Healthy diet for lactating women

Ideally speaking, a diet for a breastfeeding mother is no different from a normal balanced and healthy diet. Proper nutrition is crucial both for babies and for mothers who are breastfeeding. Listen to the body, and eat what feels right

Healthy diet for lactating women
It is important to maintain energy levels to take care of your baby’s growth. (Photo source: Pixabay)

By Arooshi Garg,

Women often get confused when it comes to their diet when breastfeeding, especially new moms. It is very confusing to decide what to eat, what to avoid and what would be the best for my baby’s growth.

Ideally speaking, a diet for a breastfeeding mother is no different from a normal balanced and healthy diet. Proper nutrition is crucial both for babies and for mothers who are breastfeeding. Listen to the body, and eat what feels right. There is no single diet that is considered ideal. One should aim at eating a healthy, balanced and colourful diet that includes all food groups in ideal portions.

Let’s Understand the basics of breastfeeding nutrition.

It is very important to fulfill the protein requirement of the body in order to maintain a good milk supply and healthy bones for both mother and the baby. To meet this one should aim at including at least 3 servings of high quality protein in the form of milk, yogurt/curd/, paneer, cheese, soya milk, eggs, fish and lean meats. Vegetarian mothers can include seeds and nuts in the roasted form or can even add in lactation cookies or panjiri` ladoos.

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Pulses such as green moong, masoor are said to improve milk supply. They can be made into cooked dals with mix vegetables for a one pot meal.

It is important to maintain energy levels to take care of your baby’s growth. Avoid processed cereals and go for more whole grain, millets, broken wheat porridge, vegetable khichdi, oats and ragi. All of these are high in fibre and calcium.

Iron is required to fulfil the additional demands in breastmilk. Iron rich foods include pulses and legumes, green leafy vegetables, watermelon seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc. A healthy trail mix with seeds and roasted nuts can be made at home with locally available seeds, dry fruits and dates or jaggery, both of which are extremely rich in iron and considered to increase milk supply. One can also make lactation ladoos with dates, jaggery, sesame seeds and other nuts.

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Include seasonal and locally available fruits to add variety and more vitamins in the diet. Try to keep the preparations less spicy and less oily. Use lighter vegetables like gourds, green leafy vegetables, pumpkin, carrots etc. Avoid vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, radish if the baby or mother have weak digestion or bloating issues. Include at least 2 servings of fruits such as pomegranate, papaya, apple and pear must be included in your diet. To make the consumption easier, one may also consider mixing appropriate fruits, vegetables and nuts to make healthy and refreshing smoothies.

It is very important to maintain fluid levels in the body. Dehydrated mothers have a difficult and sparse milk supply. Low fluid intake may lead to constipation, dark coloured urine and also urinary infections. Consume at least 3 litres of water, thin buttermilk, fresh fibre rich juices, soups, milk, coconut water, zeera/ ajwain water to keep your gut healthy.

Some traditional Indian foods and herbs are known to increase milk production. Herbs such as methi, zeera, dill, dry ginger or saunth, are recommended for improving milk production. Herbs and spices like ajwain, fennel seeds and garlic help in better digestion and prevent colic pain in babies.

In general mothers should focus on including all food groups in their daily diet. Well-spaced meals which include 3 major meals and 2 snacks is a must. Avid empty calories, excess tea/ coffee and packaged foods. Spicy and oily foods must be avoided to prevent discomfort to mother and baby.

Try to incorporate some moderate exercises like brisk walking, yoga, stretching on a daily basis.

(The author is Lifestyle Expert, GOQii and a certified Breastfeeding & Infant and Young Child Feeding Consultant. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the FinancialExpress.com.)

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