Breastfeeding Nutrition

Food for a Breastfeeding Mother – A Nutritionist’s View

It is often a topic of debate for all new mothers of what to eat and what to avoid consuming while you are breastfeeding your baby! Well, if you listen to your grannies, there will be a strict list of Do’s and Don’ts. And the answers provided vary from family to family, culture and religion. Thus, taking nutrition tips from a nutritionist seems to be the best solution to save you from all the confusion.

Understanding Lactation and Breastfeeding

Lactation is the process of milk production by the mammary glands that are present within the fatty tissue of the breast. From the second trimester of the pregnancy, the mammary glands are prepared for milk secretion under the influence of hormones. Milk is secreted when there is stimulus.

The lactating mother requires adequate nutrition to enable synthesis of breast milk. Mothers generally produce mire milk in the first 6 months. This reduces with the introduction of complimentary foods.

A well balanced diet should be consumed by mothers ensuring that all the nutrient requirements are met through appropriate selection of foods which thus determines the content of a mother’s milk.

Emphasis must be on:

  • Whole grains
  • High fiber fruits
  • Fibrous vegetables
  • Adequate fluid

Remember : The main thing to maintain ample milk supply is, the more regularly the baby nurses, the more milk will the mother have!

Refined Food

Food a Breastfeeding Mother Needs to Avoid :

  • Refined foods
  • Packaged foods
  • Starchy vegetables
  • Aerated drinks
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Food allergens : Check on dairy, wheat, oats or nuts
  • Gas producing foods – Cabbage, cauliflower, peas, onions

Food a Breastfeeding Mother Needs to Ensure :

  1. Well balanced diet comprising of complex carbohydrates like jowar, bajra, whole wheat, oats , dalia ,red rice, dals and pulses
  2. Lean protein like egg whites, skim milk, skim paneer, skim curd, chicken and fish
  3. Fibrous fruits like papaya or apple
  4. Veggies such as leafy greens, and less starchy such as lady finger, gourds, french beans and brinjal.
  5. Calcium rich foods : Beans, broccoli, almonds, turnip, green leafy veggies, tofu, dairy foods.
  6. Iron rich foods : Soybeans, prunes, lentils, spinach, kidney beans, pumpkin seeds
  7. B12 rich foods : Yogurt, eggs, salmon
  8. Vitamin C rich foods : Green leafy veggies, broccoli, bell peppers, papaya, parsley
  9. Drink water, milk and vegetable juices
  10. Plan your meals rather than just eating randomly at odd hours
  11. Light to moderate exercise is a good idea

A Sample Food Plan for Healthy Breastfeeding:

Breakfast : Oat porridge with skim milk

Mid morn : Apple + glass skim milk

Lunch : Jowar roti + 1 bowl dal  Or 1 bowl red rice + kidney beans + 1 bowl spinach ( add lime for better iron absorption ) + buttermilk

Evening 1 : Carrot juice + 5 almonds

Evening 2 : Nachni porridge egg white roll

Pre dinner : Broccoli soup

Dinner : Bowl veggies + skim paneer/ chicken + bowl skim curd + 1 chilla- bajra/ oat

Note : The above plan is generic!! And it may defer with individual requirements depending on body type, lifestyle, activity levels and food allergies if any!

Message from the Expert :

  1. Avoid foods that the mother is allergic to (keep a food journal)
  2. Observe if eating any foods is creating trouble for the baby like colic- avoid them!
  3. Don’t be impatient to lose weight and opt for quick fixes
  4. Motherhood is a beautiful journey, Enjoy it with being wise and taking appropriate steps to get back into shape.
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