Lactation and Nutritional Requirements for Breastfeeding

lactation mother feeding baby

Lactation is the process during which the breasts start producing milk for feeding the baby and it starts when you are still pregnant. It causes changes in the breasts, some of which can be unpleasant. Usually, lactation starts as early as 3 to 4 months of pregnancy. The first sign is leakage of fluid which is typically golden, yellowish, or creamy in color. The fluid might discharge anytime but you will see the fluid coming when the breasts are massaged. Other than this, your breasts might enlarge, swell or tender.

What Studies say about Lactation?

According to Nutrition MD, the diet of the mother has a profound effect on the baby. Whatever you eat, your baby eats too. That’s why it is highly important for a lactating mother to take care of her nutritional needs. During high lactation, you must continue consuming protein and calories. A breastfeeding mother needs 300 to 400 calories for the first 12 months of breastfeeding. It is easy to fulfill the nutritional needs of a newborn. The healthiest sources are vegetables, fruits, legumes, seeds, nuts and not to mention whole grains. The best diet is known to be the vegan diet supplemented by Vitamin B12. It helps in protecting yourself from illnesses along with ensuring optimal health.

According to the UCSF Medical Center, the nutritional requirements for breastfeeding are the same as that of pregnancy. New mothers are recommended to continue the same eating habits as they used to during pregnancy. The calories required by a breastfeeding mother should always come from nutritious food.

lactation requirement for mothers

Essential Minerals for Lactation

Other than protein and calories, there are other minerals that a woman needs for lactation. Let’s have a look:

  • Calcium: A breastfeeding mother needs 1,300 mg of calcium per day. The best sources of calcium are cheese, yogurt, milk, calcium-fortified orange juice, and tofu.
  • Iron: A pregnant women who is 18 years old or younger needs 10 mg of iron per day whereas those over 19 need 9 mg of iron per day. The best sources are dried beans, fruit, egg yolks, poultry, meat, and seafood.
  • Vitamin C: Lactation calls for some extra amount of vitamin C. Women who are 18 years or young need 115 mg whereas women who are 19 years or older need 120 mg of vitamin C per day. The best sources are citrus fruits, potato, kiwi, cabbage, cauliflower, tomato, broccoli and bell pepper.
  • Water needs: It is not just vitamins and minerals that are necessary for lactation, water is essential too. You need at least 8 ounces of water per day along with consuming other liquids like soups, broths, milk, herbal teas, and juices.

What should you decide being a Mother?

The mother’s decision to breastfeed plays a major role in successful lactation. All mothers make the decision about breastfeeding prior to the delivery but the problem is that they don’t learn about infant nutrition which purely depends on their diet. It is crucial for new mothers to learn about lactation and nutrition so that they can take care of the process in a better way. Nevertheless, this process is natural and it needs to be handled with care.

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