New mothers sometimes get so engrossed in doing all the right things for their new baby that they forget to take adequate care of themselves. What they don’t realize is that taking good care of themselves is directly related to their baby’s health, especially during breastfeeding. Here are some dos and don’ts to guide new mothers through this special and new phase of their life.
• Consume a balanced diet: A breastfeeding mother needs to consume an adequate and balanced diet. There is an extra demand for nutrients, especially to secrete sufficient quantity and quality of milk and to safeguard your own health. Your requirement for energy increases since you need additional calories for producing milk. Some nutrients are also needed in extra amounts like protein, calcium, vitamins like B1, B2, B3, folate, B12, C and A.
Eat at least 3 nutritious meals a day: Mothers can get hungry easily while breastfeeding. This is because breastfeeding uses up extra calories–up to 500 a day. Breastfeeding is a natural way to lose weight, since lactation mobilizes fat in your body (you may not be able to see the results overnight as it is a gradual process).
Aim for regular meals and two to three light snacks a day as part of your lactation diet. Do not skip meals, particularly breakfast. Some snacking options include fruit smoothies, a handful of nuts, veg rolls, sandwiches, fruit platters, etc. This sample chart will give you an idea of what a day’s eating should look like.
SAMPLE DIET PLAN FOR NEW MOMS
* Note: This diet plan is for a healthy lactating mother with no ailments. You need to adapt this to your dietary pattern and nutrient requirements. Kindly consult your doctor/dietitian for further guidance.
• Drink plenty of fluids: Breastfeeding every two to four hours can be dehydrating. Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water which is an integral part of your lactation diet. 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.
• Iron: Iron is required to fulfill additional demands in breast milk. Lactating women require 25g of iron (4gm additional compared to sedentary non-lactating women). Iron rich foods include pulses and legumes, garden cress seeds, green leafy vegetables, watermelons, eggs, red meat etc.
• Exercise: Incorporating some moderate exercises like brisk walking or swimming three times a week, will keep you fit and happy.
• Unwind and relax: Always remember to take time out for a spa treatment or massages that will help you to de-stress and keep calm.
• 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.
• Do not diet 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.
• Avoid alcohol: Alcohol passes quickly into breast milk and can affect your baby. Avoid smoking and use of tobacco as well.
• Food safety is crucial: Be particularly careful with food hygiene. Avoid foods that carry a high risk of contamination. Try to minimize your exposure to contaminants like pesticides, insecticides, etc. in your food. Consume local and seasonal products. Drink filtered water.