A standard vegetable serve looks like:|
- 1 medium piece of potato, kumara, pumpkin, carrot, taro, kamokamo or yam (135g)
- 1/2 cup cooked vegetables e.g. puha, watercress, silverbeet, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, corn or peas (50-80g)
- 1/2 cup raw salad or bean sprouts (60g)
- 1 tomato (80g)
A standard fruit serve looks like:
- 1 medium apple or banana (130g)
- 2 small plums or apricots (100g)
- 1/2 cup stewed fruit (135g)
|Bread and Cereals||6 serves, preferably wholegrain/high fibre||A standard serve looks like:|
- 1 muffin (80 g)
- 1 medium slice bread (26 g)
- 1 cup cornflakes (30 g)
- 1 cup cooked pasta or rice (150 g)
- 2 plain sweet biscuits (14 g)
|Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds||2 serves||A standard serve looks like:|
- Cooked meat (about 100 g) e.g. beef, pork or lamb
- 2 drumsticks or 1 chicken leg (110 g)
- 1 medium piece of cooked fish (100 g)
- small can of canned fish (90 g)
- 1 egg (50 g)
- ¾ cup canned or cooked dried beans
- 1/3 cup nuts or seeds
- ¾ cup tofu
|Milk and milk products||3 serves, mostly reduced fat||A standard serve looks like:|
-1 large glass milk (250 ml)
-1 pottle yoghurt (150 g)
-2 slices hard cheese (40 g)
-1 large glass calcium-fortified soy milk (250 ml)
The guidelines also advise to:
- Switch from saturated fats like butter and cream to unsaturated fats like oils and spreads.
When you want a snack, choose a healthy option like yoghurt, a piece of cheese or a piece of fruit
- Cut back on processed and fast food. Takeaway meals and pre-made food like biscuits, cakes, processed meats, chips, sweets and soft drinks should only be eaten occasionally, if at all. When you want a snack, choose a healthy option like yoghurt, a piece of cheese or a piece of fruit.
- Drink at least 2 litres of water a day to keep hydrated.
Breast milk is recommended for baby's development
If you’re able to breastfeed, you’ll be providing the essential nutrition for your baby. Breast milk supports healthy development and helps bolster your baby’s immune system. Breastfeeding is also a great bonding experience for mums.
The New Zealand Dietary Guidelines5 recommend that babies are exclusively breastfed for around the first 6 months of life and continue to receive breast milk until the baby is at least 12 months old.
What you eat and drink can be passed through your breast milk to your baby
Foods and drinks to avoid or limit when breastfeeding
You’ll be happy to know that most of the food that was off the menu when you were pregnant can now be enjoyed again. But be mindful that what you eat and drink can be passed through your breast milk to your baby.
- Caffeine can make your baby restless and might interrupt your own sleeping patterns. Try to limit or reduce your daily intake.
- Alcohol and recreational drugs can affect your baby. The safest option is not to drink alcohol or take any recreational drugs when breastfeeding.
Nutritional support for new mums
Pregnancy may have left you low in iron and other important nutrients. Caring for a new baby will take up a lot of your time and energy, so you may find it difficult to eat properly in the first few months.
If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll need extra nutrients to cope with the demands of a hungry baby. Elevit with Iodine is specifically formulated for women who are trying to conceive, pregnant or breastfeeding. It contains 11 vitamins and 8 trace elements to help meet your increased nutritional requirements and help with your baby’s continued development.
We’ve got more tips to help you out
Healthy eating will help give you the nutrients you need to stay on top of your new role. Now check out our lifestyle tips for new mums for advice to help you settle into your routine and enjoy baby’s first months.