“To eat is one thing, but to eat intelligently; That is the Art of Nutrition”
Oyetolani Olaoye-Fasehun RD
If you have someone around you, who just gave birth, or you are a pregnant woman, a pregnant man. Oh sorry! I mean a man with a pregnant woman…, or better still; You might just have this information for yourself. Either way, this information will come in handy for you, let’s dive into the topic!
First things first, what is Lactation?
Lactating is Breastfeeding simply put! In scientific terms, it is a natural physiological process of the female mammals that occurs in the post-partum period (after delivery), when a mother’s breast discharge milk and suckles her offspring (please don’t worry your head about that).
Why is this Stage important?
Do you know that milk secreted by a breastfeeding mother is all that is needed to fulfill her infant’s entire nutrient and Calorie needs to grow for the 1st 6 MONTHS OF LIFE! This is the most critical stage in the life cycle… When an infant’s growth rate and Nutrient needs are lifetime high!!!
So, when you see a mother breastfeeding her baby, do not feel irritated because your mother did the same thing for you to survive!
WHERE DOES THE BREAST MILK COME FROM?
Breast of course! Ok. Breast milk comes majorly from the Mothers Diet and Nutrient stored up in her body. So you better watch what you eat!
Every human body stores up nutrient regularly. The body never uses up the entire nutrient from the foods we eat. Some are stored up for future use.
Part of the breast milk comes from the fat, protein, etc accumulation that the nursing mother has stored up during pregnancy. Usually, the body draws from these stores to produce milk when she starts breastfeeding.
These should help with easy weight loss (which many women crave after birth) if she also increases her activity level as she breastfeeds. This is a plus for overweight women. Excited?! I’m on your side!
Care must be taken, however, by underweight women who are not feeding well (you see, no hiding place)! If Adequate calorie intakes drop, a breastfeeding mother of BMI <18.5KG/m2, WON’T BE ABLE TO PRODUCE MILK FOR HER GROWING INFANT!
So what’s the way out? No worries help is underway!
Also Note that some mothers are not able to breastfeed for some other reasons, as their bodies may not produce the needed milk for the child. In this case, other methods advised by the Physician or Registered dietitian can be used.
FOOD TO EAT WHEN BREAST FEEDING
Are there specific diets a nursing mother can take to encourage more milk production? No! There is no such food. Although many cultures believe certain foods like beer or garlic boost milk production, hmmm.
Scientifically, there is no evidenced research backing the myth that a type of food helps a woman produce more milk. Breast milk production is purely a physiologic process meaning it is natural. However, the psychological state e.g. stress, of a nursing mother can greatly determine if she lactates well or not.
Meanwhile, there is good evidence that certain substances in the mother’s food may pass into the breast milk and affect the infant positively or negatively (when in high dosage). Example:
Yes water! Water can perform wonders. A breastfeeding mother needs to take at least 3litres of water a day. Is that much? Don’t worry, you can make up your water needs from fruits like watermelon, orange, pineapple, apple, and you have to still drink water!
And ATTENTION, please! If you are breastfeeding and you are not producing enough milk, Milk production has nothing to do with breast size!
So let me ask you; Are you drinking lots of Water? What about your fluid intake in beverages, pepper soups, and soft diets, are they included in your diet? Ehennn. You see?
On a Final note,
MINERALS AND VITAMINS
A second major mineral is Calcium, which the mother needs to replenish the lost calcium at pregnancy and lactation, to avoid the danger of future bone disorders like osteoporosis; Supplements may be used if the food source is unavailable but under the Physician or Registered dietitians’ supervision.
Food sources of Calcium include Milk, yoghurts, fortified cereals, tofu and Salmon. Others include, fish, fortified grain, locust beans, white eyed beans, and brown rice which are highly essential here.
And finally, OMEGA 3 FATTY ACID is another big guy needed by the lactating mother! Where can you find that? In Fishes, like Mackerel, Salmon, Tuna, etc.
But sadly these are the kinds of food breastfeeding mothers don’t like eating. Please try!!!
And thanks for reading, did you learn something? Let us know in your comments below. Till we catch up on our gist later, Go, eat to live, don’t live to eat!