The Ideal Diet During Lactation
The process of lactation requires energy. The additional energy required is based on the volume of milk secreted, its energy content and the efficiency of conversion of food energy into milk energy. Women secrete up to 850 ml milk per day at 80% efficiency of conversion of food energy into milk energy. All these changes demand a change in the woman’s lifestyle including her dietary habits, to cope up with the increased requirement of nutrients.
Oddly enough, Carbohydrates should make up 55 percent of total diet calories, Low carbohydrate intake is associated with fatigue, dehydration, and energy loss. As a lactating mother you should obtain carbohydrates from foods such as whole-grain breads and cereals, fresh fruits, and vegetables and avoid simple sugars found in soft drinks and juice products labeled as “drinks.’’ Soluble carbohydrate fiber such as pectins and gums (found in fruits-apples, citrus fruits, strawberries, etc.) helps to reduce serum cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease. Insoluble carbohydrate fiber, such as cellulose and hemicellulose (found in fruit and vegetable pulp and skins) helps to prevent constipation and to reduce the incidence of colon cancer.
During lactation, extra protein demand is incurred for the production of milk. Protein from animal sources contains all of the essential amino acids. Protein from vegetable sources may be low in one or more of the essential amino acids. Surprisingly, Rice contains all of the essential amino acids although in less-than-optimal quantities. When rice is mixed with small quantities of meat or fish, it becomes very ideal for you.
How important are extra vitamin pills and supplements if I breastfeed?
If you eat a healthful diet and you and your baby get plenty of sunshine (30 minutes per week), there should be no need to take extra vitamins.
Is it true that caffeine makes breastfed babies jittery (restless)?
Most studies do not support this expectation. The amounts of caffeine found in infants are usually very small, in other cases, they are undetectable.
I hate to drink milk. Does this mean I cannot breastfeed?
Drinking milk and making breastmilk are not related. You should think about the nutrients available from milk and get them from other foods.
Am I at risk for osteoporosis from calcium loss when I breastfeed my baby?
No. Breastfeeding for 6 months or longer is the best protection against bone loss. Although calcium is mobilized during breastfeeding, hormones increase calcium absorption and limit the amount of calcium that is excreted.