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Easy nourishment for new mums

Easy nourishment for new mums

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Just how do you eat well when you're a busy- and tired- new mum? We asked Natasha Murray, nutritionist and Accredited Practising Dietitian.

Which nutrients do new mums tend be short on?

Calcium and iron. Results from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2011-12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey show that nearly three quarters (74%) of females are not meeting their calcium requirements and nearly one quarter (23%) not meeting their iron requirements from food.

What foods are important for supporting the body when you’ve got a newborn?

NM: as well as needing more fluids, breastfeeding mums have increased nutrition requirements including:
  • Energy (kilojoules)
  • Protein – such as dairy foods, lean meats, eggs, nuts and legumes/beans
  • Calcium – dairy is an excellent source, or choose soy alternatives with added calcium, or fish such as sardines or salmon
  • Other vitamins and minerals including iodine – fruit and veg are great for a variety of vitamins and minerals; health authorities recommend breastfeeding mums take an iodine supplement daily
READ MORE:What not to sweat with a newborn

How else can we eat and drink to support breast milk production?

Mum’s overall nutrition and hydration status has an effect on breast milk production. If mum isn’t eating or drinking enough, her supply will be affected. Milk production happens in response to infant demand – the more a baby feeds, the more milk will be produced.

Eating oats may help with milk production – porridge for breakfast is quick and easy!

Fluid is also really important for milk production. Try to have a drink at each feed (water is the best choice), and aim for urine to be pale yellow in colour.

What quick and easy meals and snacks are best suited to new mums?

A super quick go-to easy recipe for me is a jacket potato – a medium-sized potato pricked with a fork, cooked in the microwave for four mins – topped with baked beans and a little cheese. You could also top with tuna or leftover mince and coleslaw.  

Foods that are easy to eat, particularly one-handed, are helpful for new mums. You might like to prepare a lunchbox of snacks early in the day (or the night before) to keep in the fridge or within easy reach of the spot you breastfeed in. 

Ideas include:
  • Fruit and nuts
  • Yoghurt
  • Wholegrain toast with avocado or peanut butter
  • Smoothies
  • Wholegrain crackers and veggie sticks with dips such as hummus or tzatziki
  • Savoury muffins
It can also be helpful to cook in bulk (especially before bub arrives) and freeze meals in portions in order to create easy meals when life is busy or mum is tired. These should contain a protein source to meet increased needs. 

Ideas include:
  • Soups
  • Casseroles (extra frozen veg can also be added when reheating)
  • Pasta dishes
  • Stir-fries can be quick and easy meals to prepare, and remember frozen fruit and veg are just as nutritious as they are when fresh

Natasha’s tip

It’s safest to avoid alcohol when breastfeeding. If you do choose to drink, wait until breastfeeding is well established, and feed before drinking. It takes about two hours for one standard drink (eg 100ml wine, can/stubby of mid-strength beer, one shot of spirits) to clear from your body – the amount of alcohol in your blood is the same as that which is in breast milk.