A Lactation Diet for New Moms

15Jun

There is no doubt that breastfeeding benefits babies. However, it is also beneficial for mothers’ health.

Breast milk is optimally nutrient-dense and digestible for infants. It contains enzymes and antibodies essential for the baby’s growth and development. Moreover, they protect babies against chronic diseases in the late part of life. Think that infections and allergies stay away from babies with nutritious milk.

However, for babies to consume good milk, it becomes essential that mothers are healthy. Who doesn’t want the babies to be healthy?

To a mother, it can help reduce postpartum bleeding by contracting the uterus. With other benefits, such as reducing the risk of diabetes and ovarian and breast cancers, you, as a mother,  must breastfeed.

What’s more than this is the hormonal response triggered by breastfeeding, thus allowing mothers to bond well with their babies, which is essential.

Therefore, there is a need for nutritious milk for both. Eating the right food will help produce a healthy milk supply. Let’s learn what you should be doing as you read further.

 

Also read: Pregnancy Nutrition: Nurturing Your Growing Baby Bump for Each Trimester

 

You must increase the calories during lactation.

When you are pregnant, the changes in hormones prepare your mammary glands for producing and secreting milk, a process called lactation. During this time, a hormone called prolactin helps in milk production, and the oxytocin hormone aids in releasing the milk. So, as long as you breastfeed, this process will continue, ensuring your baby receives the essential nutrients it needs. For mothers seeking additional guidance on optimizing their nutrition for lactation, consulting a Lactation Nutritionist can be a valuable resource.

But why do you need to consume more calories during this time? 

When you consume at least 300 to 500 calories more during this period, you’ll have enough energy to sustain yourself as demand increases. Consuming additional calories doesn’t mean you can eat anything, but you must consume nutrient-dense foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and proteins.

 

Nutritional recommendation on breastfeeding

 

What are the essential Nutritional guidelines for lactating mothers?

Here are some dietary recommendations for breastfeeding mothers:

 

1. Proteins

 

Proteins

Both mothers and babies need protein, as it repairs tissue, helps grow tissues, and supports milk production. You may consume lean proteins from foods such as seeds, nuts, legumes, poultry, meat, dairy, and fish.

 

2. Calcium

 

Calcium-1

The bone density of the baby is supported by calcium intake. The more calcium you consume, the more beneficial it is to keep the baby’s bones healthy. So, you must consume yogurt, cheese, and milk. You can also eat almonds, leafy vegetables, and tofu to get enough calcium if you are allergic to dairy products.

 

3. Iron

 

Iron-1

When you give birth to a child, you will have lost blood. Consuming more iron from your diet can help you produce enough hemoglobin, which is essential to carrying oxygen in the blood. You can get iron from spinach, cereals, dried fruits, fish, and poultry.

 

4. Omega 3 fatty acids

 

Omega 3 fatty acids

Babies’ brain and eye development can improve with omega-3 fatty acids; it can help elevate the mood for a mother. If you are a non-vegetarian, you can obtain this from fish, and a non-vegetarian or a vegan can rely on flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts for omega-3 fatty acids.

 

5. Vitamin D

 

Vitamin D 

If you have a good amount of vitamin D in your body, you can improve calcium absorption, improving your bones’ health. Infants rely on a mother for the vitamin D source, and hence, a mother must consume plenty of vitamin D. Sunlight freely gives you vitamin D when you are exposed to it; alternatively, foods such as eggs, fish, and dairy products can also give you the essential vitamin D.

 

6. Fluids

 

Fluids 

There is no denying that fluids aid in good blood circulation, digestion, and maintaining your body’s temperature. The more fluid you intake, the better your body’s functioning. On the other hand, a baby relies only on milk as a food; drinking water can help produce enough milk and maintain its volume and supply.

All the essential nutrients in your body can reach the mammary glands when you hydrate yourself, ensuring that the milk has all those nutrients in your body. To keep yourself hydrated, you can intake broth-based soups, water, herbal teas, and milk.

