For women who have recently become mothers, a healthy and nutritious diet is essential to boost lactation, just as much as its essential for a newborn to get its share of required nutrition. This makes it mandatory for the mother to consume food that will benefit her physical health and give her enough energy to combat post-pregnancy pressures, especially with the pandemic disrupting our daily lives.
This World Breastfeeding Week, Rohit Shelatkar, VP at Meyer Vitabiotics and Fitness and Nutrition Expert shares ten essential nutrients tips for new mothers :
Calcium: Babies need to develop their bone structure, and calcium is the best aid for that. It plays a crucial role in development of the new born baby's teeth, and thus needs to be included in the diet for lactating mothers. Milk, cheese, yogurt, tofu and nuts are some of the foods that are rich in calcium and must be consumed. Calcium is vital for lactating mothers as they lose up to 15 percent of their own body calcium and about 3-5 percent of their bone mass while nursing their baby.
Protein: Inclusion of protein is crucial because it serves as the tissue's building blocks and fosters growth. The new-born baby needs these nutrients and so the new mother must incorporate eggs, lean meat, fish, peanut butter and beans to her diet.
Omega 3: A crucial source of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), Omega 3 fatty acids offer a host of benefits including aiding the development of the baby's eyes and brain, reducing risk of chronic diseases, decreasing effects of ADHD, and more. The best source for Omega 3 fatty acids is fish like salmon and trout and alternatively, for vegetarian mothers, flaxseed, soy, walnuts and pumpkin seeds are good sources for Omega 3.
Probiotics: Probiotics are 'good' bacteria that helps fight 'bad' bacteria that cause infections. This is important for the new born, as during this time their immune system is still weak. Yogurt, paneer, green peas, kimchi, pickles, idli and buttermilk are excellent sources of probiotics that should be incorporated during meal time.
Iron: Iron aids in the development of the brain and blood cells for the baby and should be a part of the new mother's diet. Lentils, beans, tofu, spinach and cashews are natural sources of iron and must be incorporated into their meal plan. Iron is also an essential nutrient for new mothers because there is loss of blood during the delivery, followed by tiredness and long nights with the infant and iron consumption helps cope with that.
Moderating caffeine intake: After nine months of avoiding caffeine, new mothers can finally enjoy a cup of coffee again, but in moderation, as excess intake of caffeine can leak into the mother's breast milk and reach the baby's system.
Consider supplements: It is recommended to consume a daily vitamin B-12 supplement. Vitamin B-12 is found mostly in animal products, so it's difficult to get enough in vegetarian diets. Additionally, Vitamin D supplements help absorb calcium and phosphorus. New mothers should consider adding these to their daily diet.
Be moderately active: It is perfectly fine to perform physical activity for new mothers while breastfeeding and that won't affect the baby's growth or milk supply. Moderate intensity activities like brisk walking or riding a bike on a level surface about three or four times a week can help reduce stress levels, improve energy levels and build bone strength.
Avoiding empty calories: The first few days after delivery are very hectic, and it is extremely tempting for the new mother to turn to comfort food or junk food. These types of food contain a number of empty calories that can affect insulin levels in the body which can lead to obesity.
Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol: This is a big 'no' for breast-feeding mothers as the harmful toxins transfer to the baby via the milk. Additionally, it is important not to use any medication that is not approved by the doctor.