Mother is a very important part of our lives. Every child looks up to his or her mother. When a woman enters the phase of motherhood, it's a new chapter and beginning for her. Pregnancy is the first stage of motherhood. The next stage is the lactating phase which is also called the breastfeeding stage. With motherhood comes many responsibilities in terms of the child and its nutrition. But, let us not ignore the nutrition and its importance for the breastfeeding mother which in return will be beneficial for the child.
Why is Nutrition Important for Breastfeeding Mothers?
Juggling between home, work, children, and family, women tend to ignore their health and nutrition. Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers need to take extra care about their health wellness. A pregnant and lactating mother will be feeding herself and her child too which needs some special attention. By nutrition for new mothers, we do just mean “extra calories” or “extra meals.” We mean a good content and comprehensive approach to holistic nutrition to stimulate and produce more breast milk for the babies which provides them effective immunity.
A sudden responsibility of a tiny baby causes a lot of turmoil in a new mother’s life with all physical and emotional changes. In addition to the baby, it is important to take care of yourself too. Proper nutrition is a vital part of care especially when you are breastfeeding. When you consume the right amount of vitaminsand minerals, and all essential nutrients you are not only taking care of yourself but also helping the baby to grow and develop.
What is The Importance of Breast Milk for The Baby?
Breast milk is the first source of nutrition for the better immunity of the child. It contains immunoglobulins and certain immunity boosters which help in protecting the child from infections and stimulate his growth. A baby should always be breastfed for initial 6 months after the child is born for better nutrition, immunity, and future health.
Which Healthy Nutrients Should A Breastfeeding Mother Consume?
Let us have a look at 9 essential nutrients for breastfeeding mothers.
Iron is a very important nutrient for breastfeeding mothers for a number of reasons like the immune system, circulatory system (blood), and development of the nervous system. Keeping your iron levels high will make your breast milk more nutritious and healthy.
Let us not forget that deficiency of iron may cause IDA (Iron Deficiency Anaemia) which may cause hair loss, fatigue, and impaired hair loss. Make sure to have enough iron and make sure it is absorbed properly. In conjunction with an iron supplement, it is important to consume vitamin C which helps in the absorption of iron.
2. Vitamin C
Consuming a good amount and highly absorbable form of vitamin C can not only boost immunity but helps in the absorption of iron, zinc, and other minerals. Vitamin C is a great supplement for treating inflammation and acts as a potent antioxidant. It is beneficial for breastfeeding mothers for treating cold-like symptoms and keeping immunity at its best. The recommended daily amount of Vitamin C for a breastfeeding mother is at least 120g and better to take 500-1000g. Along with this, they should consume citrus fruits, spinach, and strawberries to get an extract punch of Vitamin C.
This is a very important macronutrient whether you are a breastfeeding mother or not. In pregnancy or postpartum period, this is a very important nutrient. Protein is essential for creating cells of muscles, bones, and body tissue. Increased protein intake can help mothers to recover from pregnancy and childbirth. It helps the mother to heal with good immunity.
The amount of nutrients required depends on the age, height, and weight of the mother. It is important to calculate your protein requirement and intake daily when you are breastfeeding the child. Protein can be consumed from a variety of sources like meat, eggs, seafood, tofu, nuts, beans, and dairy products.
4. Vitamin A
Vitamin A can help maintain a healthy immune system and fight infection. It is a very important vitamin for eye health and vision. The deficiency of vitamin A is caused by digestive issues where there is a problem with absorption. The recommended dose of Vitamin A is 2300 International Units (IU). Along with choosing the right postnatal vitamin, you can get vitamin A from oranges, spinach, and other fruits and vegetables.
5. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is very important for the formation of red blood cells also known as RBCs. It is very important for the breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. It helps in healthy metabolism. Vitamin B6 can be consumed from fish, poultry, bananas, and whole grains. Vitamin B6 should be consumed by breastfeeding mothers daily for a healthy metabolic process.
6. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is a very important vitamin for neurodevelopment and helps in the proper conduction of nerve impulses. It is important for the production of red cells just like Vitamin B6 and forms an essential part of the Vitamin B complex family. A good amount of Vitamin B12 helps in the proper functioning of cells and improves fatigue and tiredness. Vitamin B12 is obtained from meat, dairy, eggs, and animal products. It is important for vegan breastfeeding mothers to take the help of VitaminB12 supplements. Choosing a proper supplement is important and it's recommended that breastfeeding mothers should get 1000mcg of Vitamin B12 daily.
All of us are aware that calcium is essential for bone development. Apart from this calcium also plays an important role in other bodily functions. The circulatory, nervous and muscular systems all require a good amount to function well. Intake of calcium should increase during pregnancy and especially in breastfeeding mothers as the child is in the developmental stage. Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers must consume 1000 mg of calcium daily.
Low-fat dairy products and yogurt are good sources of calcium. Spinach is also a good source of calcium.
8. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is very essential and helps with the absorption of calcium. Vitamin D has many other beneficial effects on the immune system and other bodily functions. Vitamin D plays a major role in strengthening the musculoskeletal system. Lack of vitamin D can cause lower immunity and many other health issues which can be difficult to deal with. A pregnant and breastfeeding mother should consume good amounts of calcium and vitamin D. The sources of vitamin D are egg yolks, salmon, and sunshine and you can also take enough vitamin D supplements to fulfil the need.
9. Essential minerals like zinc
Breastfeeding mothers must consume essential vitamins and minerals in their daily diet. This helps maintain immunity at its best. During the parturition phase or childbirth, there might be loss and deficiency of minerals. These minerals are present in small amounts but very essential for the body. Consuming healthy sources of minerals after the baby is born will provide you with great energy and stay active. It will also help fight any mental issues, especially postpartum depression. Make sure to consume all essential minerals daily during breastfeeding.
Now, you are aware of all essential nutrient elements which must be consumed by breastfeeding mothers. So make sure to choose a healthy lifestyle which will help for proper growth and development of the mother as well as the baby.