Laying nutritional foundations for breastfeeding

laying nutritional foundations for breastfeeding
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Recently attending an international breastfeeding conference in France, I was once again awed by nature’s amazing first food for babies – breast milk. Read on about laying nutritional foundations for breastfeeding. By Kath Megaw, clinical dietitian and founder of Nutripaeds.

As much as we know about breast milk, there is an equal amount we don’t know and will still discover in years to come.

“Balance is key and it is important that the pregnant mother maintains normal blood sugar levels and gets enough calories.”

Over the decades, a huge amount of funding and research has gone into middle-aged lifestyle illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, etc.

What if we had to put that same funding value into research and improvement in our babies’ nutrition – breast milk (and formulas feeds for those that can’t), starting solids and moving beyond? Could we elevate and possibly prevent lifestyle adult-onset diseases?

Could we perhaps drastically reduce childhood and adolescent obesity? The answer is a resounding yes! We could reduce the incidence of childhood obesity and teenage diabetes and adult-onset cardiac disease – and the list goes on.

A child’s first 1000 days are critical

By the age of two years, a baby’s brain has reached 80% of its adult size. The quality of experiences during the first 1000 days of life establishes either a strong or fragile foundation for everything that follows.

Everyone wants to do the best for their child to maximise their happiness and success in life. Imagine if you had the power to influence their good health, their school performance, their physical stamina and even their musical ability before they even learn to read? Hard to believe?

All of this is within your grasp. We know that the right nutrition in the first 1 000 days of your child’s life can positively impact on every aspect of their lives, now and forever.

PregnancyYour diet during pregnancy programmes your baby’s health forever.
BreastfeedingReduces your child’s chances of being obese.
WeaningIntroducing a healthy, varied diet will improve eating habits for life.
ToddlerNutrition affects your toddler’s brain development forever.

Let’s start with pregnancy for nutritional foundations for breastfeeding

Radio, television, diet books and magazines have given a lot of attention to the no- or low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets. It is safe for women to eat lower carb during pregnancy, as long as they are still eating certain foods for proper nutrition.

Remember, a foetus requires both glucose and ketones to grow, so a balance is key and it is important that the pregnant mother maintains normal blood sugar levels and gets enough calories.

ALSO READ: The best Jungle Juice recipe to boost your milk supply while breastfeeding


Although ketosis is natural and safe if done effectively, big changes happen in a woman’s body and extra precautions must be taken during this cycle of life.

Here are some things to keep in mind for those who are pregnant, whether in ketosis or not:

  • Don’t aim for weight loss. We know the low carb diet is effective for weight loss, but for most pregnant women this is not the time to pursue it. No matter what way of eating is being followed, getting enough calories and proper nutrition is most important.
  • Eat whole foods. Speaking of nutrition, it’s especially vital when you’re growing a baby. That being said, there are some foods with carbohydrates that are important for pregnant women to include in their diets such as vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes, and sometimes dairy.
  • Avoid refined grains, added sugars, and processed foods. The quality of carbohydrates is important to ensure the diet is nutrient-dense and both mom and baby are getting the good stuff they need to thrive.
  • Don’t do intermittent fasting. It may have a variety of benefits for the average person, it’s not appropriate during pregnancy when it’s most important to listen to your own hunger cues and ensure mother and baby are getting enough nutrients for growth.

Laying nutritional foundations pregnancy - BabyYumYumI find it ironic that if you tell your doctor that you plan to eat low carb during pregnancy, they’ll say it is unsafe, but if you say you plan to eat a diet based on fresh vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds and a little fruit, they will tell you to stay the course!

Don’t say keto. It makes them scared. Rather say you’re eliminating sugar and processed, starchy foods. No doctor is going to give you a daily sugar requirement.

ALSO RECOMMEND TO READ: Breastfeeding: what to eat & what to avoid

FAQs on Laying Nutritional Foundations for Breastfeeding

Why is breast milk considered the best food for babies?

Breast milk is nature’s perfect first food for babies, providing essential nutrients, antibodies, and growth factors that support the baby’s development and immune system.

How can a mother’s diet during pregnancy affect her baby’s future health?

A balanced diet during pregnancy can programme the baby’s health for life, reducing the risk of conditions like obesity and diabetes, and supporting brain development.

What are the critical nutritional considerations during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life?

Proper nutrition during the first 1,000 days (from conception to the age of two) is vital for brain development, physical health, and long-term wellbeing, establishing a strong foundation for the future.

Is it safe to follow a low-carbohydrate diet during pregnancy?

Yes, it is safe to eat a lower-carbohydrate diet during pregnancy as long as it includes essential foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes to ensure proper nutrition and calorie intake.

What foods should pregnant women avoid to maintain a healthy diet?

Pregnant women should avoid refined grains, added sugars, and processed foods. These should be replaced with nutrient-dense whole foods like fresh vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, and seeds.

Why is it important to maintain normal blood sugar levels during pregnancy?

Maintaining normal blood sugar levels is crucial because both glucose and ketones are necessary for foetal growth. Proper blood sugar control helps ensure the health of both mother and baby.

Can ketosis be safe during pregnancy?

Ketosis can be safe if done effectively, but it requires careful management. Pregnant women should not aim for weight loss and must ensure they are consuming enough calories and nutrients.

Why should pregnant women avoid intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is not recommended during pregnancy because it is essential for the mother to listen to hunger cues and ensure both she and the baby are receiving adequate nutrients for growth.

What are some important foods to include in a pregnant woman’s diet?

Important foods include vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, and sometimes dairy. These foods provide essential nutrients needed for the baby’s growth and development.

How does breastfeeding reduce a child’s chances of obesity?

Breastfeeding provides optimal nutrition tailored to the baby’s needs, which helps regulate appetite and metabolism, reducing the risk of childhood obesity.

What impact does weaning have on a child’s eating habits?

Introducing a healthy, varied diet during weaning can improve lifelong eating habits and preferences, supporting better nutrition and health outcomes.

Why is toddler nutrition critical for brain development?

Proper nutrition during the toddler years supports continued brain development, which is crucial for cognitive functions, learning abilities, and overall development.

What should you tell your doctor about your diet during pregnancy?

It’s better to describe your diet in terms of eating fresh vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds, and a little fruit rather than labelling it as “keto” to avoid concerns and ensure the focus remains on nutrient-dense foods.

How does proper nutrition in the first 1,000 days impact a child’s life?

Proper nutrition during this period positively affects every aspect of a child’s life, including their health, school performance, physical stamina, and even abilities such as musical talent.

What precautions should be taken when making dietary changes during pregnancy?

Pregnant women should avoid drastic dietary changes without consulting a healthcare provider, ensure they are eating enough calories and nutrients, and avoid diets that promote weight loss during this critical period.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment