Food hacks for lactating mothers in the festive season

Breastfeeding mothers must continue to follow dietary rules during the festive season, such as staying off aerated drinks and alcohol.

By Dr Seema Khanna

Food plays an important role in any festival. But, eating right during the festive season is key to staying healthy and celebrating it happily. Nursing mothers, to be specific, have to be very careful about their diet. Following a nutritious diet gives the baby healthy thick milk, which helps in a speedy and steady growth of the child.

The phase of lactation requires an extra 500 kcal to be included in the diet of a breastfeeding mother. They are advised to consume a healthy diet with good proportions of proteins, vitamins, iron and calcium. Women can continue the healthy eating policy that they were following in pregnancy.

Here is some nutrition advice that should be followed, particularly during festivals:

– Aerated drinks and alcohol are not permissible. Instead, consume healthier options to stay hydrated such as fresh fruit juices, tender coconut, lassi and lime juice.

– Protein-packed foods, such as whole grains, cereals, pulses, dried fruits, fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs and chicken, are good for the mother and baby.

– Traditionally, lactating females are given food loaded with ghee. As ghee can lead to increase in weight, it is a smart step to switch over to fresh fruits, milk, yoghurt and juices instead.

– Also, women should consume supplements like iron and calcium in the postpartum period for up to 3 months.

– Water is crucial in ensuring a regular supply of milk. An intake of 16-18 glasses of water a day is important as this helps in maintaining the consistency of milk.

– Oatmeal or porridge is a must for working mothers. It is light and provides the right nutrition. Lactating mothers are advised to have oats as part of their diet as it helps reduce cholesterol and regulate blood pressure.

– Garlic is another common ingredient found in the vegetable compartment of our fridge. Adding garlic to your food not only enhances your cooking but also increases milk supply.

– Making carrots a part of your diet is important. Carrots are a great source of beta-carotene, which is very beneficial for lactating mothers.

Also read: Is it safe for pregnant women to fast during Navratri?

Foods to avoid during lactation:

Caffeine: Consuming too much caffeine can disturb your baby’s sleep, making the child fussy. Control your caffeine intake to one cup of coffee per day.

Alcohol: Consumption of alcohol should be restricted since it gets mixed with the breast milk.

Processed foods: Avoiding processed food is the wisest decision for nursing mothers. Processed foods deteriorate healthy nutrient consumption in both, mothers and babies, and lead to nutrient deficiency.

It is really important to maintain a healthy diet plan throughout the phase of breastfeeding. Eating junk can be done once in a blue moon. But, regular junk consumption of outside food can prove to b harmful for the baby. Freshly cooked food at home can do wonders for your own health and for the proper growth of the baby.

(The writer is a consultant nutritionist.)

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