Good eating and exercising habits are essential from the very start as you are giving your child invaluable nutrition in the early developmental stages of their life. If you simply want to drop back to your pre-baby weight, give it time and remember sensible eating goes hand in hand with regular exercise so take every opportunity to be active.
Nutrition guidelines change regularly but the emphasis is always on the importance of balance. We’re encouraged to eat a variety of fresh nutritious foods and to avoid processed foods high in saturated fat and sugar.
Breastfeeding and nutrition
Tresillian supports and promotes exclusively breastfeeding baby during the first six months of life because of the benefits for both mother and baby. If you’re an expectant or breastfeeding mum, now is a good time to take a look at your diet. It’s particularly important you’re eating a well-balanced diet to ensure your baby is receiving the right amount of vitamins and minerals that will promote his or her growth and development.
As breastfeeding uses lots of energy and nutrients, breastfeeding mothers can add an extra 300 calories to their daily intake or slightly more for those feeding twins. Your diet should also be rich in protein, calcium, iron and vitamins to maintain your health and wellbeing.
What is a well balanced diet?
According to the National Health and Medical Research Council Guidelines, choose from a wide variety of nutritious foods from these five good groups, every day:
- Plenty of vegetables of different types and colours, for example, spinach, red capsicum, beetroot and sweet potato
- Fruits such as blueberries, apples, oranges, strawberries
- Grain (cereal foods), mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties such as breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley
- Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans
- Milk, yoghurt, cheese, (mostly reduced fat). Dairy products are loaded with calcium and bone strengthening Vitamin D – try including at least three cups of dairy each day
It’s recommended that these foods be limited:
- Foods high in saturated fat such as sweet biscuits, cakes, hamburgers and pizza
- High fat spreads such as butter be replaced with avocado or hommus
- Drinks with a high sugar content such as cordials, energy drinks and sports drinks.
- Load up on ‘superfoods’ that are high in nutrients and light in calories and fat.
What about fluid intake?
Drinking plenty of water each day is recommended. Keeping a bottle of water handy is a great way to make sure you stay well hydrated. For women who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy, or breastfeeding, the safest option is not to drink alcohol at all. Drinks containing caffeine such as tea and coffee should also be drunk in small quantities whilst breastfeeding, as small amounts can flow through to breastmilk.
I’m gaining weight!
It’s normal to gain weight during pregnancy and to feel overweight after you’re given birth, however gaining too much weight can put you at risk of gestational diabetes and put your baby at greater risk of becoming overweight later in life. The amount of weight gained varies from person to person and depends on your pre-pregnancy weight. Your doctor is the best person to speak to about this.
While breastfeeding does burn up a lot of kilojoules, it can take some time to get back to your usual weight, so try and be patient.
Managing weight loss
One of the most common questions from new mums is ‘how can I lose the extra weight gained during pregnancy’. It’s not recommended to start a low calorie diet during pregnancy or during the early months of your baby’s life, however you can make some lifestyle changes by scheduling exercise in to your day and limiting your diet to a healthy range of foods.
- Try storing low calorie, nutritious snacks in the fridge such as carrot sticks, apple slices and snow peas, that are easy to munch on if you’re feeling hungry.
- Be prepared – cook double quantities of nutritious dinners so you can eat one meal and freeze another.
Finding time to exercise with a new baby may seem impossible but even a 15 minute powerwalk with baby in the pram will make a difference to you both physically and mentally.
To maintain motivation, there’s nothing like exercising with others. A morning or evening walk with your partner (and baby) can be an enjoyable daily activity. Likewise, join a gym with a crèche if you can. This offers the added benefit of having a short break from baby, meeting other parents and getting in a workout.