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Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust
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Diet and Breastfeeding

You do not need to have a special diet while you are breastfeeding. However, being a new Mother can be hard work, so it is important that you look after yourself by eating a healthy, balanced diet. Your diet should consist of food from all of the major foods groups:

  • carbohydrates
  • protein
  • fruit and vegetables (at least five portions a day)
  • dairy
  • fats

Drinking plenty of fluids will also help to ensure that both you and your baby stay healthy. Water, milk, and unsweetened fruit juice are good choices for drinks. See Birth to Five (copy supplied by Midwife) for more information and advice about specific food types.

Vitamins

While you are breastfeeding, it is recommended that you take daily Vitamin D supplements that contain 10 micrograms (mcg). All the other vitamins and minerals that you need can be found in a varied and balanced diet.

Your GP, Midwife or Health Visitor will be able to advise you about where you can get vitamin D supplements. If you are eligible for the Healthy Start scheme, you may be able to get free vitamin supplements without a prescription. Expectant
parents will be informed of Healthy Start via the Community midwife at antenatal booking.

Medication

Small amounts of any type of medication taken while you are breastfeeding can pass from your body into your breast milk. However, the amount is usually very small (less than 1%). Medicines that can be taken while you are breastfeeding include:

  • most antibiotics
  • common painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen (but not aspirin)
  • hay fever medicines, including Clarityn and Zirtek
  • cough medicines (provided that they do not make you drowsy)
  • asthma inhalers
  • normal doses of vitamins

If you are breastfeeding, you should avoid:


  • nicotine
  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • illegal drugs

These substances can disrupt your baby’s feeding, sleeping and digestion. Seek advice from your GP if you are taking medication for an existing health condition. You should inform any other healthcare professionals that you are
breastfeeding so that they can give you appropriate advice and treatment. See Birth to five (copy supplied by Midwife) for more information and advice about using medication while breastfeeding.

Contraception


Some types of contraception (but not all) can be used while breastfeeding. Check with your GP or Pharmacist if you are uncertain. In some breastfeeding women, the production of a hormone called prolactin suppresses the release of eggs from the ovary providing a natural form of contraception. However, this contraceptive effect only occurs in women who are
fully breastfeeding a baby that is less than six months of age. This means that you must:

  • be breastfeeding at regular intervals, both day and night, with feeds no longer than six hours apart
  • be giving your baby no other food or drink, so no breastfeeds are missed
  • have not had normal periods since the baby's birth


Even if you meet these three conditions, there is still a chance that you could get pregnant. Therefore, most family planning clinics and GP’s recommend taking extra precautions, such as using condoms, the progestogen-only pill (POP) or an intrauterine device (the coil).