For the 9 months during pregnancy a women takes care of herself in ways she normally would not have. Eating better, getting more rest (or trying to), seeing the doctor much more often and drinking her supplements, all to make sure that her baby grows healthy and strong.
And when baby is here and she decides to breastfeed exclusively, well in most cases the help offered ends and mom is left on her own and the truth is, it is also during this period of exclusively breastfeeding your baby, the extra care for yourself need to continue. Yes for her baby, but also for her own health because poor diet (especially intake) has been linked to poor health, and when a mommy’s health is not well it affects her ability to both breastfeed and make breastmilk.
A women’s body starts producing breastmilk from 16 weeks (+- 4 months) gestation. And breastmilk itself meets the baby’s nutritional needs at every single stage of the baby’s age. Mommy however can help her body adjust to the breastmilk making process and even exclusive during breastfeeding by continuing that extra care that is need. But what exactly is that extra care mommy requires?
Making breastmilk takes energy from the mother meaning her body has higher energy demands and because the body uses moe energy, it is important to make sure you have a little extra to compensate for the added energy needs. This means making sure you have a good eating pattern and with a variety of food groups daily and very important keeping hydrated.
Side note: Just because you need more calories does not mean it should be empty calories. Its always good to make sure the calories you get comes from food that will provide vitamins and minerals your body need. Which brings us to our next point of order….
Just like during pregnancy, during exclusive breastfeeding, mommy also needs to make sure she gets vitamins and minerals daily. Some mommies opt to continue taking multivitamins, but it generally is not needed as a diet good in variety can provide her with the much needed vitamins and minerals she needs. However, do consult with your medical professional if you decide you want to take a multivitamin supplement.
The mothers food intake does not influence the nutrients in the mom’s breastmilk, but having a good eating pattern and staying hydrated does help the body stay in good health for breastmilk production.
There is a few key nutrients mommy needs to take note of
- Calcium – dairy and dairy products
- Iron – meat, organ meats, beans, lentils,
- Folate – fortified foods, dark green leafy vegetables, wholegrains.
The country’s maize is fortified with both iron and folate. These fortified products include cereals, porridges, bread and any product where you see the food fortification logo on.
As a society, we can also make the breast-feeding journey a little bit easier for the new mommies.
- Restaurants can have a breastfeeding friendly policy promoting the practice of breastfeeding in their establishments.
- shopping malls can set-up a separate and safe space for mom’s to breastfed whenever necessary
- The South African law protects and support exclusive breastfeeding. For more on this click here .
Breastfeeding is a one women action, but needs the support of all of us to be a success and a norm. Hit the share button and spread the information 🙂