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Breastfeeding - what you need to eat

Written by Dr Reshma Nayak |Updated : August 6, 2013 12:14 PM IST

Breast feeding

World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August in more than 170 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration made by WHO and UNICEF policy-makers in August 1990 to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is the best way to provide newborns with the nutrients they need. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding until a baby is six months old, and continued breastfeeding with the addition of nutritious complementary foods for up to two years or beyond.

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It is a testing time for new moms both physically and psychologically. The change in routine, the sleepless nights will leave any strong new mom frazzled and tired, not in any mood to eat anything healthy.

Firstly, according to ICMR (Indian council of medical research), you need upto an extra 550-700 Kcal/day if you are actively breastfeeding.

You need a good mix of all healthy nutrients:

- At least three servings of fresh fruits
- At least two servings of veggies
- Milk products, pulses and chicken for your protein intake
- Beans, dals, chana, green leafy veggies, raisins, egg yolks for that extra iron
-Lots of yoghurt, cheese, paneer for high calcium

You can go easy on ghee-laden laddoos and sweets your family must be loading you with.

Make sure you have lots of water to keep you hydrated. Milk supply is usually affected due to dehydration.If you can't keep drinking water - have fruit juice, lasi, chaas, lime water - any form is fine.

If you were taking prenatal vitamins and want to continue doing so, consult your doctor.

Avoid caffeine-containing foods like coffee, tea, chocolate. Avoid very spicy or oily food.

Remember, breastfeeding is not exactly the time to cut down on calories severely to lose weight. It should ideally take around a year to return to your pre-pregnancy weight. Exercise regularly for around 45 minutes and cut down on very fatty or oily foods.

Breastfeeding is nature's way of passing on nutrition and immunity to the baby. Breastfeeding moms also tend to lose weight more easily than the ones who don't. The bonding created during this period is one that lasts forever. So, enjoy the phase, eat right and you're doing alright!

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