World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated annually across 120 countries from 1-7th August. Promoted by global health organisations like WHO and UNICEF, the goal of this week is to spread awareness about the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant's life. This helps build the baby's immune system, provides critical nutrients and promotes development.
The nine month long trial a mother undergoes finally bears fruit when her child is born. The mother promises it all the nutrition and care, both inside and outside the womb. Once the baby enters the world it's going to grow up in, it depends on its mother's milk for all the nourishment. Breastfeeding is the closest bond a parent shares with their offspring. While breastfeeding, a mother needs to have the right diet so that the milk the baby gets, is filled with all the right nutrients.
Many new mothers struggle with breastfeeding. As momentous the occasion is, the arrival of a new born, it is also a difficult time for a mother. We spoke to experts for tips on the right diet for a breastfeeding mother. Here's what they had to say:
1) The phase of lactation demands an additional 500kcal in the diet of a breastfeeding mother. Despite all the conflicting advice, breast feeding mothers are advised to consume a healthy diet with good proportions of proteins, vitamins, iron and calcium. Women can continue the healthy eating policy that they were following in pregnancy.
2) High protein content of foods such as whole grains, cereals, pulses, dried fruits, fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs and chicken is good for the mother and baby.
3) Aerated drinks and alcohol are not advised. Instead, switch to healthier options to stay hydrated such as fresh fruit juices, tender coconut, lassi and lime juice.
4) Since there is no proven link to think that certain foods may cause colic for the baby, mothers are advised to eat what suits them and avoid foods that don't.
5) Traditionally, lactating women are given food laden with heavy portions of ghee. As there is no proof that this causes increase in breast milk production, a wise move would be to switch over to fresh fruits, milk, yoghurt and juices instead.
6) Also, women are advised to continue the supplements of iron and calcium in the postpartum period for up to 3 months.
7) Water isn't technically food. But it ensures a regular supply of milk. It is advised to drink atleast 8 glasses of water a day. Breastfeeding mothers are advised to keep a bottle of water nearby, even if they are not thirsty, as they it is difficult to get up once they start nursing.
8) Oatmeal is very much in fashion these days among office goers. It is light and provides the right nutrition. Lactating mothers are advised to have oats as a part of their diet as it helps reduce cholesterol and regulate blood pressure. It's also seen to increase the milk supply.
9) Garlic is a common thing found in the vegetable compartment of our fridge. Adding garlic to your food not only increases the deliciousness of your dish but also increases the milk supply.
10) Breastfeeding mothers have the right opportunity to bring out the Bugs Bunny in you. Carrots contain beta-carotene, which is great for lactating mothers. So grab the carrots and go all "What's up doc"?"
A healthy balanced diet is essential to ensure that the mother gets her extra 500 kcal from nutrient-rich sources and they are not empty calories.
With inputs from: Dr. Sahana K, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Medikoe and Dr. Bhavana Sharma, a registered OBGY doctor on Buzz4health.