Your Health and Nutrition
A healthy lifestyle—including having a balanced diet, getting plenty of rest, and being active—is important while you breast-feed. It can help you have more energy and reduce stress. It can also help you Reference build a healthy milk supply.
It's also important to know what to avoid. Anything you put in your body can be passed to your baby in breast milk.
Have a healthy diet
- Reference Have a balanced diet so that you get the vitamins and minerals you need for breast-feeding. You'll need to eat extra calories compared to the amount you ate when you weren't breast-feeding. It's a good idea to continue taking your prenatal vitamins while breast-feeding.
- Avoid quick weight loss. If you want to try to lose your pregnancy weight, lose it a little at a time so you don't affect your breast milk.
Some moms notice that Reference certain foods make their babies more fussy. You may want to keep track of what you eat and how your baby acts.
If you have special dietary needs, talk to a Reference dietitian Opens New Window. He or she can help you plan healthy meals.
Balance activity and sleep
- Reference Try to sleep and rest as well as you can. You likely will not have a normal schedule when you first start to breast-feed. But you can take naps and find time to rest for short periods throughout the day, such as when your baby sleeps.
- Reference Be active. Exercise helps with weight loss, improves your energy level, and can help you relieve stress.
Know what to avoid
- Reference Be careful taking medicine. Many medicines can affect your breast milk. Talk with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter or prescription medicines or herbs.
- Reference Avoid poisonous substances, such as fish that may contain mercury, that can be passed on to your baby through breast milk.
- Reference Avoid drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Any substance that you use while breast-feeding, including tobacco, can harm your baby.
Adjust to lifestyle changes
- Reference Understand sexual changes. Sexual relationships with your partner can take time to begin again.
- Reference Use birth control methods if you want to lower your pregnancy risk. Women who are breast-feeding can still become pregnant. But you are not likely to become pregnant in the first 6 months of exclusive breast-feeding (which means you are feeding your baby on demand and not using formula, food, or water to supplement his or her diet). After your baby is 6 months of age, you need to use a birth control method if you want to avoid pregnancy, regardless of whether you are breast-feeding exclusively.
Having a new baby and breast-feeding take time to get used to. Take it easy on yourself. Find ways to Reference help yourself cope in the first few months. Learning more about how your baby will grow and change may be helpful to you too. For more information, see the topic Reference Growth and Development, Newborn.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference October 31, 2011|
|Medical Review:||Reference Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology