A mom-to-be's to-do-list usually shows a green checkmark next to ' healthy eating,' but once the baby arrives, the focus on food often fades away. However, if you're a nursing mom, you may want to continue those better eating practices.
Talking on the same, Mahesh Jayaraman, co-founder of Sepalika.com, a Mumbai-based health content platform, told, "With hectic schedules, daily deadlines and lack of proper knowledge, breastfeeding mothers often forget to take care of their diet and overall health."
"Nursing moms may be worried of all the extra pounds that they have gained in a year or so, and, may be tempted to adopt a drastic diet plan to get back to shape. However, going for a drastic diet plan may backfire and in effect, deprive the infant from gaining required nutrients for his/her overall growth and well-being," he added.
A breastfeeding diet isn't much different from the pregnancy diet - with much more relaxed rules. That's because you may be what you eat, but your breast milk isn't so much.
Eating smart is vital to successful breastfeeding. In order to get sufficient nutrition, new mothers should consume a healthy diet and opt for nutrient-dense foods rather than dietary supplements.
"Only in this manner can babies receive nutrition from natural sources, which are critical for their physical and mental growth," Jayaraman noted, adding, "Eating healthy includes consuming healthy fats.
All these nutrients that a mother consumes are transferred to the baby through breast milk. Research shows that babies reared by mothers with this kind of nutrition are the healthiest, since they get the appropriate amounts of fat, fat soluble vitamins and they are able to assimilate proteins better. This is further supported by the principles of Ayurveda and other traditional systems of health."
On the occasion of the ongoing World Breastfeeding Week that ends on August 7, Jayaraman listed down a few nutrition tips that lactating mothers should consider in their daily diet habits:
1) Cod liver oil:
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, cod liver oil has several benefits for the breastfeeding mother and her infant. Two teaspoons of high vitamin cod liver oil or cod liver soft gel capsules if consumed every day gives 10,000-20,000 IU Vitamin A and 2000 IU Vitamin D. As cod liver oil is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, breastfeeding moms can balance this by consuming food items rich in Omega-6, but in smaller quantities. Arachidonic acid (ARA), an omega-6 fatty acid is found in liver, egg yolks, meat fats, flaxseeds, pumpkin, avocados and walnuts.
2) Coconut oil:
Nursing moms should use coconut oil for cooking or make at least 2 tablespoons of the oil a part of their daily diet. It has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties that can give the baby extra protection from deadly viruses and bacteria. Avoid highly processed / hydrogenated vegetable oils; mothers often resort to these oils right after pregnancy days, to shed those extra kilos. This can be a very bad idea, as mothers need to consume saturated fats, in order to provide the baby with the right type of nutrition.
3) Clarified butter:
Consuming four tablespoons of butter or ghee daily, preferably from pasture-fed cows can help to strengthen the immune system, aid in better digestion and increase absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals from other foods.
Often low milk supply is a constant cause of worry for breastfeeding mothers. One litre of whole, full fat milk daily from pasture-fed cows can act as a magic potion to increase breast milk supply.
Eggs are a rich source of protein and nursing moms can consume two or more whole eggs daily, preferably from chickens that are pasture-raised. Once again, don't make the mistake of going for just the egg whites. Have the whole egg, yolks included. In fact, yolks are the critical part of nutrition for the nursing mother.
6) Curd/ Lassi:
A healthy protein and good dose of probiotics can be obtained from good quality curd, lassi, etc. made from whole-fat organic milk.
7) Whole grains:
Easy to digest and high on nutrients, soaked and sprouted whole grains can be used as part of the daily diet by nursing moms.
8) Fruits and vegetables:
While consuming fruits and vegetables, buy organic produce that are free of harmful chemicals and pesticides. Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals, folic acid and fibre and are valuable in preventing Vitamin A and C deficiencies.
9) Fenugreek seeds:
Fenugreek seeds/leaves are a source of healthy vitamins and minerals that promotes lactation. Nursing mothers can consume sprouted fenugreek seeds to reduce the bitterness and increase the benefits. Also, include traditional foods like gondh laddus as they provide essential nutrients to help the mother regain her strength and provide adequate milk for her child.
10) Things to avoid:
Avoid junk foods, sugar, white flour, soft drinks, caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes as much as possible. Also, do not resort to prescription drugs during this period. All these can hamper breast milk production and can also prove harmful for the baby's health.
11) Continue breastfeeding your child even during illness:
Even if your baby is unwell, do not stop breastfeeding. Through the simple act of suckling at the mother's breast, the baby's body sends messages to the mother, via the saliva, of what nutrients and antibodies he/she needs to fight the infection. The mother's body then makes these antibodies and supplies the additional nutrients needed to the child in subsequent feeds. For the same reason, physical nursing should be preferred over use of expressed milk.