Your Nutrition During Breastfeeding: Why it is Important

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While many women are particular about their diet when they are pregnant, often, once the baby is born, they are so wrapped up in taking care of the baby that they sometimes neglect their own diet and healthy eating habits.

But if you are breastfeeding, remember, what you eat is what your baby eats. Here’s why a breastfeeding mother’s diet and food choices are important.

Her food can affect her breast milk

What makes a mother’s nutrition during breastfeeding very important is the fact that her food affects the nutrient quality of her breast milk, to a certain extent. Water–soluble vitamins (e.g. vitamin C and vitamin B) and vitamin A concentrations in breast milk depend on the mother’s food. Babies are able to absorb iron and zinc from breast milk better than other food sources.

Of course, even women who are undernourished can still breastfeed their little ones, but the quality of the breast milk could be affected in some of those cases.

Her calorie requirements have increased

Breastfeeding is hard work. In fact, while a woman needs about 350 extra calories during her pregnancy (compared to when she was not pregnant), she needs 600 extra calories while she is exclusively breastfeeding. So it’s important for her to keep making healthy food choices. In fact, these extra calorie requirements often help women gradually lose some of their pregnancy weight. For more tips on how to make healthy food choices, read the following article

Other recommendations for a breastfeeding mother

Because so many substances can pass from the mother to a child, there are certain added precautions that mothers may have to keep in mind

References:
  1. World Health Organization. Healthy Eating during Pregnancy and Breastfeeding. 2001. http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/120296/E73182.pdf.
  2. National Institute of Nutrition. Dietary Guidelines for Indians - A Manual. 2011. http://ninindia.org/dietaryguidelinesforninwebsite.pdf.
  3. National Institute of Nutrition. Nutrient Requirements And Recommended Dietary Allowances For Indians A Report of the Expert Group of the Indian Council of Medical Research 2009. http://icmr.nic.in/final/rda-2010.pdf.
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Your nutrition during breastfeeding: 5 tips for healthy eating while breastfeeding

As long as you are breastfeeding your child, remember, what you eat influences your child’s health. After all, even the nutrients that your breast milk contains, depend, to a certain extent, on the food that is in your plate.

So here are some 5 healthy tips to remember while breastfeeding


What is 1 portion? In general, for fruits and vegetables, 1 portion =  80g

Eg. of Fruits

E.g. of vegetables

E.g. of other food

One apple

3 tbsp (heaped) carrots, cooked

1 slice of bread (large)

One banana

3 tbsp (heaped) peas, cooked

1 medium potato

One slide of papaya

1 piece of cucumber (5cm)

1/2 cup cooked rice or oatmeal

2 slices of mango (5 cm slices)

4 tbsp (heaped) palak, cooked

3/4 cup ready-to eat dry cereal

1 tomato or 7 cherry tomatoes

1 glass (300 ml) of milk

1 cup (200 ml) of curds/yogurt

3 tbsp (heaped) chole (chickpeas)

References:
  1. NHS Choices. 5 A DAY portion sizes. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/5ADAY/Pages/Portionsizes.aspx.
  2. NHS Choices. Breastfeeding and diet. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/breastfeeding-diet.aspx.
  3. World Health Organization. Healthy Eating during Pregnancy and Breastfeeding. 2001. http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/120296/E73182.pdf.
  4. National Institute of Nutrition. Dietary Guidelines for Indians - A Manual. 2011. http://ninindia.org/dietaryguidelinesforninwebsite.pdf.
  5. ACOG. Breastfeeding your baby. https://www.acog.org/-/media/For-Patients/faq029.pdf.