Foods for Lactating Mothers:
Very recently I am coming across lots of mothers who are in deep worry and doubts about breastfeeding. Many keep worrying a lot on “Is my baby getting enough milk? , Is my supply sufficient? My milk is not enough, Shall I introduce formula? “. These are very common queries which make a mother too worried. This is very common for every mother to worry or at the least doubt on if the baby is getting enough milk. There is nothing wrong in this thought.
All that you need to do for reducing this worry is to look for few signs in your baby and take the best care of yourself in every single means. There are many factors which contribute to a healthy supply(qualitative and quantitative) like a healthy body,a happy and peaceful mind, a positive approach to motherhood, nutrition etc. The first point I would like to highlight is a positive mind. And next would be a healthy body.
Pregnancy, baby care, post postpartum are very important phases in a woman’s life. Every woman might undergo these but each one’s experience is very unique. The journey is very beautiful that the mother totally forgets her self in nurturing the newborn. I wish I contribute a little information on the nutrition part of this lovely phase. Breastfeeding exclusively till 6 months is a must for every baby and every mother and until 1-year breastfeeding should be the major source of nutrition. Solids should only complement breastfeeding. You offer loads of nutrition as long as you breastfeed your baby. There is no compulsion to stop breastfeeding at any age.
A breastfeeding mother needs some 500 extra calories approximately. But this, in turn, depends on your individual body weight, food habits, baby’s expectations. Mothers milk is the most nutritious food a baby can have. The quality/nutritional value never deteriorates with any factor. Even when a nursing mother doesn’t eat well, the baby will get all nutrients 100%. The body takes all nutrients from the reserves of the mother even when she doesn’t take enough food. The more the mother’s reserves begin to reduce, it might affect the health of the mother. Hence it is important to take that “EXTRA CARE” on the food of a nursing mother.
I am not an expert honestly. I am just herewith few food options which will help a breastfeeding mother to improve/increase/maintain milk supply. These might work for you and not me and vice versa too. This is just an attempt to help you with whatever I have known and learnt. These are the results of my experiences, word of mouth from experienced mothers and friends, studies, doctor advice and personal knowledge. I hope and wish this helps you to some extent.
I shall keep updating this section with my recipes and inputs regularly. Please bookmark this page or follow my blog here or like my page at www.facebook.com/KitchenKathukutty to receive regular updates in your mailbox and facebook.Here below are few suggestions(traditional & modern) based on my experience,elders voice,doctors suggestions and reading.
Foods that help in better milk supply:(Quality & quantity)
A wholesome balanced diet loaded with calcium, iron, vitamins, minerals,DHA is essential for a lactating mother. The diet need not be complicated. All that is required is some right blending of tradition and modern science. Include small and frequent meals as you would be nursing often in the first 6 months. I was advised to at least have a cup of water before and after nursing every time. Your source of nutrition can be fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, milk. Most importantly a nursing mother needs some extra iron, calcium, DHA and enough hydration. Hence add greens to your daily diet, pump in more calcium sources(not necessarily milk) and take the prescribed supplements. I am just randomly jotting foods which were advised to me along with their detailed recipes(Click on the links(blue coloured words) to get recipes). These help in optimal weight gain of the baby and keeps up the good health of the lactating mother. Hope this helps.
Foods for Lactating Mothers:
Whole grains and millets are natures gift to us. You can’t measure its benefits. Find all recipes of millets here. One recipe which helped me a lot was Sathu maavu.You just can’t count the nutritional value of this multigrain porridge. It is that abundant. You can even dilute this like water and fill your stomach in between nursing. I found this even more helpful than milk.
2.Milk & milk products:
Elders in the home include tons of ghee to a nursing mother’s diet stating that it heals. It definitely rejuvenates your body. The homemade curd is an excellent source of calcium and also a natural probiotic. It helps you to stay away from all digestion problems. Having buttermilk reduces the heat of your body and suffices the calcium requirement. Two glasses of milk a day is advised for a nursing mother to cope with the calcium requirement.
