DIET DURING LACTATION
Lactation is an equally important phase of a woman’s life as pregnancy since in the first few months of life, the infant derives all his nutrition from the mother’s milk. As the mother has to nourish a fully developed and rapidly growing infant, she needs extra nutrients to meet the bay’s need in addition to her own requirements. If the mother’s diet is not sufficient to fulfil the quantity and quality of milk requirement for growing infant, then the mother draws on her own reserves to meet the needs of lactation at the cost of her own health.
It is therefore, of extreme importance to provide adequate nutrition during lactation so that the mother is not only able to provide sufficient quantity and quality of milk for growing infant, but is also able to maintain her own health and nutritional status.
Dietary guidelines for Lactating Mother
During lactation, please ensure the intake of foods that rich in iron, protein and calcium in your diet.
Good sources of iron include dried beans and peas, lentils, enriched cereals, whole-grain products, dark leafy green vegetables, and dried fruit. To help your body absorb iron, eat iron-rich foods in combination with foods high in vitamin C, such as strawberries, citrus fruits, sweet bell peppers or tomatoes.
For protein, consider eggs and dairy products or plant sources, such as soy products and meat substitutes, legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Good sources of calcium include dairy products and dark green vegetables. Other options include calcium-enriched and -fortified products, such as juices, cereals, soy milk, soy yogurt and tofu.
Drink plenty of water to maintain the milk supply. Water is a major constituent of breastmilk. Therefore ensure that you drink at least 10-12 glasses of water every day. You can also consume fruit and vegetable juices, lassi, buttermilk, coconut water etc. in addition to water. This will help your body to produce the milk you need for your baby.
Avoid alcohol as it is not at all safe for the baby.
Avoid drinking more than 2 to 3 cups (16 to 24 ounces) of caffeinated drinks a day. Remember, caffeine in your breast milk might agitate your baby or interfere with your baby’s sleep.
Nicotine from cigarettes and drugs also pass into your breastmilk and should be avoided.
If you are used to having aerated drinks to quench your thirst it is best to avoid these while lactating as they contain just empty calories and no nutrition.