Did you know that a mother’s milk is a free source of food for your child for the first six months? Before we get to know why breast milk is like a wholesome meal for your child, let us first understand who is a lactating mother. Thereafter we will get to know why a mother’s milk is critical. We will also get to learn why nutrition is important for lactating mothers and finally get to learn which diet is recommended for lactating mothers.
First thing first, let us know who is a lactating mother. A lactating mother simply means a mother who is breastfeeding a child. The term nursing can also refer to breastfeeding.
Are there benefits to breastfeeding?
Doctors recommend exclusive breastfeeding (no water, juice, soup, or formula) for six months. In the 7th month that’s when the baby is introduced to other food such as water, and infant formula. Solid food is supposed to be introduced gradually since the baby’s system is not fully developed. Therefore, it is advisable to consult your doctor for proper guidance.
Here are a few reasons why breastfeeding is important:
Benefits of breast milk to the child.
- Breast milk contains vitamins proteins and fat which is easily digestible as compared to the infant formula.
- It is also rich in antibodies that help the infant fight diseases.
- It lowers the risk of getting allergies and asthma.
- Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months reduces the risk of the baby getting ear infections diarrhea and bouts.
Benefits of breastfeeding to the mother
- Breastfeeding helps in burning calories that accumulate during the pregnancy period.
- It lowers the chances of getting ovarian cancer and the risk of osteoporosis.
- You also get time to unwind, and play with your child, as you also bond.
Are there long-term benefits of breast milk?
Research has shown that breastfeeding can lead to an increase in oxytocin in both the child and the mother. Additionally, mothers who breastfeed their young ones reduce the likelihood of developing postpartum depression.
Why is diet important for lactating mothers?
Any mother who is breastfeeding needs calories to meet the nutritional needs of the child. Therefore, a mother must eat well to meet the nutritional needs of her baby. Doctors recommend 330 to 400 kilocalories every day for breastfeeding mothers. Moreover, the number of calories needed by the mother may vary, depending on her age, activity, and the extent of breastfeeding. To meet the nutritional needs of the child, here are some of the foods that you can eat:
1. Beans and legumes for lactating mothers
Beans and legumes are known to be a very good source of vitamins, minerals, and proteins. A mother can also get iron and zinc, and they are also recommendable to those of you who do not consume animal protein. They are easily found in stores and come in canned, frozen, or dry forms. On that note, nutritional experts recommend that all lactating mothers consume beans without any fear. This is why you can consider including this wonderful diet in your menu:
- a) Controls cholesterol levels among the lactating mothers
They widely are known to be a good source of fiber more so insoluble forms. The fiber content maintains the cholesterol levels in the required form during the period of lactation. Elements such as phytosterols and saponins are good contributors to controlling your cholesterol levels.
- b) Helps lactating mothers in weight loss
During pregnancy, every mother gains weight which is expected since the baby is growing in the womb. The biggest problem is how to shed the excess weight after giving birth. They are rich in fiber. In that case, beans help to regulate your body weight after delivery.
- c) Beans and legumes help in digestion among the lactating mothers
Beans are beneficial either in a soluble or insoluble form. Beans and legumes in insoluble form help to prevent constipation. Those germinated are a bit more effective than those not germinated.
How do you ensure that beans and legumes are of help especially when one is a lactating mother?
Like any other food, there are some precautions to take to ensure the beans are of benefit to you.
This is what to put into consideration:
- It is important to eat organic beans which can be bought from a trusted brand.
- Packed beans and legumes are mostly preferred since they are not prone to contamination.
- Cleanliness of the beans is important when. They should also be firm and dried.
- Dried beans should be packed in a sealed container and once the seal is broken, consume them as soon as possible.
2. Green vegetables for lactating mothers
The leafy dark green vegetables, which include kales and spinach, provide nutrients to both the mother and the child. The beauty of vegetables is that they can be eaten when cooked and also in salad form. This is why the vegetables are recommended to the lactating mothers:
- They contain vitamin A
A good number of vegetables are rich in vitamin A. This includes vegetables such as winter squash, tomatoes, and carrots.
- Provision of elements such as calcium and magnesium
Vegetables such as lettuce are rich in iron, calcium, and magnesium. They also contain other important elements such as sodium, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, and K. Iron is important in breastfeeding mothers and also the baby. Iron is also ideal for the protection of the baby against anemia. It is also a key component in the development of the infant’s brain.
- They offer phytoestrogens
Research has shown that green vegetables offer phytoestrogens which help in the production of milk. Lactating mothers should also not be afraid of consuming vegetables such as cabbage and broccoli since they do not increase fussiness and gassiness in the baby. The carbohydrates in these vegetables that cause fussiness and gassiness cannot be transferred to breast milk.
3. Mushrooms consumption by the lactating mothers
Mushrooms are nutritious, delicious, and delicious food for lactating mothers. They help address colic symptoms in the baby and they also boost your immunity. This is by increasing immunoglobulin. This antibody fights diseases and helps prevent poorly digested food molecules from passing through the baby’s intestines. This is critical since babies’ digestive systems contain holes. These holes allow passage of immunity to the young one from the mother through the bloodstream hence protecting the baby from diseases.
