Caring for Yourself

What Should I Eat and Drink?

Healthy eating is good for your body, especially when you are breastfeeding.  While you are breastfeeding you may feel more hungry and thirsty.

Eating well with Canada's Food Guide gives you advice on how to choose foods.

If you do not have a copy, please ask your doctor or midwife, a dietitian or visit Health Canada's website: www.hc-sc.gc.ca (click on Canada's Food Guide)

Every day, enjoy a variety of foods from each of the 4 food groups:

  • Vegetables and fruit
  • Grain products
  • Milk and alternatives
  • Meat and alternatives

Healthy foods to choose more often are:

  • Dark green and orange vegetables
  • Fresh, frozen or canned fruits
  • Whole grain and enriched products
  • Lower fat foods and milk products
  • Leaner meats, poultry and fish
  • Dried peas, beans and lentils

Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide gives a range of servings for each food group.  Follow the guidelines for breastfeeding mothers.

You do not need to increase the calcium in your diet while breastfeeding.


Caffeine

Caffeine is found in drinks such as coffee, iced and hot tea and cola.   Foods like chocolate that are made from cocoa contain caffeine too.   Caffeine is also found in some medications for colds or headaches.

Caffeine passes into breastmilk.  If you drink a moderate amount of caffeine there should be no effect on a healthy full-term baby.  A moderate amount is no more than 3 cups (750 ml or 24 ounces) a day of drinks that contain caffeine.  Please note, caffeine may have a different effect on a preterm or sick baby. 

Alcohol and Drugs

Alcohol passes into breastmilk, so it is best not to drink any alcohol, such as wine, beer or liquor while you are breastfeeding.

If you choose to drink alcohol while you are breastfeeding, it is best to limit yourself to small amounts, drink with food, and when your baby is not likely to breastfeed for a few hours.

For example, if a mother who weighs 150 pounds has 2 alcoholic drinks, it will take 4½ hours before her breastmilk is clear of alcohol.  If her baby is ready to feed before then, it would be best to feed him breastmilk that was expressed earlier, when the mother’s milk was clear of alcohol.

Recreational or street drugs such as marijuana, are not recommended during breastfeeding.

For more information call Motherisk at 1-877-327-4636 or visit www.motherisk.org


Herbal Teas

Some herbal teas are not safe to drink while breastfeeding.  The herbs in these teas have drug-like effects which can be passed to your baby through your breastmilk.  This can be harmful to your baby.

There is little information available from research about which herbal teas are safe to drink.  These herbal teas are considered safe to drink as they have little or no effect on your body:

  • Citrus peel
  • Orange peel
  • Ginger
  • Rosehip
  • Linden flower (not recommended for people with heart problems)

 

Food That Affects Your Baby

If you think your baby seems to get gas or become irritable from certain foods you have eaten, stop eating them for a few days.  Then, try them again in small amounts to see if your baby is still affected.
 

For more information:

  • call Motherisk at 1-877-327-4636 or visit www.motherisk.org
  • Talk to a health care provider.