Breastfeeding nutrition: essential nutrients for mother and baby
Breastfeeding, also known as lactation, is a natural process that provides numerous benefits to both the mother and baby.
Breast milk is a unique and highly nutritious source of food for newborns, containing all the vital nutrients necessary for their growth and development.
To ensure optimal breastfeeding success, it's crucial for nursing mothers to prioritise their nutrition, as their dietary choices can directly impact the quality and quantity of breast milk produced.
Nutrients for Nursing Mothers:
Protein: Protein is essential for the production of breast milk and aids in tissue repair and growth. Good sources of protein for nursing mothers include lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Calcium: Calcium is crucial for bone health, both for the mother and the developing baby. Calcium-rich foods such as dairy products, leafy green vegetables, fortified cereals, and calcium supplements can help nursing mothers meet their daily calcium requirements.
Iron: Iron is important for maintaining the mother's energy levels and preventing iron-deficiency anaemia. Iron-rich foods like red meat, poultry, fish, beans, lentils, fortified cereals, and leafy green vegetables are beneficial for nursing mothers.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), are critical for the baby's brain and eye development. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, flaxseeds, and chia seeds are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Fluids: Staying hydrated is essential for nursing mothers, as breastfeeding can increase the body's fluid needs. Drinking plenty of water, herbal teas, and other healthy beverages can help maintain adequate hydration levels.
Vitamins and Minerals: Nursing mothers should also ensure they are getting adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, vitamin B12, vitamin C, zinc, and iodine, through a well-balanced diet or supplements as needed.
Nutrients for Breastfed Babies:
Carbohydrates: Breast milk contains carbohydrates in the form of lactose, which provides energy for the baby's growing brain and body.
Fat: Breast milk is rich in healthy fats, including long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) like DHA, which are crucial for the baby's brain and eye development.
Protein: Breast milk provides the baby with the necessary proteins for growth and development.
Vitamins and Minerals: Breast milk is a good source of essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, and zinc, which are important for the baby's overall health and development.
Use a Nursing Pillow: A nursing pillow can help support the baby and mother's comfort during breastfeeding, ensuring a proper latch and reducing strain on the mother's arms, back, and neck.
Practise Good Nutrition: As mentioned earlier, maintaining a well-balanced diet with adequate nutrients is crucial for breastfeeding success. A healthy diet can help ensure the mother produces high-quality breast milk for the baby.
Breastfeed Frequently: Breast milk production is a demand-and-supply process. Breastfeeding frequently, at least 8-12 times per day, can help stimulate milk production and maintain a good milk supply.
Take Care of Yourself: Breastfeeding can be physically and emotionally demanding. It's important for nursing mothers to prioritise self-care, including getting enough rest, managing stress, and seeking support when needed.
Consider supplements: Vitamin D is beneficial for both Mum and baby as it is a vital nutrient for healthy bone development in your infant. Breastmilk alone does not provide your infant with the recommended intake alone but it’s vital to ensure a mother's store is sufficient and an infant is being supplemented to reach their recommended daily intake of 400IU.
The development of an infant's gut microbiome is vital during their first 1000 days as it can set them up for later life, Bifikalm contains two strains of researched friendly bacteria, found naturally in healthy infants' gut, to support the development of a healthy gut and immune system.
We also recommend Zita West Lactakalm. Zita West is our fabulous sister brand, focused on supporting fertility, pregnancy and postpartum journeys. Lactakalm is a friendly bacteria supplement, especially for breastfeeding mothers. It contains a well researched strain of bacteria that has been isolated from healthy breastmilk to help reduce pain when breastfeeding, reduce the risk of infection and reduce the risk of a mother having to stop breastfeeding early
Massage: Massaging the breast can help both empty the ducts and encourage the production of milk. It can also help reduce the risk of infections like mastitis
Seek Professional Help: If a mother experiences challenges or difficulties with breastfeeding, it's important to seek professional help from a lactation consultant or healthcare provider. They can provide guidance and support to overcome any breastfeeding challenges and ensure a successful breastfeeding journey.
It's important to note that while breastfeeding is a way to nourish newborns, it is ultimately a personal choice for mothers. Some mothers may choose not to breastfeed due to various reasons such as health concerns, personal preferences, or lifestyle factors. It's essential to respect and support a mother's decision regarding how she chooses to feed her baby, whether it is through breastfeeding or alternative feeding methods.
Proper nutrition plays a vital role in ensuring successful breastfeeding, as it directly impacts the quality and quantity of breast milk produced.
Nursing mothers should prioritise a well-balanced diet that includes essential nutrients such as protein, calcium, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, fluids, vitamins, and minerals.
Additionally, following breastfeeding tips and seeking professional help when needed can contribute to a positive breastfeeding experience. It's important to remember that breastfeeding is a personal choice, and mothers should feel supported and respected in their feeding decisions.