Does diet influence lactation?
Mother’s milk is considered the elixir for babies, but the real magic lies in the diet. Lactating mothers often find themselves in situations where ten people recommend ten things, which leads to chaos and uncertainty. Therefore, it becomes all the more important to know what to eat and what not to eat throughout the lactation period. Dietician and lactation specialist, Gurleen Kaur, advises to indulge in nutritious food for better lactation.
Portion size: does it matter?
Lactation consultant in Delhi, Gurleen Kaun says, “not just food, but portions play a vital role in our everyday meals as well. As the appetite increases, it is advised to have five meals throughout the day.” AllLactation consultant in Delhi say that breast milk production is physically taxing and necessitates additional calories as well as increased quantities of particular nutrients. In fact, it’s estimated that the energy needs during breastfeeding increase by about 20 percent per day. The need for specific nutrients, including protein, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, B12, selenium, and zinc, goes up as well.Be mindful you include:
- Three servings of protein
- Five servings of calcium-rich food
- Foods high in iron: one or more servings
- Four servings of vitamin C
- Green leafy and yellow vegetables, as well as yellow fruits: 3 to 4 servings
- Additional fruits and vegetables: one or more servings
- Three or more servings of whole grains and other concentrated complex carbohydrates
- High-fat foods: small amounts – you don’t need as much as you did during pregnancy.
- Nine cups water, juice, or other non-caffeinated and non-alcoholic beverages
- DHA-rich foods to promote baby’s brain growth
Go gaga over desi food
Some breastfeeding moms also try eating different foods to increase milk production. While there’s enough literature on the internet about exotic options like basil, brewer’s yeast, etc., there’s not enough knowledge about desi foods. Not many know that everyday items such as chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, soya foods, pulses, and dairy food are great options available at home. While everyone stresses about food, we generally give fluids a miss. A liberal intake of fluids is required besides plain water. Juices, soups, dals, buttermilk, lassi, coconut water, etc., not only increase the production of milk but also aid in maintaining the fluid balance in the body.
- If you are bored of regular protein, vitamin, and mineral rich foods, you can try desi recipes like: lehsuni roti, vegetable broth soup, seed laddoos, etc.
- Include all food groups in your everyday diet. These groups are cereals, pulses, ghee-oil, sugar, jaggery, vegetables, fruits, milk and its products, and condiments.
- Green leafy vegetables, black sesame seeds (til), raisins, jaggery, poha, pomegranates, and other iron-rich foods should be consumed in greater quantities.
- Increase your calcium intake by eating more dairy products, white sesame seeds (til), ragi, guava, bajra, and other calcium-rich foods. One litre of milk consumed daily in any form, such as curd, yoghurt, paneer, etc., provides all of the calcium and high-quality protein required.
- Don’t put any restrictions on your diet. Include 3–4 nutritious meals. Discard any notions of ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ foods.
Let’s break some myths
There are various myths associated with lactation. Let’s debunk them – one at a time.
Myth 1: Lactation will make you lose weight
One of the most common myths is that lactation will cause the weight you acquired during pregnancy to fall off naturally. However, this is not the case for everyone. Many people find that they hold on to a little bit of weight while they’re nursing. Lactating mothers are frequently hungry and may eat more.
Trying to lose weight too soon after giving birth can potentially put your milk supply in jeopardy. Before attempting to reduce weight, wait at least two months for your milk supply to stabilise. Because significantly reducing calories or abruptly dropping weight can affect your milk supply, aim for progressive weight loss of no more than 4–5 pounds each month.
Myth 2: Consumption of citrus food or fruit can curdle the mother’s milk
There are several beliefs claiming that citrus food or fruit can curdle the mother’s milk, while the acidic quality of citrus fruit causes acidity in the new-born or imparts a tangy flavour to the milk. But the fact is citrus fruits are high in Vitamin C, flavonoids, and fibre, and eating them can instantly improve your mood, refresh you, and supply necessary nutrients. Vitamin C helps wounds heal faster, improves gastrointestinal function, and gives you more energy. Because the body does not produce vitamin C on its own, it must be consumed on a daily basis.
It is recommended that a breastfeeding woman should eat three to four fruits every day, two of which should be citrus fruits.
Myth 3: It’s not a good idea to drink caffeine when breastfeeding
Caffeine isn’t off-limits when breastfeeding, which is great news for women who like a cup of coffee. According to studies, just about 1% of the caffeine you consume ends up in your breast milk.
If you wish to drink caffeine, you can have up to 200 milligrammes per day (about two 8-ounce cups of coffee). Just make sure to include all sources of caffeine in your daily caffeine limit, such as:
- Coffee and tea.
- Caffeinated soda
- Chocolate and cocoa powder
- Some pain relievers
Also, experts note that younger babies are more sensitive to caffeine in breast milk. If you’re taking caffeine and your baby is having trouble sleeping after breastfeeding, it’s possible that you’re overdoing it.
Well, besides these, there are myths galore, if you want to bust every myth that is prevalent in society, go talk to your dietician.