Breastfeeding and Nutrition
After delivery, all mothers need continued
nutrition so that they can be healthy and active and able to care of their
baby. Nutrient needs of the mother during breastfeeding include increased need
for energy, vitamins and minerals, and
During the first months of your baby's life you should eat good food and get
plenty of sleep over and above anything else. Be patient with your body,
and aim to put back what your baby has taken out.
Nutrition for Breastfeeding Moms
To ensure the production of an ample, healthy
milk supply, breastfeeding mothers -
Need an extra 500 calories a day (unless
start with). When feeding twins an extra 600-1000 calories
per day should be added to your diet. Total caloric intake when lactating is
2300-2500 calories for singleton and 2600-3000 calories for twins depending on
her size and activity level.
Should drink more (non-caffeinated) fluids and
Take extra calcium. The normal recommended daily intake of
calcium is 700 - 800 mg, but this rises to 1,250 mg while
breastfeeding-equivalent to two pints of skimmed milk or four 200 g yoghurts,
Make sure that your diet fulfils the recommended intake of
iron, zinc, magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin E and folic acid. Zinc is in meats,
eggs and whole grains. Magnesium is in whole grains, beans and nuts. Vitamin E
is in wheat germ, nuts, many oils and whole grains.
Meat, eggs, whole-grain breads, cereals and wheat germ are also iron-rich.
Eat five or six small meals, little more than snacks, per day,
rather than three larger ones.
For the duration of breastfeeding, avoid or minimize your intake
of tobacco, alcohol and caffeine.
Any over-the-counter or prescription medicines should be cleared
with your baby's healthcare provider first, before use.
Ideally, your nutrients should
come from food, but unless you can be sure that your diet is nutritionally
complete it is better to take a supplement than go without. Remember to
eat a good quality,
If you have a meat - free
diet, ensure that you get enough calories, protein, vitamins and minerals,
such as iron and calcium, each day. This means being particularly
aware of your food choices and the importance of eating a variety of plant
food proteins during the course of the day.
Most lactation experts recommend that
breastfeeding mothers should eat when they are hungry. But many mothers may be
so tired or busy that food gets forgotten. Plan simple and healthy meals that
include choices from all of the recommended groups from the food pyramid.
Your milk supply
While you breastfeed you should not put on weight, but if you lose weight
rapidly you may not be eating enough. The more often you breastfeed your
baby and the more vigorously she feeds, the more milk you are likely to have.
Being worn out or upset can affect how much milk you produce for your baby, and
be aware that running around may impair your ability to breastfeed successfully.
Avoid vigorous exercise since it can affect the quality and quantity of your
milk, and if you have an option on being busy, don't be.
Have a drink every time you breastfeed in addition to what you normally drink.
Water is best, although fruit teas, juices, thin soup or stock, or skimmed milk
are suitable. Avoid or skimmed milk are suitable. Avoid or limit
caffeine as too much will upset a baby. If your urine becomes very dark,
you should increase your fluid intake.
Foods to avoid
If you or your family have no food allergies, then most foods that you eat
won't cause your baby problems. If there is an allergy in the family, some
foods might adversely affect your baby, causing colic,
wheezing. Cow's milk is common offender, as are citrus fruits, tomatoes,
eggs, wheat, and peanuts. It take an estimated four to six hours from the
time you eat food for it to affect your milk. You can establish any
relationship between certain foods that you have eaten and a reaction in your
baby by keeping a written record for a few weeks or so.
Breastfeeding and Exercising
Avoid vigorous exercise until at
least six weeks after the birth of your baby and until you are confident of a
consistent milk supply.
Before exercising, empty your
breasts of milk since vigorous arm movements may set off the milk flow
Avoid gym work in the first two
months after childbirth since the risk of joint injury is high when performing
Swimming is beneficial: the
joints, breasts and pelvic floor are all supported by the buoyancy of the
Avoid the leg action in the
breaststroke: it can stress the joint at the front of the pelvis, which is
vulnerable during the postnatal period
If you join an aqua aerobics
class, keep your chest underwater as the breasts pull heavily when you move
Drugs That Are Not Safe While Nursing
Some drugs can be taken by a nursing mother if she stops breast-feeding for a
few days or weeks. She can pump her milk and discard it during this time to keep
up her supply, while the baby drinks previously frozen milk or formula.
Radioactive drugs used for some diagnostic tests like Gallium-69, Iodine-125,
Iodine-131, or Technetium-99m can be taken if the woman stops nursing
Drugs that should never be taken while breast-feeding include:
Bromocriptine (Parlodel): A drug for Parkinson's disease, it
also decreases a woman's milk supply.
Most Chemotherapy Drugs for Cancer: Since they kill cells in
the mother's body, they may harm the baby as well.
Ergotamine (for migraine headaches): Causes vomiting,
diarrhea, convulsions in infants.
Lithium (for manic-depressive illness): Excreted in human
Methotrexate (for arthritis): Can suppress the baby's immune
Drugs of Abuse: Some drugs, such as cocaine and PCP, can
intoxicate the baby. Others, such as amphetamines, heroin and marijuana, can
cause a variety of symptoms, including irritability, poor sleeping patterns,
tremors, and vomiting. Babies become addicted to these drugs.
Tobacco Smoke: Nursing mothers should
Nicotine can cause vomiting, diarrhea and restlessness for the baby, as well as
decreased milk production for the mother. Maternal smoking or passive smoke may
increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and may increase
respiratory and ear infections.
Giving up breastfeeding
If you are returning to work, or want to give
up breastfeeding, try to feed your baby for at least the first 12 - 16 weeks so
that she can benefit from the protective qualities of the milk. We know
that this is the ultimate food to nourish our babies, but breastfeeding is
impossible for some and difficult or impractical for others. I don't know
any woman who feels nonchalant if breastfeeding is proving problematic. I
breastfeed my first baby for a year, but my second baby was ravenous before I
had to accept that he, and I, just couldn't do it. In these situations we
must thank our lucky stars for formula milk and start to see the funny side of
Intake for Lactating Woman
If you have been abusing drugs for too long that pregnancy does not stop you from using, perhaps it's time you consider finding
long term drug abuse recovery programs that will help you solve this problem.
Dated 04 August 2012