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Breastfeeding is an essential part of motherhood. It is considered to be the ideal bonding time between the mother and child. It has several benefits both for the mother and baby. It is important to eat healthy while breastfeeding. A nursing mother will need to ensure the intake of the right diet, so that the milk that reaches the baby is highly nutritious.
Importance Of Breastfeeding
You might have heard and seen plenty of new mothers who struggle with breastfeeding. Lactation experts are usually available who guide a new mother about how to enhance the milk supply, such that the baby is never deprived of the nutrients that he/she requires, especially during the first six months of his or her life.
Breast milk is composed of all the nutrients, except vitamin D (Now you know why your pediatrician would have asked you to give your breastfed baby the vitamin D drops).
Tips On The Diet That A Mother Should Follow While Breastfeeding
• A breastfeeding mother requires an additional 500 kcal in her diet. The healthy eating policy that a breastfeeding mother was following during her pregnancy days should be continued during the breastfeeding phase as well.
• The breastfeeding mother's diet should consist of foods rich in protein such as whole grains, pulses, dried fruits, cereals, vegetables, fresh fruits, chicken and eggs.
• Alcohol and aerated drinks should be strictly avoided.
• It is important to stay well hydrated. Increase the intake of fresh fruit juices, lime juice, buttermilk and tender coconut.
• The statement "Increasing the intake of ghee would increase breast milk production" is a myth. There are no proven results for this. It is wise to consume ghee in moderate amounts.
• Breastfeeding mothers should continue taking the iron and calcium supplements at least up to 3 months post delivery.
• Although not counted as food, water is of utmost importance for everyone and surely the one that boosts the supply of breast milk for a lactating mother. At least, 8 glasses of water is essential.
• Oats when consumed by a nursing mother is said to reduce cholesterol and regulate blood pressure. It also increases the supply of breast milk.
• Garlic not just enhances the taste of various dishes, but also boosts the milk supply.
• Storehouses of beta-carotene, carrots are a must for all nursing mothers.
• Beans are a great source of iron and protein. You might get a little gassy after eating beans, but it does not pass through breast milk, so it won't make your baby colicky.
• Dark, green leafy vegetables such as spinach are highly nutritious and also rich in calcium. This is perfect to be consumed, especially by vegan mothers.
• According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a baby's brain development requires about 200 to 300 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per day. Seafood is considered to be the prime sources of omega-3 fatty acids. In case you are a vegetarian or allergic to fish, you can opt for a daily supplement.
• For vegans or vegetarians, who do not incorporate meat, fish, chicken or dairy products in their daily diet, the nursing mother can ensure the intake of vitamin B12 through supplements.
Nutrient-dense food that every lactating mother can opt for
• Seafood and fish
• Meat (especially organ meats such as liver)
• Almonds, flax seeds, walnuts and chia seeds
• Berries, tomatoes, broccoli, kale and cabbage
• Potatoes, quinoa and dark chocolate
Foods to avoid while breastfeeding
• Alcohol can get into your breast milk, although in minimum amounts, yet to play safe, it is suggested that you consume, say just one glass of alcohol after you have nursed the baby. You should ideally wait for one or two hours before you breastfeed your baby after drinking alcohol.
• Your coffee or tea intake should not be more than three cups per day.
• Stay away from high-mercury fishes such as shark, tilefish, swordfish and king mackerel. These might have adverse effects on the baby's brain development.
• Peppermint, sage and parsley are considered anti-galactagogues that can decrease in your breast milk supply.
It is important to know that post delivery, your body might hold on to the fat for a few months, especially the first three months. This is because breastfeeding increases your appetite and energy demands. Restricting on the calorie intake or indulging in weight loss strategies could result in a low milk supply. It is better to avoid processed foods when nursing, as they are extremely high in unhealthy calories, fats and contain added sugars.
In general, it is recommended that a breastfeeding mother should continue eating healthy, which would include the food that suits her and exclude the ones that she is allergic to. A healthy, nutritious and balanced diet is essential for the lactating mother, so that it is ensured that she gets the extra 500 kcal through food sources that are nutrient rich.