Nutrition recommendations during lactation.
The energy cost of lactation depends largely on how much milk your baby is drinking. Assuming human milk provides about 3 kilojoules per mL, and that you are producing 1 litre a day, that’s a whopping 3000 kilojoules in the milk itself. But there’s a ‘tax’ in making all this milk, so in fact you need to ingest an extra 3700 kilojoules/day. However, most women have stored some extra fat during pregnancy which they want to lose during the first few months of their baby’s life. Allowing for this, the science suggests you need to get about 2000 extra kilojoules a day – about 20 per cent more than usual. Most women just eat more but some women do less physical activity than usual.
Losing weight: If you entered pregnancy being overweight, then now’s a good time to lose those extra kilos. You should do it slowly. Losses of approximately half a kilogram a week do not seem to affect milk production or your baby’s rate of growth. If you started pregnancy underweight, then make sure you eat three meals a day and are not losing weight. If your appetite is poor, then make an extra effort to eat small, energy dense healthy snacks (for example, nuts and dried fruit) between meals. During lactation, you’ll need an extra 15–20 g of protein a day – that’s relatively easy to obtain in our diet.
Nutrients that may be deficient in your diet while breastfeeding include folate, calcium, and vitamins E, D and B6.
- Folate: You’ll need about 130 micrograms more folate a day than you did pre-pregnancy. While a supplement is not necessary during lactation, make sure you are eating folate-rich foods – leafy green vegetables being one of the richest sources.
- Calcium: There’s about 250–300 mg of calcium in a litre of human milk, equivalent to an extra serving of dairy or equivalent per day.
- Vitamin D: Human milk provides small amounts of vitamin D, around 50 micrograms per litre. This is drawn from stores in your liver but these are depleted within eight weeks of birth. As it’s near impossible to obtain sufficient Vitamin D just from food (even with the ideal diet) so you need to expose your skin to brief periods of sunlight at appropriate times of the day.
If you are struggling to find time to eat, preparing a snack and something to drink (a glass of water) ahead of time, so it is ready when you sit down to feed baby, is a good option. It also makes sure you are refuelling and rehydrating as baby takes his or her nourishment from you.
Top 10 breastfeeding snacks
- Wholegrain toast or raisin toast
- Wholegrain sandwiches
- Glass of milk or soy milk or a fruit smoothie
- Dried fruit and nut mix
- Wholegrain crispbreads with cheese or avocado and tomato
- Hummus or tzatziki dip with vegetable crudités
- Muesli or porridge with low-fat milk or soy milk
- Small can of baked beans or four-bean mix
- Roasted chickpeas
This is an edited extract from my latest book (with Dr Kate Marsh and Prof Robert Moses), The Bump to Baby Low GI Eating Plan for Conception, Pregnancy and Beyond (Hachette Australia). You can visit us HERE.
We are delighted to let GI News readers know that a US edition is on the way. The publisher is Matthew Lore of The Experiment. Matthew has published many of our books in the past and we are very happy to be working with him on this. We will keep you posted re publication details.
New GI values from SUGiRS: Nudie coconut water.
Coconut water has long been a popular drink (fresh, canned or bottled) in tropical climes, especially in India, SE Asia, Brazil, the Caribbean, Africa and many Pacific islands. It is simply the watery fluid inside the coconut, so it’s a type of juice (but from a nut not a fruit). Like other juices, it is low GI. Compared with say fresh orange juice, it has similar carbs per serving, more potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium but not as much in the way of vitamin C. SUGiRS recently tested Nudie Coconut Water and here are the (rounded) results:
- ‘Straight Up’ Nudie Coconut Water (350ml bottle): GI 55, available carbohydrate 18g, fibre 1g, GL 10
You can check out the nutrition information panel HERE.
GI testing by an accredited laboratory
Dr Alexandra Jenkins
Glycemic Index Laboratories
20 Victoria Street, Suite 300
Toronto, Ontario M5C 298 Canada
Phone +1 416 861 0506
Research Manager, Sydney University Glycemic Index Research Service (SUGiRS)
Human Nutrition Unit, School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences
NSW 2006 Australia
Phone + 61 2 9351 6018
Fax: + 61 2 9351 6022