Postpartum health tips: Essential nutrition every breastfeeding mother needs
There is no one ‘perfect’ diet for breastfeeding mothers but there are some general guidelines that can help you acquire the nutrients you and your baby require during postpartum. Here are some tips for eating healthy while breastfeeding
Breastfeeding mothers naturally give nutrients to the baby, which promote its growth and health but there always remains a concern among mothers about whether their diet during postpartum will affect the quantity and quality of the lactation and the baby’s health. Health experts insist that the mother’s milk will be just right for the baby regardless of her diet, as it is natural for the body to know what nutrition the baby needs during the development stage but there is certain essential nutrition that every breastfeeding mother needs.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Praveen Kumar, Dentist and founder of Care Redefined, revealed, “One major part of a breastfeeding mother's diet should be protein-rich foods like dairy products, beans, nuts, pulses and seeds. Dark green and yellow vegetables, fruits and whole grains like whole wheat bread and oatmeal also work as wonder nutrition for the nursing mothers. For vegetarians, some good sources of iron and zinc are dry fruits, nuts, and seeds. Mothers who entirely avoid animal products should opt to take B12 supplements to make sure that the baby does not develop its deficiency.”
Bringing her expertise to the same, Dietitian Vidhi Chawla, Founder of Fisico Diet Clinic, shared, “For well-nourished breastfeeding women, an extra 500 kilocalories per day is advised over what we usually consume before pregnancy. Micronutrients such as Vitamin E, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Zinc and Selenium which can be found in meat, eggs and fish and in plant-based products such as legumes and grain-based products and so on, must be considered. We should go for supplements if not able to cover up with the diet. It is also critical to properly hydrate ourselves as proper hydration is very important for the good quality of milk.”
Insisting that there is no one “perfect” diet for breastfeeding mothers but there are some general guidelines that can help you acquire the nutrients you and your baby require, Nutritionist Sapna Jaysingh Patel, Founder of Health Before Wealth, listed some tips for eating healthy while breastfeeding:
1. Eat a variety of whole foods, including plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
2. Choose lean protein sources such as chicken, fish, tofu or legumes.
3. Limit processed foods, sugary drinks and saturated fats.
4. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water or unsweetened beverages.
She also highlighted some specific nutrients that breastfeeding mothers should consume:
1. Protein - Breast milk is made up of about 80% water and 20% solids, including fat, carbohydrates and protein. Protein provides the building blocks for your baby’s growth and development, so it’s important to consume enough when you’re breastfeeding. Good sources of protein include lean meats, poultry, fish, legumes, eggs and dairy products.
2. Fat - Fat is an important source of energy for both you and your baby. It also helps absorb certain vitamins and minerals and provides the building blocks for cell membranes and hormones. Breast milk contains about 50% fat, so it’s important to consume enough fatty acids when you’re breastfeeding. Good sources of fat include avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, flax seeds and fish.
3. Carbohydrates - Carbohydrates are another important source of energy for both you and your baby. They also help promote a healthy gut microbiome and provide the building blocks for breast milk. Good sources of carbohydrates include whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes.
4. Vitamins and minerals - Breastfeeding mothers need to consume adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals, including iron, calcium, iodine and vitamin D. Good sources of these nutrients include dark leafy greens, citrus fruits, tomatoes, broccoli, lean meat, seafood, tofu, nuts and seeds.
If you’re concerned about your diet or nutrition, talk to your nutritionist. They can help you create a healthy eating plan that meets your needs and those of your baby.