The nutritional link between the mother and the child continues even after birth. The newborn baby solely depends on breast milk for 6 months. Lactating mother’s nutritional requirement should meet her own daily needs and must provide enough nutrients for the growing infant. The better mom eats, the healthier and happier both mom and baby will be.
Tips For Better Nutrition
Choose Quality Protein
Make sure you eat a good, balanced diet with quality protein. Always include protein rich options in your daily diet, like – eggs, nuts and seeds, yoghurt, soy products, lentils, beans, quinoa, milk, turkey, chicken etc.
Calcium is necessary for healthy bones and teeth. You need to get enough calcium while you’re breastfeeding to replace what is taken from your body and given to your baby. Dairy products, orange juice, green leafy vegetables, almonds, figs, broccoli, guava, soy foods, chia seeds, sesame seeds, ragi or finger millet are good sources of calcium.
Vitamin D helps your body to absorb the calcium and phosphorus from your diet, and it’s also very important for the healthy growth of your baby’s bones and teeth. You can get vitamin D from the sunlight. However, sufficient sun exposure is difficult for many people to achieve. Food sources are – salmon, sardines, tuna, eggs, mushroom, oysters and foods fortified with vitamin D such as cereals, orange juice, milk, and yogurt.
The body needs it for healthy growth and development, wound healing, immune function, and many other things. Food sources are-meat, dairy products, vegetables, beans, legumes, shellfish, nuts, seeds, whole grains.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is necessary for the growth, development and repair of all body tissues. It’s involved in many body functions, including formation of collagen, absorption of iron, the immune system, wound healing, and the maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth. Food sources of vitamin C such as orange, kiwi, lemon, guava, grapefruit, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, blueberries, Brussel sprouts, bell peppers, cantaloupe and strawberries, mangoes etc.
Folate (folic acid) is a B vitamin that helps to prevent congenital disabilities and is needed for the proper health and development of your baby. Food sources include citrus fruits, fortified whole grain bread and cereal, dark leafy green vegetables, beans, peas, lentils, asparagus, eggs, beets, brussel sprouts, bananas, avocado, okra etc.
Vitamin A is necessary for healthy growth and development, especially of the eyes and skin. Sources of vitamin A – orange, yellow, red fruits and vegetables, dark leafy green vegetables, dairy products.
Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
DHA supports the development of your baby’s brain and eyes. You can find DHA in salmon, sardines, herring, eggs, tuna, cod liver oil, DHA fortified foods, beverages and supplements etc.
Iron helps your body to make new red blood cells so you can keep your energy level up. Get enough iron in your diet by eating meat, fish, liver, beans, leafy green vegetables, nuts, eggs, and whole grains. To help your body absorb iron, eat iron-rich foods with foods high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits.
Always include good fats, in the form of avocado, coconuts, nuts or seeds, peanut butter or almond butter. It will be beneficial for you because good fats always help in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like – A, D, E, K.
Drink Plenty of Water
Hydration is vital to nursing moms. An adequate intake of fluids is necessary for adequate milk production. In fact, your ability to supply milk can be impaired if you’re dehydrated.
Certain Foods and Drinks Deserve Caution While You’re Breast feeding
Caffeine in your breast milk might agitate your baby or interfere with your baby’s sleep. It is recommended that caffeine containing beverages be limited to 2 cups per day for the lactating women. Chocolate, though it contains small amount of caffeine, but it does contain theobromide, a stimulant similar to caffeine. Theobromide can cause the infant to become irritable, and thus should be limited in mother’s diet.
Not drinking alcohol is the safest option for breastfeeding mothers. Generally, moderate alcohol consumption by a breastfeeding mother (up to 1 standard drink per day) is not known to be harmful to the infant, especially if the mother waits for at least 2 hours after a single drink before nursing. However, exposure to alcohol above moderate levels through breast milk could be damaging to an infant’s development, growth, and sleep patterns. Consuming more than one drink per day is not recommended.
There’s no level of alcohol in breast milk that’s considered safe for a baby. If you drink, avoid breast-feeding until the alcohol has completely cleared from your breast milk, because, alcohol can be found in your breast milk.
Seafood can be a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Most seafood contains mercury or other contaminants. Exposure to excessive amounts of mercury through breast milk can pose a risk to a baby’s developing nervous system. To limit your baby’s exposure, avoid seafood that’s high in mercury, including swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.
Processed foods are quick and easy to prepare especially when you have a baby. But these foods contain preservatives and additives that are toxic for the baby. Additives can also cause colic in the baby and allergies. Your baby can also turn fussy.
How Harmful Is Smoking While Breast Feeding?
Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for a newborn baby. But the safest breast milk doesn’t have harmful chemicals from cigarettes or e-cigarettes.
Smoking increases the baby’s risk for :
Smoking not only transmits harmful chemicals to your baby via your breast milk, it can also affect a new mother’s milk supply. This might cause her to produce less milk.
Other effects associated with smoking and milk supply include:
- Babies of women who smoke are more likely to experience altered sleep patterns and are more susceptible in the development of allergy-related diseases like asthma.
- Nicotine present in breast milk can lead to behavioral changes in a baby like crying more than usual and other health problems.