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5 diet dos and dont's during breastfeeding

What should you eat during breastfeeding and what to avoid? Does a lactating mother need a special diet? All your queries on diet and breastfeeding answered by our lactation expert.

Written by Bhavyajyoti Chilukoti |Updated : April 22, 2016 2:46 PM IST

Be it during pregnancy or after delivery, we Indians focus a lot on eating healthy. Because it is believed that a mother's diet plays a key role in providing the proper nutrition for the growth and development of the newborn. If this is the case, then does a lactating mother need a special diet to improve breast milk supply? Does a mother's diet have any impact on the quality of the breast milk and also on the nutrient availability to the infant? Do you need to cut down on intake of cold beverages, if you are lactating? Dr Geetika Gangwani, Business Manager, Fortis Mamma Mia, Lactation Consultant at IBCLC, Member of Medela s LC Club clears all the air about diet during breastfeeding.

Does mother s diet have any impact on the quality of breast milk?

According to Dr Geetika, a mother s diet as such doesn t have an impact on the quality and composition of breast milk. Because on one hand, there are mothers whose diet is very basic and on the other hands, there are people who can include expensive and nutrient-rich foods in their diet. Hence, the quality of breast milk doesn t depend on the mother s diet. Having said that, if the mother is severely malnourished or fails to eat a balanced diet, then it can affect the quality of breast milk. The macronutrients like carbohydrates and proteins might be the same, but there might be a slight change in the fat content, depending on the mother s diet. Here s how you can prevent saggy breasts after breastfeeding.

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Does a lactating mother need a special diet?

If you have a single baby, then a mother needs 500 extra calories and for mothers feeding twins, a diet with 700 - 800 extra calories is recommended. For example, if the diet of the mother is 2000 - 2400 during pregnancy, while lactating, the overall caloric intake should be increased by 500 calories, taking the total calorie count to 2500 2900 calories. Other than that, foods which may have preservatives and artificial sweeteners should be eaten in moderation. However, eating a balanced diet is what is needed by a lactating mother, suggests Dr Geetika. Here's how to increase breast milk supply naturally with these 10 foods.

Is it true that whatever the breastfeeding mother eats is passed to the baby?

Whatever food a mother eats breaks down into carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and micronutrients. These nutrietns are then transferred from the blood to the breast, where milk is produced. So if a mother eats spinach, there will be iron and other micronutrients in the breast milk. So if a mother maintains a healthy diet, the same nutrients will be passed on to the baby. However, if the mother s diet is lower in nutrients, the body reserves of the mother will start leaching into breast milk. So whatever reserves the mother has like iron and vitamin K, will be passed into breast milk. In such a case, the infant might get nutrients but the mother s health will deteriorate.

Does drinking cold beverages during lacatation have any effect on the baby?

Drinking cold beverages during breastfeeding has no effect on the infant's health, says Dr Geetika. As a cold beverage reaches the stomach, it will be neutralised according to the body's temperature and absorbed in the blood. Hence, the temperature of the beverage doesn't have any effect on the infant. Here's more on can drinking cold beverages during breastfeeding give the baby a cold?

Should you avoid eating spicy food during breastfeeding?

In India, mothers are advised against eating spicy food for at least 40 days, because post-delivery, there are high chances of the mother suffering from constipation. Hence, to help the digestive system recover, we recommend lactating mothers to eat less spicy food for a few days after the delivery. Also, read about a step-by-step breastfeeding guide for new mums.

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