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Diet & Breastfeeding

Nutritional status of the mother has a direct influence on the quality and quantity of her breastmilk. A breastfeeding mother needs to consume an adequate and balanced diet. There is an extra demand for nutrients, especially to secrete adequate quantity/quality of milk and to safeguard your own health.

1. Get Hydrated

Breastfeeding every 2 to 4 hours can be dehydrating. Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water. Fluids also help to keep up milk production. Consume milk, fruit juices and soups. Reduce caffeine intake by cutting down on coffee, tea, cola and chocolate drinks.

2. DHA

DHA is important for healthy visual and mental development of baby through infancy. DHA from mother’s milk improves psychomotor development and attention. DHA content of breastmilk depends on the mother’s diet.

3. Iron

Iron is required to fulfill the additional demands in breastmilk. Iron rich foods
include pulses and legumes, garden cress seeds, green leafy vegetables, egg, red meat etc.

4. Eat at least 3 Nutritious Meals a Day and Do Not Skip Breakfast

Mothers can get hungry easily while breastfeeding. This is because breastfeeding uses up calories, thus mothers should have 3 regular meals and 2 to 3 light snacks a day as part of their lactation diet. Do not skip meals, particularly breakfast. Some snacking options include fruit smoothies, handful of nuts, veg. rolls, sandwiches, fruit platters, etc.

5. Calcium and Vitamin D

Calcium is important for the normal
development of bones of the growing infant. The best source of calcium is milk & milk products such as yoghurt, cheese, paneer and green leafy vegetables, ragi etc. For Vitamin D, include fatty fish like tuna, salmon and mackerel, egg yolk. Exposure to morning sunlight will also help to meet your vitamin D requirement.

6. Limit foods high

in Sugar and Fat
Cut down on high fat and high sugar foods like potato crisps, chocolates, cakes and soft drinks. These foods are full of “empty” calories and have little nutritional value.

7. Avoid Alcohol & Smoking

Alcohol passes quickly into breast milk and can affect baby. Avoid
smoking and tobacco use.

8. Proteins

During lactation, protein requirement increases to support the rapid growth of the baby. Includes foods like eggs, milk & milk products – cheese, paneer, chicken, fish, pulses and legumes etc. to meet your requirements.

9. Avoid “Dieting” during Breastfeeding

Dieting during breastfeeding might reduce the quantity and quality of your milk. To lose your pregnancy weight, limit the intake of foods that are high in fat and sugar. Try to incorporate some moderate exercises like brisk walking or swimming 3 times a week.

10. Use of Galactogogues

In India, herbs such as methi seeds, jeera, dill (suva) and special preparations such as goand laddu (edible gum), methi laddu, almond halwa, dried ginger (saunth) burfi, & recipes using bajra and green leafy vegetables are recommended for increasing milk production and improve lactation. Herbs and spices like ajwain, fennel (saunf), garlic believed to help in digestion and avoid colic pain in baby while the above mentioned food preparations increase the milk production. However, eat these preparations in moderation as they are high in fat and calories.  

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