Nothing can replace the highly nourishing and superior quality of the breast milk. That is the reason, health experts advise exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months to the baby and thereafter as long as the baby and the mother desires. But to continue feeding the baby for six months and more, it is very much essential that the nursing mother should take good care of her health and keep a close watch on her diet. The diet for nursing mothers should be rich in nutrition so that the baby remains healthy and his development is normal.
No one can argue on the point that the human breast milk is the best nutritional provision created by nature for the newborns and consists of all the ingredients required for the optimal growth of a child. During the period of nursing, the need of nutrients of a woman is at an all time high. Eating right food and taking adequate rest ensures that the baby receives the nutrients in required amount from his mother.
Here is a list that throws light on the diet for nursing mothers:
1.Drink More Water at Regular Intervals
Breast milk constitutes 88 percent water by weight. On the first day of the delivery, the breast milk volume is around 50 ml and it goes on to increase up to 750ml per day as the baby grows and his need for milk increases. That is why; the most critical nutrient for ensuring ample production of milk in mother is adequate intake of water at regular intervals so that it is ready for the baby when he demands.
How much water a nursing mother should drink to increase breast milk ?
A feeding mother should drink at least 2 liters of water each day or even more depending upon the need. If you are thirsty, it indicates that your body is short of water and you should immediately fulfill your body’s need for fluid. Apart from plain water, you can also drink variety of nutritious fluids including juice, soup and milk.
2.Eat Healthy and Enough Food
You need to have enough nutrients and energy in your body to provide properly balanced breast milk to your baby. As a nursing mother, you must add around 500 kcal to your every day diet. Try to include variety of fruits such as vegetables, fruits, fiber and proteins, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, nuts, seeds, dairy products and increase a small portion of each in your meal to get that additional energy.
3. Essential Fats is Must
Breast milk fat constitutes around 50% of the calories. So, a nursing mother should include unsaturated fats, especially those foods that provide the much required essential fatty acids such as Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Arachadonic acid (ARA). These fats play a major role in the overall development of the eye and brain of the baby. DHA is adequately present in tuna, salmon and mackerel whereas eggs, poultry and meat are a good source of ARA.
4. Essential Vitamins
During breastfeeding, the requirement for various vitamins increases dramatically especially vitamins such as C, A and all the vitamins from the B group including B12 and folate. That is why; it is essential that the diet for nursing mothers should be rich with nutrients, especially vitamins that are soluble in water such as vitamin C and B. Eating a wide variety of wholesome food helps to increase the nutrition level of the breast milk.
5. Major Minerals
Breast milk should have various minerals especially zinc and iodine in significant amount. That is why; a nursing mother should include seafood in abundance in her diet. Food that is a rich source of zinc and iodine include eggs, poultry, milk, meat, seaweed and beans, nuts. Calcium is one of the most important components of the milk and hence its requirement is higher in nursing women. Apart from everyday serving of dairy including yogurt and milk, mother of an infant should also include other sources of calcium such as cheese, fish with edible bones, soybean, curd, legumes, calcium-fortified food and green leafy vegetables.
Precautions and Foods to Avoid
The diet for nursing mothers should include variety of foods, but it should be clean and safe so that the chances of infection or food poisoning are lowered.
- A nursing mother should avoid alcohol and smoking as it affects the ability of the baby to suckle making him less alert.
- Avoid or restrict the use of caffeine to less than 200mg a day or it may cause restlessness in the baby.
- Do not eat large fish such as tilefish, swordfish or shark as they are dense in dioxins, mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls that can affect the growth of your baby’s nervous system.
- Strongly flavored foods such as onion and garlic too should be avoided, as some baby’s can be sensitive to its strong flavor.