Dietary Care During Lactation

Dietary Care During Lactation

Meeting the needs of lactation requires a varied nutrient-dense diet. Generally, a well- balanced diet will meet nutrient needs of the mother.
Whenever feasible, food shouldbe the source of nutrients and self-initiated vitamin and mineral supplements shouldbe avoided. The dietary intake of caffeine, artificial sweeteners and alcohol must betotally avoided. This is because most chemicals ingested by the lactating mother cross into the MILK. Therefore, the mother should seek the advice of her physician beforetaking any dietary supplement, any medication or drugs such as caffeine and alcohol,which also pass into the milk and consequently ‘affects infant.
Excess caffeine maymake the infant irritable and wakefill, but the research indicates that moderate amounts of caffeine (1-2 cups of coffee per day) will not harm or upset the infant.
Large doses of coffee may interfere with availability of iron from Milk. Alcohol may impair the Milk ejection reflex, therefore, it is prudent to avoid alcohol intake when lactating.
Further, infants metabolize alcohol inefficiently. Smoking also reduces milk volume.Infant exposure to passive smoke negates the protective effect of breastfeeding and offers against sudden infant death syndrome.
Foods with a strong flavour may alter the flavour of milk. A few infants may besensitive to particular foods e.g. cow’s milk protein. Hence, when the mother’s dietincludes such foods, the infants may experience discomfort. However, this may nothappen to most of the infants.
In general, the mother can eat whatever she likes. However, if she suspects that aparticular food is causing the infant discomfort, she should consult the physician. If the food is eliminated for an extended time, appropriate foods should be substituted to ensure nutrient adequacy.

Other Concerns during Breastfeeding

Let us look into some special concerns during breastfeeding that might be useful
*Medical Consideration*:
This is an area, which needs consideration. If a mother has a communicable disease like tuberculosis or hepatitis that could threaten the infant’s health, then the mother and baby have to be separated. The mother can express her milk several times a day and feed the infant. In case of a mother with HIV infections, though the virus can be transmitted to the baby through milk, breast feeding the baby yet protects the infant. Women with chronic diseases such as Type I diabetes continue to need careful monitoring and counseling to ensure successful lactation. They need to adjust their energy intakes and insulin doses to meet the heightened needs of lactation. Maintaining good glucose control helps to initiate lactation and support milk production.
Many drugs are compatible with breastfeeding, but some medications are contraindicated either because they suppress lactation or can be secreted into breast milk and thus harm the infant, As a precaution, therefore, the mother should consult her physician before taking any drug.
 Weight Loss:
Some women may want to return quickly to their pre-pregnancy weight.It is important to remember that some women will lose more, whereas others may maintain or even gain weight. Moderate to severe caloric restriction and rapid weight loss is not recommended because it can decrease milk production. This is especially important in the early weeks of lactation before the process is firmly established.
Therefore, a gradual rate of weight loss in the first 6 months and that exercise is the best way to reduce excess weight. However, intense exercise can raise the lactic acid concentration of breast milk which influences the taste of milk. A study has shown that infants appear to prefer milk produced prior to exercise. Among well-nourished mothers, those who exercised demonstrated a higher level of fitness, a lower percentage of body fat and higher level of energy expenditure as compared to sedentary women.
Exercising women tended to have a higher milk volume. It has been recommended that energy intakes should not fall below 1500 Kcal/ day at any time during lactation. The cost of providing adequate nutritional support to the mother depends mostly on foods she can afford and selects. The cost of providing appropriate foods for the lactating mother is cheaper than feeding the infant with animal milk, if economical food choices are made. Human milk is a vital national resource, which could markedly improve the health and nutritional status of children.
This section briefed upon the nutritional requirements of the mother during lactation and some general dietary and medical considerations to be borne in mind for maintaining a safe and healthy lactation.


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Kurves n Smiles – Nutrition & DMIT

Dr Hemal Barchha


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