Including garlic in every single form also helps in improving the calcium intake. But garlic is advised in moderation and it is also found that few babies dislike the odour. In such a kindly avoid it. It is a common practice to either boil 5 garlic cloves in a cup of milk and consume or to stir-fry garlic and have them. Following recipes also help in including garlic in a subtle manner.
Fennel seeds are known for their ability to aid proper digestion in all of us. You can include fennel in the following ways.
- Boil few seeds in water, cool and have it regularly.
- Include fennel seeds in all curries and gravies.
- Try to chew some fennel after each meal.
5. Jeera/Cumin Seeds:
Both fennel and jeera are included in our diet for aroma, flavour and most importantly to aid digestion. You can have jeera water or include fried cumin seeds in your tempering or add cumin seed powder to butter milk and have.
Fenugreek seeds are said to improve the quality of the milk and amma makes a kali out of it. It said to reduce the heat of the body. You can chew few sprouted fenugreek every morning or add some fenugreek powder to buttermilk and have.
Green gram sprouts, soya beans(red), moong dhal are some of the legumes which give you loads of protein without gastric effects. My doctor advised me to include the below in my daily diet.
Soya bean stir-fry
Urad dhal is known for its calcium content. Amma makes the following dishes specifically for girls/women at home.
Black Urad dhal dosa
Urad dhal Kanji
Sesame seeds are yet another rich source of calcium. Gingelly oil is included in every form just because of this property of sesame seeds. You can add roasted sesame seeds to your tempering or include in following recipes
11.Dry fruits and nuts:
Dates and prunes are good sources of iron and you must have them in your daily diet. You can also have some 5 almonds peeled early in the morning or munch some combination of nuts in between feeding.
Drumstick is a common tree which is found in almost every house here. Moringa leaves are highly rich in iron and any form drumstick is a yummy way to grab some iron nutrition. Moringa has been declared as one of the superfoods in the world.
Moringa leaves/Drumstick leaves soup
Drumstick leaves stir fry
Bottle gourd is extremely high in water content and it helps in keeping a nursing mother hydrated.
Bottle gourd Kootu
Raw papaya(unripe) helps in an excellent manner to boost milk supply. I shall soon post the recipe of raw papaya kootu.
15. Fruits, vegetables, fluids and greens:
You can include every single fruit/veggies/greens in your daily diet. Just grab a bowl of fresh veg salad as you walk and have a bowl of fruit salad for an evening snack or include some spinach in your morning dosa. Include juices, soups, milkshakes, tender coconut water, buttermilk, smoothies so as to keep yourself hydrated. Carrots due their beta-carotene content help a lot in improving your supply. Find all carrot recipes here
Notes & Tips:
- Breastfeeding is a very natural phenomenon and a blessing to every mother and it occurs by itself. Even a malnourished mother who starves for days together can have enough milk for the baby.(The quality might be less).
- Do not follow a schedule or diet chart for breastfeeding. FEED ON DEMAND ONLY
- Even after starting solids, do not replace breastfeeding with solids. No food on earth is equivalent to breastmilk.
- Do not fear that your baby isn’t getting enough milk.
- Breastfeeding is more of a demand and supply phenomenon. So the more you begin to feed baby on demand, the better is your supply.
- A baby who is crying frequently doesn’t always indicate hunger. So a frequently crying baby doesn’t indicate that the mother is having insufficient milk.
- Let baby feed on both the sides. Switching sides is one important point in breastfeeding.
- Always let baby empty one side and then move to the other.
- If you feel your supply is low, you can try to express and store after every breastfeeding session. This enhances your supply. But ensure that the baby does not cling to bottle feed/expressed milk and refuse to suck.
- Learn on right latching positions and ensure proper latch on every time.
- Unless your baby isn’t gaining enough weight and not making 4-6 nappies a day(4-6 pee counts in 24 hours) you need not even think your supply isn’t enough. Consult a lactation specialist if you had any specific problems.
