What to eat when you breastfeed
- By Dr. T Deepa Porkodi
Almost everyone around you will advise you to eat a calorie-rich food that will aid in milk production from your body. But did you know that your body is quite capable of producing enough milk from whatever you eat? Your body has stocked up on all the fats during your pregnancy days itself. You don’t really need the extra calorie rich food just to produce milk for your baby.
However, how much calories you need cannot be predetermined. Let your body determine your needs. Eat as often as you want, as often as you feel hungry, but remember to eat foods that will give your body the nutrients and not just satiate the hunger.
Opt for whole grains, pulses, fresh fruits, legumes, fresh vegetables and nuts. Choose natural drinks like buttermilk, coconut water, and fresh juices. Remember that the foods that you choose must nourish your body with proteins, calcium, and iron other than carbohydrates.
Dried fruits and nuts like cashews and almonds and walnuts are the traditional foods given to new moms to enhance breast milk confinement. They are a very rich source of calories and definitely improve the quality and quantity of milk.
However, keep a bottle of water or some juice nearby when you breastfeed. The body releases oxytocin when you breastfeed and it makes you thirsty. So, have some refreshing drink before you breastfeed.
Most new moms are advised to drink lots of water as it aids in breast milk production. However, breast milk production doesn’t really need extra water.
It is best to avoid alcohol when you are breastfeeding. The amount of alcohol in blood and breast milk reaches its highest level about 30 minutes after you have a drink and it lowers down only after about four hours. Drinking alcohol is not advised when you breastfeed, however, if you feel like having alcohol, do so after you feed your child. Also, wait for a minimum of four hours before you feed next.
Ghee is another item that new moms are encouraged to consume for milk production. However, if you are eating a balanced diet there is no real necessity to eat too much of ghee.
Avoid aerated drinks, tea, and coffee while you are breastfeeding. Similarly, junk food and foods that are not cooked at home are best avoided. These types of foods fill you up, but provide no real nourishment.
Herbal teas are considered safe drinks during breast feeding. However, consult your doctor before you consume any herbal medicines.
Do not forget to take your prescribed supplements of iron, folic acid, and calcium regularly during breastfeeding. Your body also needs more amounts of vitamin C, vitamin B12, zinc, and vitamin A. These, you may obtain by eating foods that are rich in them or your doctor might prescribe supplements.
Weight gained during pregnancy may be a concern now and you may want to lose it to regain your pre-pregnancy shape. Remember to lose weight gradually with the help of a balanced diet and moderate exercise.
Do not starve yourself. Also heavy exercising may release toxins into the bloodstream and breast milk. Keep in mind that you will gain your original weight back only after your baby has completely weaned off breast milk and has started eating solid foods.
Breastfeeding is the best option for your baby. It gives your baby everything that it needs and keeps it free of all diseases. Do not shy away from breast milk, do it the right way!
Your body is quite capable of producing breast milk from the well-balanced diet that you eat and there is no real need for a calorie-rich food that new moms are fed.