Lactation (Breast feeding) is the process of milk production by the mammary glands that are present within the fatty tissue of the breast. Breast milk is the best food for the body. Colostrum is the first form of breast milk and that should be given to the baby within an hour after birth. Breast milk is a superior source of nutrition for infants. The nutrient content of breast milk is suitable for the new born needs. Breast milk is composed of fine digestible globules and contains all the proteins, vitamins, minerals and energy that babies require. It also provides essential polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are important compounds of the human brain and nervous system. The composition of breast milk is change in response to mother’s diet. Breast milk production is maintained by mother’s proper nutrition and infant suckling. Breast milk is both appropriate and optimal as the sole source of infant nutrition for the first six months of life.
Mother’s Diet Influence the flavor of Breast Milk:
Mother’s diet influences the flavor of breast milk and thereby serves a variety of taste experiences to the baby. Strong flavors, may influence the feeding behavior of the infant. Ingestion of garlic by the mother has been shown to refuse feeding at first and gradually baby gets habituated when exposure is recurrent.
What you should eat and avoid eating during breast feeding:
Sea fish (especially shark, tilefish, mackerel and tuna fish) is the best source of protein, omega- 3 fatty acids as well as mercury. Lactating (Breast feeding) mothers should avoid these fish. Exposure to excessive amount of mercury through breast milk may cause neurological disorder disease. Excess intake of tea, coffee, cocoa and chocolate may affect breast milk, it may make the baby irritable and upset their sleep pattern. Its diuretic effect can also drain the mother’s body and reduce milk production. It is better to advice breast feeding mothers to avoid these foods or reduce the intake.
In general, breast feeding mothers should avoid processed foods, junk foods, fast foods, candy foods, etc as they contain long list of additives. It may allow occasionally in small quantity.
Breast feeding mothers should avoid jack fruits, cauliflower, broccoli and other gas producing vegetables. It leads to irritation and acidity in the baby. Oily, spicy foods and stale foods also produce gases in breast feeding mothers and create irritation and acidity in the baby. It is better to avoid it.
Intake of alcohol can inhibit milk production. Exposure to alcohol during breast feeding may have adverse effects on development of the baby. Ethanol itself readily passes into the milk at concentration approaching those in maternal blood and can produce lethargy and drowsiness in the breast feeding infant.
It is also advisable to avoid smoking, chewing tobacco and its products and self-prescribed medicines or drugs since it can be transferred through breast milk and harm the baby.