Foods For Lactating Mothers

A mother derives great satisfaction if she can nurse her baby at least for a period of three to six months. When a mother is nursing her baby, it makes greater demands on her body. The nutritional requirements of pregnancy continue in lactation except that they are increased during the latter.

When it comes to breastfeeding, your baby should ideally get everything necessary for proper growth from your breast milk. What you eat matters a lot as it is directly linked with your baby’s health. Breastfeeding superfoods should be your go-to. Good nutrition will help increase your milk supply, give you more energy and help you take off baby weight. In fact, some foods are better than others. What you need is wholesome and quality food to make up for the pregnancy nutrient loss and to sustain your body for future health.

Let’s look at few superfoods for lactating moms. And some ways you can easily incorporate them into your daily intake:

1. Wholegrains

  • Brown Rice
  • Whole wheat Pasta
  • Oatmeal

Oatmeal is great for controlling diabetes post-delivery while being a great source of energy. It is rich in fibre, which has a positive effect on your digestive system. You can eat oats for breakfast or make oats cookies.

Brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and oatmeal are all complex carbohydrates, meaning they keep you feeling full longer and you won’t get those energy dips you do with refined carbohydrates. Whole grain versions are an important source of B vitamins, minerals and fiber. Fiber helps you feel full longer, keeps blood sugar levels steady and aids in digestion. Make oats a part of your diet every day. They are rich in fiber and help in milk production. Plus, they are high in iron.

2. Salmon and Sardines

An excellent source of protein, salmon is rich in vitamin B12 and omega 3 fatty acids. It is also one of only a few sources that has natural vitamin D and many women have vitamin D deficiencies. B12 and omega 3 are thought to help ward off postpartum depression. Salmon is great for breastfeeding moms because it contains large amounts of DHA, a type of fat important for the development of a baby’s nervous system. Wild-caught, farm-raised or canned salmon is good for you. Both salmon and sardines can increase breast milk production.

3. Fenugreek Seeds 

Have been used for generations and across the world to increase breast milk production. It is rich in omega 3 fatty acids which are important for your baby’s brain development. You can also use fenugreek leaves, as they are rich in nutrients like beta-carotene, Vitamin B, calcium and iron. Fenugreek seeds can be added to tea while brewing it or can be used in the preparation of savoury dishes. The seeds are also added to roti and puri.

4. Eggs

Eggs are rich in protein, choline, lutein, vitamins B12 and D, riboflavin and folate. They are a quick, easy meal or snack. Eat the whole egg for optimal nutrition.

5. Leafy Green Vegetables

Leafy greens are rich in vitamins A, C, E and K as well as fiber, antioxidants and minerals including calcium. Plus, they are so low in calories you can eat them all day long and not have to worry about how many calories you have consumed. Shoot for a minimum of one serving a day. Get creative. Put them in your breakfast omelettes, smoothies, salads, stir-fry, casseroles, etc. Broccoli and Swiss chard are nutrient-dense and high in calcium; spinach is rich in iron.

6. Sweet Potatoes

Only one medium sweet potato meets the daily recommendation of vitamin A for breast-feeding moms. Vitamin A is important for vision, bone growth, immune function and cell specialization. Your baby is dependent on your dietary intake to get the vitamin A required for growth and development. That’s another advantage of breast-feeding. Breast-fed babies are very rarely found to be deficient in vitamin A. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of potassium too.

7. Legumes and Beans

As great sources of protein, iron and fiber, legumes and beans belong in your diet. They also have lots of minerals and phytochemicals naturally, non-nutrient chemicals a plant produces. Studies on phytochemicals have shown they can stimulate the immune system, block bad substances we eat, drink and breathe from becoming carcinogens (cancer causing), reduce the kind of inflammation that makes cancer growth more likely, prevent DNA damage, help with DNA repair, reduce the kind of oxidative damage to cells that can spark cancer and help to regulate hormones. So, eat chili, bean dip, bean casseroles and anything bean related! Add chickpeas to your salads.

8. Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds contain protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. They are good for your skin; help you stay younger looking and protect you from heart disease. Almonds are touted as great for breastfeeding moms because they are a good non-dairy source of calcium. (Breastfeeding moms should have 1,000 mg of calcium daily.) Your milk is high in calcium, and if you don’t get enough of it in your diet, it could negatively impact your bones and teeth.

9. Apricots and Dates

Eating apricots and dates can increase prolactin, which is the hormone that tells your body to produce milk. Apricots contain essential nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium. Fresh is always a better choice. Dates are also calcium-rich, high in fiber and naturally sweet.

10. Yogurt

Good source of protein. There are so many flavours available that you are sure to find ones you like. Add fruit or granola for an even yummier yogurt. (Caution: If your baby has been diagnosed with milk protein intolerance, dairy products like yogurt should not be part of your diet.)

11. Dill Seeds

Dill seeds are rich in magnesium, iron, and calcium, making it an ideal addition to the diet of a breastfeeding mother.

12. Beets

A very nutritious veggie, beets are a blood purifier, rich in fibre, and healthy minerals. It is theorised that along with helping boost milk production, beets also help in enhancing the breast milk with blood purification properties that will benefit your baby.

13. Drumsticks or Moringa

A vegetable high in iron and calcium, drumsticks are believed to aid in increasing milk production. Therefore, including this vegetable in your lunch or breakfast meals can help ensure that you’re lactating sufficiently. You can have fresh moringa leaves to garnish your food, or have capsules or moringa tea to avail of its benefits.

14. Water

When considering what to have to increase breast milk production, people often overlook water. Staying hydrated is essential to improve milk production, so remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Drink each glass at intervals, instead of having a large amount in one go.

15. Almonds

This superfood is rich in Vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds contain polyunsaturated fats, make these nuts a superfood. You can eat almonds raw or find almond supplements to increase milk supply. In many parts of the world, almonds are considered a great snack option due to their numerous health benefits. This is also the reason almonds are prescribed by doctors for nursing mothers.

16. Barley

Barley boosts lactation and keeps you hydrated. You can have incorporate grains into salads or soak them in hot water overnight, and then consume the water the next day.

17. Cumin Seeds

Cumin seeds are known to help with digestion, relieve constipation, acidity and bloating along with helping with lactation. They’re also packed with vitamins and calcium. Use these seeds in salads or soak them in water overnight and drink the water to get the benefits.

18. Sesame seeds

Sesame seeds are a great non-dairy source of calcium, which is extremely important for your baby’s growth. After delivery, even the mother will need calcium for effective and full recovery. You can use sesame seeds in your daily cooking or make sweet dishes like ladoos with them and have one a day.

Rest and Relaxation, No Stress at all!

Physical and mental rest, relaxation and adequate exercise are conducive to production of milk in the lactating mother, but these are often neglected.

So, start taking the above foods today and happy baby feeding!

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