Congratulations on having a new baby! Breastfeeding is the best thing a new mom can do to help her baby be healthy. I breastfed both of my children.
The most important thing a lactating mother can do is drink lots of water, juice and milk. I always made sure to have a glass of water near me while I was feeding the baby. That way I could take sips once the baby was nursing comfortably.
Soda has no nutrition -- none. Just don't buy it. Your baby is depending on you.
If you don't like the taste of your water but can't afford to buy bottled water, buy a filter pitcher (Brita and Pur are two well know brands). The filter really does make the water taste better and it is so easy to fill the pitcher and then use the water after it has flowed through the filter.
Nursing mothers need more calories. The key is to focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, salads, soups, lean meats, some cheese and whole grains rather than trying to count calories by themselves.
Moderation is the key to all things. I once made the mistake of eating too many strawberries when a friend bought a huge box for me. That gave my baby digestive issues. There is nothing worse that hearing your baby cry in pain but have no idea what could be wrong. I made a lot of phone calls to my pediatrician.
Chocolate is another potential issue for a nursing baby. You'll need to stay way from the chocolates and cookies that well-meaning friends bring when they come to visit.
Preparing meals can be difficult when you have a new baby. You just get the baby fed, diapered and down for a nap when it is time to do it all over again!
So having healthy snack foods on hand is important. If no one in your family has nut/peanut allergies (check with both sets of relatives), natural almond butter or peanut butter on celery makes a good, quick snack. Hummus (middle eastern spread made from garbanzo beans) on pita bread is good too.
Go easy on spicy foods like salsa. Fried chips are high in fat and low in nutrition. Switch to whole grain breads and cracker when you need a snack.
In talking to our families after my first son was born, I discovered that my husband's family has milk allergies. So I switched to soy and goat's milk. Both are now available at local supermarkets. Be aware that some people are allergic to soy.
If you think there might be an allergy issue, keep a food diary. Mark down what you eat and then keep track of how your baby does after each meal. Sometimes there is a time delay between eating an offending food and the baby reacting. After a few days, you will begin to see a pattern. And, your pediatrician will be happy to discuss your concerns, too. The diary will help.
Best to you!