Breast feeding imposes great strain on a mother. An average Indian woman secretes 750 ml of milk per day in the first 6 months after delivery. This declines to 600 ml in the next 6 months. Food eaten by a nursing mother enables her to produce milk.
Nursing mothers need 25 gm more of protein than their routine requirements. Pulses, nuts, milk , eggs and meat are excellent sources of protein. An adequate intake of milk products, vegetables and fruits easily meet other nutrition requirements. Some doctors also recommend vitamin and mineral supplements.
Follow the five meal pattern:
Follow the five meal pattern – breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, evening snack and dinner. Drink plenty of water 10-12 glasses to ensure an adequate supply of breast milk. Soup, milk, juices provide additional fluids. However restrict the intake of caffeine to two cups per day, as it may cause the baby to be restless.
Turnips, citrus fruits, onions, cabbage, spices, garlic and cauliflower may irritate the baby by giving him gas or changing the taste of the milk. When nursing, observe your baby for any signs of discomfort. Eliminate foods that bother the baby.
Consume galactogogues – Milk, Zeera, Methi , Ajwain , Saunf and Nuts are nutritional supplements that are said to increase production of breast milk.
Pregnant and nursing mothers should restrict intake of certain fish, particularly sardines, because of their high mercury and PCB exposure.
Avoid the bad habits:
Avoid smoking totally. Nicotine in tobacco passes directly through breast milk to the baby. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea and restlessness in the baby as well as decrease the mother’s milk output. Even passive smoke may increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Alcohol passes through the milk in less than an hour. You may drink an occasional glass of wine after a feeding session. Not more than that.
Take no medication without a doctor’s consultation. Mothers who must take daily medication for conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes or high blood pressure should first check with the child’s pediatrician.
Stay away from insecticides. Try using natural insect repellents such as citronella.
Exercise and relax right!
Exercise right! Aerobic exercise has no adverse effect on the production of breast milk. However strenuous exercise forms lactic acid which makes the breast milk sour.
Finally, the mother must sit down, put her feet up and relax every few hours to nurse. Nursing at night is easy and convenient as well. Since nursing uses up a lot of calories, it is easier for a nursing mother to lose the extra fat and weight put on during pregnancy.