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This article appeared in the West Australian newspaper, Mind & Body lift out on May 4 2010.
Being a mother can mean many things to you but I believe nutritionally it is a special privilege to enjoy a little extra food during pregnancy and breastfeeding, because you can! This is not to say one has to overindulge though - eating for two is not the rule! It is also easy to fall into the trap of continuing the increased intake later when it’s not required.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women need to eat approximately 2000kj a day in addition to their daily intake, which may range from 7000 to 10,000kj depending on body size. This amounts to roughly an extra serve of protein, an extra serve of fruit and a serve of dairy. This is the most nutritious way to consume the extra kilojoules (see table for example serves).
Breastfeeding mothers need extra fluid intake, as mothers lose about 800ml of fluid daily in breastmilk. New mums should therefore aim to drink almost three litres a day, sometimes more with exercise. Luckily breastfeeding stimulates the thirst mechanism encouraging an increase in fluid intake. Vitamin C is another nutrient the breastfeeding mother needs to replace, and just one extra piece of fruit will supply the extra 20mg required. As with all mothers good iron and calcium intake is also vital.
|Food type||One serve|
|protein||80g cooked meat (~2 slices) ½ cup cooked legumes 100g tuna 2 small eggs 1/3 cup nuts|
|fruit||One piece (e.g. apple, banana, peach) Handful of grapes, cherries 2 small pieces (e.g. kiwi, apricot) ½ glass juice|
|dairy||1 glass low-fat milk 30g slice cheese 1 tub low-fat yoghurt|
Losing the extra kilos from child bearing years can be a challenge. There are many traps for overeating, such as finishing kids leftovers, picking at food while preparing dinner, having an indulgent snack when having a coffee. They all add up to extra unwanted calories that have fat storage potential. A slice of decadent cake can contain up to 2000kJ alone, so if you indulge a little too often you create extra daily kilojoules that need to be used up. All mothers should avoid fad diets or dietary restriction to slim down because it can lead to low energy levels. Combine healthy eating with exercise for best results, and be persistent with good change. Exercise will help a mother feel energetic, maintain her health and well-being, while setting a great example for her children.