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How to Read Nutrition Labels for Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

How to Read Nutrition Labels for Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Posted by Kristy Manners & Kelly Northey on 30th Aug 2021

With food companies so often covering their packaging in an assortment of health claims, it can be quite confusing to determine whether a product is healthy or not! ⁠

This is especially true in the world of lactation support products where there are now numerous businesses marketing every day convenience food and beverage products with the addition of one or two milk boosting 'galactagogues' as health foods when they are in fact far from healthy options for mums!
Not only do lactation support products need to be made full of wholesome ingredients containing plenty of these age old galactagogues, it's as equally important that these ingredients be as natural and unrefined as possible as well as being low in sugar or even better low in unrefined sugars, low sodium and high in fibre.

To help us better understand how to read nutritional labels during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, we asked qualified, Accredited Practising Dietitian and Lactation Coach Kristy Manners from Growth Spectrum to provide the following easy tips to ensure the products you're purchasing are truly healthy and nutritious enough to support the good nutrition that's so important to both you and your baby's health during breastfeeding.

  • Read the ‘per 100g’ column when comparing foods. ⁠
  • Check if the serving size is the same as what your portion size would be. Serving sizes may be smaller for more energy dense foods. Take this into account when analysing the nutrient content! ⁠
  • ⁠During pregnancy and lactation your protein requirements are higher (60g during pregnancy and 67g during lactation). Look out for protein rich foods to help meet your needs. 
  • It is common for packaged foods to contain additional sugars. Opting for less than 15g per 100g of sugar is best. Other names for added sugar to look out for are: Dextrose, fructose, glucose, golden syrup, honey, maple syrup, sucrose, malt, maltose, lactose, brown sugar, caster sugar, maple syrup, raw sugar, sucrose. 
  • Like sugar, sodium may also be higher in packaged foods. Aim for less than 120mg per 100g. Other names for salt ingredients include: Baking powder, celery salt, garlic salt, meat/yeast extract, monosodium glutamate, (MSG), onion salt, rock salt, sea salt, sodium, sodium ascorbate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium nitrate/nitrite, stock cubes, vegetable salt.
  • ⁠Ingredients are listed from highest to lowest by weight. Avoid foods that list saturated fat, added sugar or sodium first. 
  • Fibre is a vital nutrient for new mamas! Although not all labels will include fibre. Choose foods with more than 3g per serve. 
  • Aim for less than 3g of fat in total per 100g and less than 1.5g of saturated fats per 100g. Other names for saturated fat ingredients may include: Animal fat/oil, beef fat, butter, chocolate, milk solids, coconut, coconut oil/milk/cream, copha, cream, ghee, dripping, lard, suet, palm oil, sour cream, vegetable shortening. 


Our Products vs Other Commonly Found Supermarket Products

What Ingredients Do We Need to Know About?

In addition to comparing nutritional panels in this way, it is also still vitally important to ensure the ingredients in your lactation support products are healthy in themselves too. Using the case of Lactation Hot Chocolate again, this is a guide to the key points to keep in mind.

Don't be fooled by marketing again, once you've learnt to read nutritional panels and are aware of what constitutes better choice ingredients and understand how they compare to one another, it does get quicker and easier with practice to sort out which products are best for the overall health of both yourself and your baby (or your family as a whole too)!