By: Kelly Atyeo, B.A.Sc., M.H.Sc., P.H.Ec.
Having a baby brings an abundance of joy and also a lot of change. You may be juggling a million things, but one which will always remain a top priority is nutrition for both mom and baby.
Best Nutrition for Baby
Feeding your newborn exclusively by breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant’s life is globally considered to be the “best form of nutrition”.1-3 Breast milk provides the right amount of nutrients for your newborn baby and is easy to absorb/digest.1-3 Interestingly, as you breastfeed your infant, the composition of the nutrients in your breast milk changes to support their growth and development!1-3
Also – it contains antibodies that help kick start your baby’s immune system so they can fight bacteria, prevent diseases, and reduce their risk of developing allergies.1-3
After six months (in addition to breast milk) your baby may be ready to eat solid foods, which should be rich in iron.1,3 Some examples of iron-rich foods are: meat, poultry, fish, tofu, eggs, legumes, fortified infant cereals.1
Healthy Nutrition for Mom
Your nutrition is just as important as your baby’s nutrition. When you are breastfeeding, your body is using more energy and nutrients to support the growth of your baby.4 In general, adult women (19–50 years of age) require the following number of servings according to Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide5:
Vegetables & Fruits – 7-8 servings/day
Grain Products – 6-7 servings/day
Milk & Alternatives – 2 servings/day
Meat & Alternatives – 2 servings/day
However, women who are breastfeeding need a bit more energy (approximately 350-400 extra calories). Health Canada suggests eating 2-3 more servings of any food group to increase your energy needs.4 A quick and healthy snack could be as simple as eating a yogurt with an apple or a small protein-rich chicken wrap!
Some other important nutrients women who are breastfeeding need to be aware of are the following 4,6:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Folate (often recommended in a supplement form)
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
For another healthy snack idea – try making a healthy chicken pita using dark meat. Dark meat has more iron than white meat and will provide you with other essential nutrients like Vitamin B12 & B6.
75 g (1 serving) of chicken legs or thighs (shredded or diced)
½ whole grain pita
½ cup diced tomatoes & cucumbers
Eating a healthy balanced diet with all food groups as recommended in Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide is a great way to ensure you’re getting enough nutrients. However, if you are concerned with your nutritional intake while you’re breastfeeding, speak to your physician and/or a Registered Dietitian.
Don’t feel bad if you find breastfeeding to be a challenge – you’re not alone! You also have the option of speaking with lactation consultants, public health nurses, midwifes, and family members who can provide you with helpful tips on how to successfully breastfeed.2,3
Cooking & Eating for 2!
As a new mom, you’ll now be cooking and eating for two…or more! The following chicken recipes give you a starting point to getting all the important nutrients mentioned above – and they taste great too!
Health Canada. (2014). Nutrition for Healthy Term Infants: Recommendations from Birth to Six Months. Retrieved July 2, 2014, from www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/infant-nourisson/recom/index-eng.php#a7
Public Health Agency of Canada. (2014). Ten valuable tips for successful breastfeeding. Retrieved July 7, 2014, from www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hp-ps/dca-dea/stages-etapes/childhood-enfance_0-2/nutrition/tips-cons-eng.php
Public Health Agency of Canada. (2014). 10 Great Reasons to Breastfeed your Baby. Retrieved July 7, 2014, from www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hp-ps/dca-dea/stages-etapes/childhood-enfance_0-2/nutrition/reasons-raisons-eng.php
Health Canada. (2009). Prenatal Nutrition Guidelines for Health Professionals – Background on Canada’s Food Guide. Retrieved July 2, 2014, from www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/pubs/nutrition/guide-prenatal-eng.php
Health Canada. (2009). Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide. Retrieved July 24, 2014, from www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/alt_formats/hpfb-dgpsa/pdf/food-guide-aliment/view_eatwell_vue_bienmang-eng.pdf
University of California San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital. (2014). Nutrition Tips for Breastfeeding Mothers. Retrieved July 2, 2014, from www.ucsfbenioffchildrens.org/education/nutrition_tips_for_breastfeeding_mothers/