Best eaten Opt for low-fat versions.
How it helps Calcium is important at all stages of your life, says Pauline. But you’ll need more of it – about 1,000mg per day – if you’re breastfeeding, to maintain healthy bones and teeth. Dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt, are the best sources, says Jaclyn. Make sure to have one to two servings every day – one serving is equivalent to a glass of milk, two slices of cheese and a 150g tub of yogurt.
Best eaten Slow-cooked in soup and stews, and with some ginger or turmeric to aid digestion.
How it helps Lentils, peas, green and yellow mung beans are high in vitamins and minerals and low in fat and cholesterol, says Sarah of Mount Alvernia. In fact, with their high-protein content, legumes can be a healthier alternative to meat, as well. Soya nuts and edamame make better snacks than junk food.
Lean red meat
Best eaten Stir-fried, stewed or grilled.
How it helps You’ll need at least 19mg of iron daily to help replenish blood loss during childbirth, says Pauline. One serving of lean beef contains about 3.2mg of iron. Your body absorbs iron better when it comes from animal sources (such as red meat) compared to plants (like legumes and spinach), she adds. Serve with a side of vitamin C-rich fruit or greens to boost iron absorption, but don’t wash your meals down with a cup of teh or kopi – these caffeinated beverages can counter the effect.
Best taken Brewed as a tea.
How it helps Breastfeeding mums in India have traditionally used this herb to increase their milk supply. According to Associate Professor Tan Thiam Chye, head and senior consultant at the division of obstetrics and gynaecology at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, fenugreek is considered safe for nursing mums, although having too much of it can lead to loose stools. Make the tea by adding one teaspoon of fenugreek seeds into a cup of hot water. Take this three times a day, says Prof Tan. It’s also available in capsule form from pharmacies.
Best eaten Steamed.
How it helps Don’t cut the carbs even if you’re eager to lose that post-baby weight. Any sudden drop in your calorie intake after delivery can make your milk supply dip, says Pauline. Jaclyn suggests eating smart by opting for wholegrain carbohydrates, such as brown rice, which burns energy gradually. It’s also high in fibre, which aids bowel movements.
Best taken As is.
How it helps While some mums swear by red date tea to prevent water retention after childbirth, the experts say that plain water is a better hydration option. About 88 per cent of breast milk is made up of water, so it’s important for nursing mums to drink up, explains Pauline from NHGP. Aim for eight glasses per day.
Best eaten Hard-boiled, scrambled, steamed – whichever way you prefer.
How they help They aren’t just a good source of protein; eggs also contain vitamin D, which enhances calcium absorption, says Pauline. For an added nutritious boost, opt for DHA-fortified ones.