Research has also shown that mushrooms are good in the provision of riboflavin. Lack of riboflavin can affect metabolic reaction and hence result in poor growth in infants. Lactating mothers are therefore advised to eat mushrooms at least once a week to prevent poorly digested food particles from finding their way into the bloodstream. Here are some other benefits of mushroom consumption especially to the lactating mothers:
- Mushrooms are rich in amino acids and hence ideal for boosting your energy.
- They contain an anti-fungal microbial property, vitamin D, and potassium.
- Mushrooms are also known to increase metabolic reactions which maintain blood sugar levels.
- Mushrooms are known to prevent anemia due to the iron content in them.
- They contain iodine which reduces the risks of endocrine system diseases
- Help reduce the risk of joint disease and enhance healthy teeth.
- Reduce the risk of migraines and headaches.
- Mushrooms are known to remove unwanted materials from the body before they can reach breast milk.
4. Eating fish for lactating mothers
There has been a lot of debate as to whether mothers should eat fish during and after pregnancy. The good news is that the consumption of fish is beneficial to both pregnant women and lactating mothers. Research has also shown that women who consume fish are also found to be healthier as compared to those who don’t take fish. This is because fish contain vital nutrients and vitamins such as DHA, vitamin D, and EPHA.
Here are some benefits of fish consumption among the lactating mother:
- You get omega-3 fatty acids whenever you eat fish. This is a type of fat found in seafood. It plays a critical role in the cognitive development of your baby.
- Fish have low levels of fats and a huge amount of proteins. Such proteins help a lot in the development of the child.
Are there side effects of fish consumption in lactating mothers?
If your guess is as good as mine then the answer is yes. Some fish such as swordfish and sharks have high levels of mercury which can affect your brain. Therefore, the consumption of such fish can be harmful not only to the mother but also to the child. Canned tuna which is sold in various stores have also been known to have a considerable amount of mercury which is harmful when consumed.
Which fish are safe for lactating mothers?
Fish that are safe for the breastfeeding mothers include:
- Lake whitefish
- Atlantic mackerel
One thing to note is that the mother needs to be cautious. It is therefore critical that a mother be very keen on what she eats. This will ensure both the mother and the child are safe from dangerous elements which can include mercury.
5. Consumption of nuts by lactating mothers
Nuts are fruits that are very nutritious and highly recommendable among lactating mothers. The seed which is mostly consumed contains essential nutrients. Examples of nuts that are consumable include chestnuts and hazelnuts.
Why nuts for lactating mothers
- Nuts provide omega 3fatty acids, vitamin E, and unsaturated fats.
- They prevent blood from thickening, and hence reduce the chances of a heart attack.
- Nuts have antioxidants that remove unwanted elements from the body.
- The fiber that is contained in nuts regulates bowel movements thus reducing cholesterol levels in your body.
- It is believed that early exposure of the baby to allergens increases tolerance hence lowering the chances of being allergic.
One thing to note is that some babies can develop allergies when their mothers consume nuts just like any other delicacy. Therefore, if you have relatives that are allergic, it’s advisable not to consume nuts. Here are some symptoms of allergies that you can observe in your child.
- A child that has skin rushes.
- Face swelling
- Hard stool
- Challenges in breathing
- And vomiting
If you see the above symptoms in your young one it’s critical to visit a health facility for good management.
6. Turmeric for lactating mothers
Turmeric has been in use since time immemorial and is known to reduce inflammation and increase milk production. In Asia turmeric is used to boost immunity among children, and women as well as treatment of colds and coughs. Here are some benefits of turmeric among the lactating mothers:
- Boosting of immunity-Turmeric contains antibacterial inflammatory properties that boost energy in breastfeeding mothers.
- Improves milk supply-in countries such as India turmeric is believed to hasten milk production among the mothers. Moreover, turmeric mixed with other delicacies improves milk flow.
- Mood stabilizer-turmeric is an antidepressant. They are known to improve dopamine which helps in controlling postpartum depression.
- Lower the risk of the mastitis-Any mother who is lactating can be at risk of contracting mastitis. In that case, turmeric is a remedy for mastitis. They contain anti-inflammatory properties that prevent the breast from swelling and clogging. The swelling and clogging are what cause mastitis.
- Improves digestion-At times lactating mothers might experience digestion problems. Turmeric helps stimulate the stomach to enhance the production of gastric acids. The acid is used during digestion.
Other advantages of turmeric consumption include:
- Turmeric is an antioxidant.
- It is also an antidepressant.
- And anti-carcinogenic.
In conclusion beans and legumes, mushrooms fish, and consumption of nuts are good diets for lactating mothers. Turmeric is also a recommendable diet for lactating mothers. As a lactating mother, it is also critical to always visit your nearest health facility for more diet advice.