 

7. Folate

 

Folate

Cell growth, synthesis, and DNA are well promoted with folate, a vitamin B form. You can prevent future tube defects during pregnancies by consuming enough folate, which is good for a mother’s health. Beans, cereals, citrus fruits, whole grains, lentils, and leafy green vegetables can offer you a good amount of folate.

 

8. Vitamin A

 

Vitamin A

Your infant’s immunity, vision, and growth can be improved with vitamin A, so you must incorporate vitamin A into your diet so that your baby can consume it adequately. Lettuce, fish, yogurt, butter, eggs, and cheese are ways to consume vitamin A

 

9. Vitamin C

 

Vitamin C

Vitamin C heals the wound faster by quickly restoring the tissue. It can also boost the immune system and help the mother and the baby fight infections. Therefore, you can intake the vitamin C from bell peppers, tomatoes, citrus fruits, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower.

 

Dietary Considerations for Special Needs

If you follow different diets, such as vegan or vegetarian, you might need more essential nutrients, and you may need to supplement them. 

Calcium: Vegetarians can get calcium mainly from milk, whereas vegans can consume foods such as dark leafy greens, orange juice, beans, and soy products. The quantity might not suffice; a supplement may be needed.

 

Calcium

Vitamin D: The sun is a free source of vitamin D, but long exposure might damage the skin. Vegetarians can also get it from dairy products such as cheese, whereas vegans can rely on soy milk and orange juice. Supplements are needed for sufficient amounts.

Omega 3 fatty acids: Both vegans and vegetarians can get a sufficient amount of them from hempseeds, walnuts, and flaxseeds.

 

Omega 3 fatty acids

Iron: Both vegans and vegetarians can rely on food such as whole grains, mushrooms, leafy green vegetables, tofu, bread, and cereals

 

IRON-RICH-FOODS-1

 

Food Allergies and Sensitivities

Those who are allergic to specific foods and have sensitivities must check these steps before following any diet for themselves:

  1. Test and eliminate: Test and trial those foods you think are harmful to you so that you can completely avoid their consumption
  2. Find alternatives: Find alternatives for the foods you are allergic to. For instance, if you are allergic to dairy, you can also get calcium from leafy green vegetables.
  3. Supplements: For those that need an amount of nutrients that you may not have due to diet restrictions, you can rely on supplements to take in additional nutrients.
  4. Consult a dietician: To get a proper meal plan that considers your allergies and provides a balanced diet, you can consult a dietician.
  5. Prepare meals: You can prepare good meals at home to avoid food contamination that may not be compatible with your allergies.
  6. Carefully read labels: Before you eat, read the labels to find out what you are allergic to.

Myths about breastfeeding diet

Here are some misconceptions that are hovering around the breastfeeding diet:

Myth 1: Eating plain food, You might have heard people advise eating plain food while breastfeeding. It need not be; mothers need to be involved in a balanced diet, like any other.

Myth 2: Breastfeeding doesn’t have all the nutrients

The colostrum in milk has all the essential nutrients needed for a baby.

Myth 3: You should avoid certain foods to prevent fussy babies.

What you consume will not hurt the baby; they will get used to the type of food your family eats, as the milk flavor changes based on what you eat. But it’s not true that it will make them fussy.

 

Wrapping Up

There are a lot of myths around, of which a mother isn’t entirely aware of the correct facts and is often confused with the choices. What you eat is what your baby will have, not from the moment it comes out of the womb but ever since it is there. Therefore, as long as a mother is healthy, the baby will be too, as it consumes food from a mother. Thus, having a balanced diet is very crucial.

If you’ve been in this dilemma, let Fitness with Nidhi help you with the right nutritional guidelines for lactating mothers. These guidelines will help both you and your child stay healthy.

Nidhi Gupta is an ACE certified personal trainer and nutritionist with over 10 years of experience helping people reach their fitness goals. She is passionate about helping people live healthier lives and loves sharing her knowledge and expertise with others. Get in touch with her to learn more about how she can help you on your fitness journey.