Breastfeeding truly is one of the best things a mother can do, both for herself and her newborn child. It not only provides her baby with the perfect food during the first few months, it is also an opportunity for bonding and cuddling that has been proven beneficial to both mother and child. Breastfeeding also helps the mother lose the excess pounds and fat gained during pregnancy and even lessens her chances for certain cancers. In a nutshell, breastfeeding truly is a good thing.
Though breastfeeding is very natural, it does take its toll on the mother’s body. While breastfeeding, the body not only has to sustain and keep itself healthy, it also has to produce enough breast milk to feed and nourish the baby. Sustaining breastfeeding and maintaining a healthy body means that the mother must be very conscious about her food and nutrition intake so that she can stay healthy and provide for her child.
According to Dra. Natividad F. Generalao-Ko, an Ob-gyn, a minimum of 1800 calories should be consumed by the mother each day to be able to produce adequate milk supply. This is roughly 300-500 calories more than a woman’s normal intake. She also says that getting a balanced diet by eating a variety of foods from each food group in the right amounts is especially important during breastfeeding, and stresses that breastfeeding mothers should limit consumption of oils and solid fats, and instead increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables while breastfeeding.
Dra. Generalao-Ko mentions the important nutrients a breastfeeding woman requires:
Protein Taken in the right amounts and from the right sources like fish, meat, chicken or even soybeans, protein - at least 71 grams of per day - is important during breastfeeding. It helps build muscles and develop baby tissues.
Folic acid 500 micrograms per day of folic acid is important for building protein tissues. Foods rich in folic acids are broccoli, dark green vegetables and even oranges.
Calcium This is especially important during breastfeeding. Taking enough calcium-rich foods is not only needed to keep the mother’s bones strong, it also helps the baby with his or her bone development as well. Around 1000 milligrams/day of calcium should be taken from sources such as milk and shellfish.
Zinc Breastfeeding moms and women should target getting 12 milligrams per day for proper functioning of the immune system. Meat, some grains and nuts are good sources of zinc.
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Iron This is needed for the development of healthy blood supply. Breast feeding mother requires around 10 milligrams per day.
Vitamin D Vitamin D is needed for proper calcium absorption. 10 micrograms daily is needed during breastfeeding, which mothers can get from milk and by taking morning walks.
Dietary Fiber Breastfeeding mothers should try to get 30 grams of dietary fiber everyday by eating whole grains, fruits and vegetables.