Importance of healthy nutrition when breastfeeding: for both of you!
Congratulations on the birth of your baby! Breastfeeding is important not only for your baby but for you as well! Breast milk is the perfect milk for your baby as it covers all his nutritional needs for the first 6 months of life as well as provides him with immunity factors.
As the mother, you will also benefit from this natural phenomena; it will help you get rid of the fat tissues that were stored during pregnancy by using this fat as a source of energy to produce milk. Your body will not only store fat during pregnancy to use in breastfeeding, but will also store other important nutrients such as proteins which are important for milk production and quality. That’s why it is so important to get a varied, healthy balanced diet during both pregnancy and breastfeeding in order to get all the needed nutrients.
Some nutrients’ needs during breastfeeding are increased mainly to account for milk production. They are:
- Calories: Increased by 500 kcal/day of your normal needs
- Protein: Increased by 15gm/day of your normal needs and this translates to two additional servings of meat, legumes, dairy products or eggs
- Vitamin A: Your needs reach to 1200-1300 micrograms/day due to its high secretion in the milk. Its sources are green leafy vegetables and yellowish fruits and vegetables, also found in the kidneys and liver
- Vitamin C: Might reach to 90 milligrams/day due to its high secretion in milk. Rich sources are citrus fruits, mango, melon, strawberries and green peppers
- Calcium and Phosphorous: Multiple pregnancies and lactation would lead to extra amounts of these nutrients needed by the body in order to maintain healthy bones. 1200 milligrams/day is the daily requirement and the best sources are milk and all dairy products
Therefore, a healthy diet is quite important for breastfeeding women as it helps maintain a healthy milk production and composition as well as keeps her body healthy. Low intake of food or going on crash diets during the breastfeeding period can lead to many health complications such as osteoporosis (later in life) and low stores of vitamin A in the body.
So, if you need advice on diet, consult a dietician to give you a personalized diet that takes into consideration your nutritional needs.
Good to know
Did you know that breastfeeding your baby will help you lose those extra kilograms you gained during pregnancy?
Breastfeeding nutrition tips for mothers:
- Consume soups, juices and a minimum of 8 glasses of water daily as they are high in fluids and will facilitate milk production and compensate the loss of fluids from the body
- Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables which are a good source of vitamins, minerals and fibre which your body needs during this phase
- Add high quality protein in your diet like meat, fish and eggs
- Avoid fried and sweet foods as they are low in nutrients and don’t increase milk secretion
- Consume 3 servings of milk and dairy products daily which are good source of protein, calcium and phosphorous
- Eat nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc) in moderation; these are known to be beneficial for women who are breastfeeding as they are full of nutrients but also high in oils and calories
- Avoid foods that might cause discomfort for your baby like cauliflower, broccoli, legumes and spicy foods
- Avoid smoking and alcohol for their negative effect on milk production
- Perform light physical activity after your doctor’s approval
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