Many women are not aware about the ideal diet and feeding practices for breastfeeding mothers. The food you eat during breastfeeding holds a lot of importance. This is due to the reason that they impact the quality of their breast milk. It is essential to learn about specific foods that should be avoided to prevent allergies, and digestive trouble in the baby and foods that should be included to make the right amount, and quality of milk for the baby. In this article, we will tell you about what nutrition does you and your baby requires at every phase of development.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breast feeding is the fundamental requirement for the sound development of your baby. Breast milk has the right amounts of nutrients that nourishes and promotes quick growth of the baby. This milk contains antibodies that improves immune system too. Breast-feeding is also helpful for mothers as it helps in reducing body weight once the baby is delivered.
What To Eat And What To Avoid?
Eating right and healthy in right amounts is very necessary for you and your baby. A breast-feeding mother should be well-aware of all those foods that should be included and excluded from the diet.
1. Stay Hydrated
The first and the most important requirement during breastfeeding is to drink water in every two to four hours. Dehydration can be bad for your health. Consume a minimum of eight to ten glasses of water daily. Fluids help in enhancing the production of milk. In addition to water, you can keep your body hydrated by a few other sources such as milk, unsweetened and freshly prepared fruit juices and soups. Limit your consumption of coffee, carbonated beverages, tea, and chocolate shakes.
2. Iron-rich foods
Iron is a very important nutrient to be present in adequate amounts in breastmilk. Foods rich in iron are legumes, pulses, green leafy vegetables, garden cress seeds, egg, beet root, and watermelon.
3. Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium is an essential component needed for the sound growth of the bones of your baby. The best sources of it are milk and dairy products, leafy greens, cheese, yoghurt, and paneer.
Just like calcium, Vitamin D is another equally important nutrient that helps in the absorption of calcium in the body. So, when you increase the consumption of calcium, you also need more amounts of Vitamin D.
This vitamin boosts immune function, and bone health in a person. Lack of this vitamin can lead to muscle weakness, loss of bone density, and puts you at a high risk of fractures. It can even lead to seizures, weakness in muscles, and rickets. Some of the best sources of this vitamin are morning sunlight, tuna, mackerel, salmon, egg yolk etc.
4. Breakfast and Three Nutritious Meals Daily
Breakfast is very important as it replenishes your system from the long fast of ten-twelve hours. Eating a minimum of three nutritious meals a day provides your body with the right amount of nutrition. In every meal, you should include snacking options such as fruit smoothies, nuts, veg sandwiches, fruit salads, etc.
5. Eat fiber rich food
Fiber serves an important purpose in the body. Eat three servings of fresh dark green vegetables and two servings of fruit daily. It will provide you the necessary amount of dietary fiber required by your body on a daily basis. Inclusion of whole grains like whole wheat bread, cereal, oatmeal, and pasta, in the daily diet is beneficial.
6. Limit sugary, and fat-rich foods
More than permissible levels of fat and sugar are not healthy. It lowers the quality of breast milk. So, ensure that you avoid high sugar, and fat-rich foods such as chocolates, potato crisps, soft drinks, and cakes. These foods are loaded with only calories and have no nutritional value in them.
7. Avoid Alcohol and Smoke
If you have a habit of consuming alcohol, then you should stop it. When consumed, it gets mixed into the blood quite fast and can impact the health of your baby. All varieties of alcohol such as wine, beer, and spirits should be strictly avoided. Your baby lacks the ability to metabolize alcohol so it can harm its health significantly.
8. Essential Nutrients To Include In Diet
Here is the list of nutrients and their sources that are very essential for your baby:
Vitamin B1 or Thiamin: Nuts, fish, seeds, and bread.
Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin: Almonds, nuts, cheese, eggs, and oily fish.
Vitamin B12: Oily fish, Shellfish, and shrimp.
Vitamin B6: Fish, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and bananas.
Choline: Eggs, peanuts, and fish.
Vitamin D: Cod liver oil, fortified foods, and oily fish.
Vitamin A: Sweet potatoes, papaya, leafy greens, carrots and eggs.
Folate: Lentils, beans, leafy greens, and avocados.
Calcium: Milk, cheese, yogurt, legumes, and leafy greens.
Iodine: Milk and iodized salt.
Copper: Whole grains, beans, nuts, and potatoes.
Iron: Seafood, green vegetables, dried fruit, and beans.
Zinc: Dairy products, beans, and nuts.
If your consumption of above nutrients is low, then your body will obtain these nutrients from your tissue stores, and bone to add it into the breast milk. This ensures that the baby gets the adequate amount of nutrition. If you are vegetarian, and could not get the required amounts of vitamins from the diet, then you can even consume supplements for this purpose. Ensure that you consult your doctor before considering supplements.
Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are important element for the skin, central nervous system and eyes in the body. It is mainly available in seafood, that includes algae, and fatty fish. it is also necessary for healthy development and operation of brain.
Omega-3 fatty acids also aid in enhancing vision in babies. Deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids can lead to behavioral issues, that includes ADHD, aggressiveness, and learning disabilities in the baby. Some of the best sources of it are nuts, seeds, fish oils, soya beans, canola oils etc.
10. Cow’s Milk
Some babies are allergic to protein in cow milk and develop symptoms such as rashes, diarrhea, eczema, vomiting or bloody stools. In such a case exclude it from the diet. Once the symptoms subside, again consume cow’s milk for a week and find whether the symptoms reappear. If they do, then it means your baby is allergic to this protein. You need to completely avoid cow’s milk. If they don’t appear, then you can again include it in your diet.
