In light of National Women’s’ month and World Breastfeeding Week 1 – 7 August 2019, I want to uplift all the amazing women out there and focus on the mothers. Carrying little humans and bringing them into life is one of the most admirable wonders for those who have the opportunity. Feeding them for the next couple of months may for some parents be just as a big miracle…
For some moms it may seem a bit overwhelming, especially the first time you try it, but so worth it if you are able to and have the desire. Let us look at a few advantages of breastfeeding:
- Special bonding time between mom and baby
- No sterilisation of bottles needed…and no bottles needed… (unless you need to express your breast milk)
- For every stage of your baby’s life, your breast milk is perfect for that specific time. The nutrition of your milk matches the nutritional needs of your little one.
- Exclusive breastfeeding for longer than 3 months has been linked to reduced risk of atopic dermatitis (eczema), leukaemia (longer than 6 months), lower respiratory infections (incl pneumonia), and gastro-intestinal infections.
- It was also found that mothers who have breastfed have a reduced risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
- Going back to work? No problem! Expressed breastmilk can be kept at room temperature (16 – 29°C) for 3 – 4 hours, 3 days in the fridge (under 4°C), and 6 months in the freezer.
What you eat can also influence the quality of your breastmilk.
Post-partum nutrition and breastfeeding
- AVOID alcohol and smoking as these can harm your breastfeeding baby.
- There is little evidence that either breastmilk volume or nutrient content is adversely affected by gradual postpartum weight loss and exercise. Keeping in mind that the mother’s diet is still adequate in nutrients. Depending on your height and weight, on average a breastfeeding mom needs about 2 cups of fresh fruit, 3 cups of fresh vegetables (incl avocados and olives), 7 servings of whole grains / starchy vegetables (1 serving = 1/3 – ½ cup), 6 servings of lean protein (incl nuts and seeds) (1 serving = 30g), 3 cups of dairy.
- Participation in moderate aerobic exercise (walking, jogging, dancing; 65% to 80% maximum heart rate) 4 days per week should promote a gradual measured weight-loss of 0.5kg / week postpartum.
- Women should consume at least 150g of fish each week, as fatty fish are an important source of Omega-3s. However, lactating women need to limit consumption of fresh tuna, shark, swordfish, orange roughly and escolar to less than 150g per month (due to high levels of mercury which may be harmful to your baby’s nervous system). Lactating women should avoid canned albacore (white) tuna, but may consume up to 300g / week of light canned tuna.
- Maternal intake of allergy and infant colic-associated foods (Dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, and fish) and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbages, etc), cow’s milk, onion, and chocolate have been associated with colic symptoms in exclusively breastfed young infants, but not allergy formation in the child. Eliminate foods one at a time to determine association with infant symptoms.
- Have about 8-10 glasses water / day, and limit caffeinated drinks.
There is no need to follow a special diet while you are breastfeeding. Simply focus on making healthy choices and you and your baby will reap the rewards.
Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first 6 months, and sustained for up to 2 years, with appropriate complementary feeding of infants.
We do however, understand that breastfeeding may for several reasons not be achieved, so whilst we advocate the health benefits of breastfeeding and the “breast is best” stance for both mom and baby, we also recognise that “fed is best” so whether it is breast or bottle – a healthy fed baby is all that matters at the end of the day.