It is needless to elaborate the benefits of mother’s milk and its contribution to the overall child growth in the initial years of his life. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, human milk should be the preferred food for all infants. Apart from its nutritive value, mother’s milk is readily available round the clock and newborns can be fed any time of the day at any place. Breastfeeding is the primary and most vital step for parenting, and it carries some advantages for the mothers as well.
Since mother’s milk is most recommended and safest food for the newborns, mothers should ensure enough supply of milk so that their newborns do not remain underfed. This will seriously hamper the overall growth and nutrition of the newborns.
Breastfeeding demands additional calories than normal physiological processes and therefore foods for breastfeeding mothers should be high in calories and rich in essential minerals and vitamins. Insufficient nutrition of the breastfeeding mothers may seriously hinder the production of milk. Many nursing mothers worry about post partum weight gain, especially those belonging to the overweight category. In such cases, a pediatrician or dietician can formulate an ideal diet chart beneficial for the mother. Breastfeeding mothers should not go for dieting without prior consultation.
Top 12 Foods For Breastfeeding Mothers:
The following foods for breastfeeding mothers will ensure a steady supply of milk for infants and mothers will be glad to observe the rewarding effects of breastfeeding.
1. Foods Rich in Calcium:
The calcium requirement for breastfeeding mothers rises sharply and they should increase their regular calcium intake consuming low fat dairy products. Insufficient calcium intake may deplete the bone mass of the nursing mother. Normally, a mother can regain the bone mass within few months after weaning. It is estimated that a nursing mother requires about 1000 mg of Calcium daily. A glass of skimmed milk, a cup of low fat yoghurt and cheese are considered to be the best foods for breastfeeding mothers. A glass of milk will provide 600mg of calcium while a cup of yogurt provides 415 mgs of calcium.
2. Foods Rich in DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid):
DHA, a type of omega- 3- fatty acid, is one of the essential nutrients responsible for the development of brain, eyes and other neurological functioning of the body system. Mother’s milk with enough DHA content promotes brain development and learning ability of the newborn. Oily fish like salmon, shark, mackerel, herring, sardine, swordfish and tuna contain high levels of DHA. Make sure that these fish do not contain contaminated mercury before including in the diet. This will pose serious threats to the mother and newborn.
3. Lean Meat:
Iron is another essential mineral necessary to maintain the energy levels of the breastfeeding mothers. Iron is also essential for building red blood cells in infants. Moreover, mothers need extra protein and Vitamin B-12 during nursing. Lean beef or lean meat is a readily available source of iron and is one of the important foods for breastfeeding mothers.
Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration during breast feeding. Mothers should keep themselves well hydrated to ensure sufficient supply of milk, and that will also maintain their energy levels. Soups, juices and milk can be other options besides water. Avoid excessive intake of caffeinated beverages. Presence of caffeine in the breast milk may raise the irritation levels of your baby causing sleep disturbances.
5. Whole Grains:
Enjoy your breakfast with whole grains that will maintain your energy levels and keep you full for a longer time. It will ease out your tension regarding post partum weight gain.
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Oat meal porridges with fruits and nuts can be an excellent choice for breakfast. Many whole grain cereal packs are fortified with essential vitamins, beneficial for the breastfeeding mother.
Eggs are rich sources of Vitamin D essential for strong bones of the baby and to maintain the bone density of the mothers. Egg is the cheapest source of protein that can be taken in a number of ways, boiled egg being the most recommended one. Egg contains 9 essential amino acids and the essential mineral Choline, responsible for the development of the nervous system. It is one of the prime source of protein and one of the best foods for breastfeeding mothers.
Blueberries, rich in antioxidants and vitamins can be considered as one of the power foods for breastfeeding mothers. It is recommended that nursing mothers should take 2-3 servings of fruits daily, and blueberries can be the best choice. High in calories, these berries help to maintain the energy levels of the breastfeeding mothers.
8. Green Leafy Vegetables:
There are unlimited nutritional benefits of leafy greens and is the most important food for breastfeeding mothers. They are the rich sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Iron, calcium and antioxidants. They increase the quality and quantity of breast milk and being low in calories prevent post partum weight gain of the mothers. Make sure to include spinach, broccoli and cabbage in your daily diet.
9. Brown Rice:
This is one of the best foods for breastfeeding mothers especially those who are overweight. Instead of adopting dieting or cutting down your calorie intake drastically, you can choose brown rice as the alternative source of nutrients and energy. American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends brown rice for breastfeeding mothers.
10. Whole Grain Bread:
Bread from whole wheat is highly nutritious for breastfeeding mothers as this provides a rich source of Folic acid. Doctors lay enough stress on Folic acid supplements during pregnancy, and it is also important post pregnancy for the overall growth of the baby. Whole wheat bread and pasta are high in fiber that helps to check post partum weight gain.
11. Beans And Legumes:
These form a vital source of vegetarian protein and are quite inexpensive. Red kidney beans are rich in Folates and other minerals essential for the mother and baby. Moreover, it is also beneficial in checking weight gain of the mothers post pregnancy.
This fruit rich in Vitamin C is another good food for breastfeeding mothers. It is well known that breastfeeding mothers need more Vitamin C intake than during pregnancy. Orange can also be taken as a healthy snack. The fiber and mineral content of this fruit helps as energy boosters for the breastfeeding mothers.