11. Adopt vegetarian diet
As vegetarian diet is healthy and easy to digest, it is mostly advised for pregnant, lactating mothers, and old people. This diet is compatible with breastfeeding. There are several sources in this diet such as beans, fresh fruits, and dried fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, dairy products, legumes, etc. that can provide you adequate amount of daily nutrition.
12. Do not Go On A Diet during Breastfeeding
Dieting at the time of breastfeeding can lower the quality, and quantity of the milk. If you wish to reduce your pregnancy weight, then avoid unhealthy foods, and perform moderate level exercises that includes brisk walk, swimming, and other exercises three to four times a week.
Your doctor may advise you to eat more of protein in your pregnancy as it is crucial for the rapid development of the baby. Foods like milk and milk products, seeds, fish, chicken, eggs, legumes, and pulses etc. are all important to fulfill your dietary requirements. Add them to every meal.
14. Consume Herbs
There are several herbs that are believed to increase the amount of milk production in the lactating mother. These herbs are methi seeds, jeera, dried ginger, etc. Along with it, there are some preparations such as laddu prepared from edible gum, almond halwa, bajra etc. that also improves lactation. Eat them in moderation so that it does not increase fat and sugar content in the body. Include ajwain, saunf, and garlic in your diet as it boosts digestion.
15. Do not consume toxic foods
There are certain types of foods that contains high amounts of mercury in it such as tile fish, shark, king mackerel, and swordfish. Presence of mercury in breastmilk can be very damaging for the mental and physical development of the baby.
16. Do not consume Gas producing and Spicy foods
As whatever you eat, translates into breast milk, and impacts your baby’s health, you need to be very particular of what you eat. Your baby may be intolerant towards foods that are spicy and produces gas in the body. So, it is better to eliminate such foods from the diet.
17. Up Your Calorie Intake
Breastfeeding requires additional calories that is naturally used for the secretion of breast milk. Ideally, a lactating mother requires an additional five hundred to six hundred calories daily. As the baby becomes six months old, your body will be synthesizing less milk and so you can cut down on your calorie consumption.
18. Be cautious with medicines
Whatever medicines you consume in this period, goes to the baby via the milk. So, it is very important to be cautious about what medicines you consume. If you have a severe health condition, then check with your doctor whether the prescribed medicines are fine to consume while breast-feeding the baby.
Note: If you notice that your baby is developing some allergy symptoms, then it indicates that he/ she can be allergic to some foods. These foods can be soy, wheat, cow’s milk, etc. You should keep a note of all those items that brings discomfort to your baby. Try to stop its consumption for some time and bring them back to the diet, to identify the foods that cause allergy to your body. A consultation with the doctor can also prove to be beneficial.
Breast-feeding is entirely different of what you read, and what happens when you actually do it. Many of them can find it challenging. It is a constant learning process. We have compiled a few breast-feeding tips for new mothers that will help them perform this task.
1. Ask for assistance
The first session of breast-feeding takes place within the first hour of delivery. Ask for assistance. You can take help of baby’s doctors in the hospital room to help assist you in performing it. They will teach you the right positioning of the baby so that he/she latches on properly. Take support if you find feeding to be painful or when your baby fails to gain weight.
2. Get comfortable
Sitting with the baby while holding him in arms for several minutes can be tiring as you are not habitual of doing this act. To make it convenient, you can take support of the pillow. Now cradle your baby near to the breast. Do not lean forward to bring your breasts closer to the baby. It can be an inconvenient position and can hurt your back. The right method is to hold the baby skin to skin throughout the breastfeeding duration.
3. Take care of baby’s head
Your baby’s head is very delicate during initial years of development. Place one hand beneath the head of the baby and use the other hand to support the breast. Tickle the lower lip of the baby with the nipple to help baby open his mouth wide. Listen to the sound of swallowing pattern and rhythmic sucking.
4. Gently release the baby
If you want to remove the baby from the breast, then start by inserting your finger into the corner of the baby’s mouth and then release the suction.
5. Allow the baby to set the speed
In the initial weeks, your baby will require breast-feeding after every two hours or three hours. He/she may show some signs of hunger, like restlessness, lip movements, stirring, and sucking motions.
6. Follow the right breastfeeding procedure
Your breast when filled with milk will appear hard and juicy. Let the baby suck milk from the first breast for fifteen minutes. Once done, your breast will look soft. If you find that the baby is still hungry, then start to breastfeed with the second breast. If your baby nurses with a particular breast then, thrust the other breast in order to release pressure and ensure he gets adequate milk supply.
7. Take care of the nipples
Every time you feed; you should allow the milk to dry on the nipple on its own. Presence of milk can soothe the nipples. If you need to go out then pat your breasts to make them dry. Wearing passing bra is advisable.
Change them regularly to avoid hygiene related issues. Reduce exposure of soap, cleansers, and shampoo on the nipples to protect the skin. If you find any crack in your nipples, then treat with good quality moisturizer.
8. Don’t get discouraged
If you find breast-feeding to be difficult than expected, then do not get discouraged. The more you breastfeed, the more perfect you will become. It will also help in increased production of milk.
The amount of nutrition that a lactating mother consumes has a direct impact on the quantity and quality of the breastmilk. Additional nutrients are needed to secrete the right quantity and quality of breastmilk to ensure the best health of baby. Due to which, it is important to consume a well-balanced, calorie-rich and adequate diet with a variety of healthy and nutritious foods. All the above-mentioned dietary and feeding tips will help you plan your diet.
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