- Always have a word with your doctor and paediatrician before including any food to your diet
- Individuals are unique and family history, individual allergic conditions should be taken into account.
- No smoking, drinking during breastfeeding.
- Reduce caffeine intake.
- Watch your baby’s cues and responses and proceed accordingly. If you feel that a specific ingredient causes some allergy in your baby, avoid that food till you breastfeed.
- Avoid junk/processed/ready to eat foods.
- Never count your calories or don’t take too much stress on weight reduction.
- Avoid cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli if you are feeling a low supply naturally.
- Include brown rice and millets instead of polished rice.
- Reduce oily and spicy content in food.
- Avoid raw banana and potato if you would get affected by gastritis.
- Above all, Stay positive and be happy. Not all are blessed in this world with a lovely baby.
Acceptable medical reasons for use of breast-milk substitutes: Source:WHO & UNICEF websites
Infants who should not receive breast milk or any other milk
except specialized formula
1.Infants with classic galactosemia: a special galactose-free formula is needed.
2.Infants with maple syrup urine disease: a special formula free of leucine,
isoleucine and valine is needed.
3.Infants with phenylketonuria: a special phenylalanine-free formula is
needed (some breastfeeding is possible, under careful
Infants for whom breast milk remains the best feeding option
but who may need other food in addition to breast milk for a limited period
Infants born weighing less than 1500 g (very low birth weight).
Infants born at less than 32 weeks of gestational age (very pre-term).
Newborn infants who are at risk of hypoglycaemia by virtue of impaired metabolic adaptation or increased
glucose demand (such as those who are preterm, small for gestational age or who have experienced significant
intrapartum hypoxic/ischemic stress, those who are ill and those whose mothers are diabetic) (5) if there
blood sugar fails to respond to optimal breastfeeding or breast-milk feeding
Maternal conditions that may justify permanent avoidance of breastfeeding
HIV infection1: if replacement feeding is acceptable, feasible, affordable, sustainable and safe (AFASS) (6).
Maternal conditions that may justify temporary avoidance of breastfeeding
A severe illness that prevents a mother from caring for her infant, for example, sepsis.
Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1): direct contact between lesions on the mother’s breasts and the infant’s mouth
should be avoided until all active lesions have resolved.
– sedating psychotherapeutic drugs, anti-epileptic drugs and opioids and their combinations may cause side effects
such as drowsiness and respiratory depression and are better avoided if a safer alternative is available (7);
– radioactive iodine-131 is better avoided given that safer alternatives are available – a mother can resume
breastfeeding about two months after receiving this substance;
– excessive use of topical iodine or iodophors (e.g., povidone-iodine), especially on open wounds or mucous
membranes can result in thyroid suppression or electrolyte abnormalities in the breastfed infant and should be
– cytotoxic chemotherapy requires that a mother stops breastfeeding during therapy.
Maternal conditions during which breastfeeding can still continue, although health problems
may be of concern
Breast abscess: breastfeeding should continue on the unaffected breast; feeding on the affected breast can
resume once treatment has started (8).
Hepatitis B: infants should be given hepatitis B vaccine, within the first 48 hours or as soon as possible
Mastitis: if breastfeeding is very painful, milk must be removed by expression to prevent progression of the
Tuberculosis: mother and baby should be managed according to national tuberculosis guidelines (10).
Substance use2 (11):
– maternal use of nicotine, alcohol, ecstasy, amphetamines, cocaine and related stimulants has been
demonstrated to have harmful effects on breastfed babies;
– alcohol, opioids, benzodiazepines and cannabis can cause sedation in both the mother and the baby.
Mothers should be encouraged not to use these substances and given opportunities and support
Copyrights and Disclaimer:
Do not copy/reproduce any part of this. I am not an expert and this piece of information was drafted with my knowledge and experience. This is not a substitute for any expert medical opinion. I just came forward to write this to help worrying mothers.
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