Nutrition Recommendations for Breastfeeding Women
During this unique phase in the childbearing cycle, a
will need to take some extra care to assure that she produces and provides to
her infant abundant, high-quality milk. Because human milk represents the ideal
food for young infants, it's only natural to focus first on the type of diet a
mother needs to consume in order to produce nutritious milk for her baby.
Enhanced Calorie Intake: Most
lactating women will need to consume
about 500 additional calories above their normal pre-pregnancy food intake. An
individual mother's calorie requirements can vary widely depending upon her
basic metabolism and level of activity. Nutrition experts recommend that
breastfeeding women consume 2,700 calories per day. However, recent studies of
healthy lactating women in the industrialized world showed their actual intake
of food to be approximately 2,200 calories per day while breastfeeding, or about
15 percent less than the recommended value. Fruits and veggies are a nutritious,
low-fat source of calories,
fiber. Make an effort to eat
vitamin A-rich produce often, such as carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, and
Carbohydrate: A Lactating mother should consume 6-11 servings of
grains most of which should come from the whole grain group as they contain more
nutrients (vitamins and minerals) and also help prevent
Protein Intake: Eat more of
protein rich foods.
The basic rule says that you should eat I gram of
protein each day for every pound you weight. Be sure you are including a healthy
portion of protein with at least two meals each day. Meat, poultry, seafood,
eggs, beans, nuts, tofu, and many dairy products are good sources of
The most recent Recommended Dietary Allowance (National Research Council,
1989) for protein during lactation promotes the addition of 15 g/protein per day
to baseline needs for the first 6 months of full lactation and 12 g/d
thereafter. These estimates are based on milk volumes of 750 mg/d for the first
6 months and 600 mg/d thereafter; the secretion of 1.1 g of protein/de
throughout lactation, an efficiency of 0.7 in the utilization of dietary protein
for milk protein production; and a factor of 0.3 to account for inter-individual
Calcium needs for lactation remain elevated as in pregnancy. Continue
to choose at least 3-4 calcium-rich foods daily. Teenage mothers should consume
4-5 servings. Recent evidence has confirmed the importance of adequate calcium
intake in the prevention of
osteoporosis (brittle bones) in later life. Dairy
products are the best source of dietary calcium. Milk and milk products also
provide protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Drink plenty of liquids each day: It is during lactation that
the nursing mothers tend to feel thirstier, owing to the fact that part of their
water consumption is utilized by the body for the formation of milk. It is here
where it becomes necessary to increase your water intake by one quart per day,
so that you are drinking a total of 2.5 to 3 quarts.
Limit your intake of
sugar, salt, fat, and
highly processed foods. t is not a wise idea to depend on junk food during the
lactating period. The diet supplied to feeding moms should be low in
and high in fiber. Increased intake of
fast food and dieting is sure to make you
fat and unhealthy respectively.
Avoid cigarette smoking as it
can reduce mother's milk production, and smoke is an environmental toxin
effecting infant lung development.
Say no to
alcohol, as alcohol can retard the
growth of your baby.
Consult your doctor before taking any kind of
The protective benefits of
breastfeeding are further enhanced when the mother
excludes common allergic foods-milk and other dairy products, egg, fish,
peanut, soy from her diet during
pregnancy and lactation. The allergic risk to
her baby is also reduced if the mother rotates her foods, avoiding eating any
single food on a daily basis. I must emphasize that women who eliminate major
food groups, such as dairy products, from their diet will need nutrition
counseling by a registered dietitian or their physician.
Avoid rapid weight loss during breastfeeding.
Many new mothers are
preoccupied with their body image and find the idea of rapid
weight loss highly
desirable. But trying to return too quickly to your
pre-pregnancy weight by
drastically reducing your calorie intake is likely to result in diminished milk
production. Women who were at normal weight prior to their pregnancy are advised
not to lose more than two pounds per month after the first month of
breastfeeding. Overweight women can lose up to four pounds a month.