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12 foods for new mums

As a new mum, one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby is to eat a healthy diet.

Even though you may be in a hurry to lose those pregnancy pounds, regularly eating foods that boost energy for new mums will give you the stamina you need to be the best mum you can be. That's because eating nutrient-rich foods at regular intervals throughout the day can maximise your energy levels.

And for breast feeding (nursing) mums, it's important to know that the quality of your breast milk stays just about the same no matter what you choose to eat. That's because if you aren't getting the essential nutrients from your diet, your body will provide them from your own stores. But for your own wellbeing, it's best to make sure you're obtaining the nutrients your baby needs by incorporating a variety of healthy breast-feeding foods in your nursing mum food plan.

If you make sure the following 12 foods for new mums are a regular part of your diet, your body - and your baby - will thank you.

1. Salmon

There's no such thing as a perfect food. But salmon is pretty close when it comes to a nutritional powerhouse for new mums. One of the best breast-feeding foods available, salmon, like other fatty fish, is loaded with a type of fat called DHA. DHA is crucial for the development of your baby's nervous system. All breast milk contains DHA, but levels of this essential nutrient are higher in the milk of women who get more DHA from their diets.

The DHA in salmon may also help your mood. Studies suggest it may play a role in preventing postnatal depression.

One caution: the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued precautionary advice on eating fish with the highest concentrations of mercury: breast-feeding women should limit their consumption of tuna to no more than two medium-sized cans or one fresh tuna steak a week, and avoid eating shark, swordfish and marlin. Salmon is considered to have a low mercury content when compared to these.

2. Low-fat dairy products

Whether you prefer yoghurt, milk or cheese, dairy products are an important part of most nursing-mum food plans. In addition to providing protein, B vitamins and vitamin D, dairy products are one of the best sources of calcium. If you're breast-feeding, your milk is loaded with calcium to help your baby's bones develop, so it's important for you to eat enough calcium to meet your own needs. One way to do that is to include at least three servings of dairy each day as part of your nursing-mum food plan.

3. Lean beef

When you're looking for foods to boost your energy as a new mum, seek out iron-rich foods such as lean beef. A deficiency of iron can drain your energy levels, making it hard for you to keep up with the demands of a newborn baby.

Also when you're nursing you need to eat extra protein and vitamin B12. Lean beef is an excellent source of both these nutrients.

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