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Ante Natal Dietary & Breastfeeding Advice


This article deals with breastfeeding as well as antenatal dietary advice that expectant mothers’ need to know:

  • what to eat during pregnancy;
  • the benefits of breastfeeding; and
  • how to attach the baby correctly when breastfeeding.
Some general healthy eating guidelines for expectant mothers are as follows:
  • Enjoy a variety of foods
  • Make starchy foods the basis of your meals
  • Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Eat beans, peas, legumes, soya and lentils regularly
  • Meat, chicken, fish, dairy and eggs can be eaten everyday

Important vitamins and minerals needed during pregnancy include:
Calcium Needed for baby’s bones and teeth as well as keeping the mother’s bones healthy. Some sources of calcium include dairy products, pilchard bones, green leafy vegetables (such as spinach) & fortified bread;
Iron Needed to ensure an adequate blood supply for both baby & mother. Some sources include red meat, chicken, fish, green vegetables, eggs and dried fruit;
Vitamin C It is also very important to have Vitamin C such as Orange juice as it helps to increase absorption;
Folate Needed to ensure good brain development of the baby;
Zinc Needed for the general growth of the baby. Sources include meat, wholegrain cereals and cheese;
Omega 3’s Are very important for brain and eye development in the baby. Main sources of omega 3 are from fish sources such as pilchards and tuna.

Weight gain during pregnancy should be around 1.5kg in the 1st trimester and 0.4kg per week in the 2nd & 3rd trimesters.

Breastfeeding advice:

Breastfeeding can be the most beneficial if you exclusively breastfeed for 6 months. Exclusively means that you must only give breast milk and no other liquids such as water or juice.

There are many benefits to exclusive breastfeeding. The benefits for the baby include:

  • improving the immune system;
  • the composition of the breast milk includes, energy, protein, carbohydrates and fat;
  • there is less chance of overfeeding;
  • it is always readily available; and
  • it allows bonding time between the mother and the baby.

The benefits for the mother include weight loss, it helps with child spacing. It lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer and it saves time and money. It is also always readily available, it is at the right temperature and it is hygienic.

Positioning and Attachment:
Good Attachment Poor Attachment
Signs of good attachment: Signs of Poor Attachment
  • Mouth must be wide open
  • Areola must be more visible above
  • than below the mouth
  • Lower lip must be turned outwards Chin should be touching the breast
  • Mouth not wide open
  • Areola more visible below than above
  • than below the mouth
  • Lower lip pointing forward or turned
  • Chin away from breast
By Melissa Pyle, BSc. in Dietetics, Registered Dietician (SA)

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