A mother’s nutritional needs vary right after giving birth. When the lactation period begins, the body begins a metabolic effort in which it needs a greater amount of nutrients and also specific ones. It is more important than ever to maintain a healthy and balanced diet as it has fundamental consequences for both the mother and the infant.
In general terms, explains Niklas Gustafson, co-founder and president of Natruly, “during the first six months of breastfeeding, the mother’s body generates an average of 750 ml per day of breast milk. This means that it requires approximately 800 kcal more per day than in the pre-pregnancy period. After 6 months, the average becomes 600 ml / day, equivalent to an additional 640 kcal per day ».
During lactation it is advisable to avoid weight loss and restrictive diets in general, to ensure adequate nutrition for the baby. For this reason, Gustafson explains, “a hypocaloric intake would produce breast milk with deficits, which could compromise the proper development and growth of the baby.”
According to Gustafson, the amount, composition, smell and taste of breast milk are affected by the mother’s feeding. “Density and abundance is a common concern in mothers -especially in new ones- and one of the keys to being able to feed a baby well is that the mother is well fed, both in terms of quantity and quality and variety of the diet”.
It is vitally important to maintain a good intake of healthy fats. As the founder of Natruly recalls, there are many studies that have associated an intake rich in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, with the neural development of the baby during the first year of life, because it favors cognitive development, a better response to stimuli and a good degree of activity.
These are found, Gustafson recalls, “in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, anchovies or sardines; nuts of any kind, preferably natural or toasted without added salt; and extra virgin olive oil provide a good supply of these fatty acids. A few bars of nuts or some healthy peanut snacks can be a good complement to the usual diet.
In addition to fats, it is important to take into account the protein intake of the diet, he continues, because the amino acid content of breast milk depends on it. «Amino acids are involved in the development of the immune system and in the baby’s growth process. During breastfeeding, the mother should have an extra intake of about 25 grams of protein per day, which is not the same as saying 25 grams. more protein-rich foods. An extra 25 g of protein is equivalent to, for example, 2 eggs, or an extra chicken, turkey or white fish fillet throughout the day, etc. ».
Another way to obtain this extra contribution, he suggests, “may be to resort to Whey or vegan protein – always trying to be natural – or to recipes such as sauces, guacamole, purees or making protein-enriched fruit shakes” without forgetting a very important point such as it is also hydration, “since breast milk is mainly made up of water. The more you hydrate from pure and quality water, avoiding soft drinks or flavored waters in your diet, the better your baby’s diet will be ».
In addition to the health of the infant, the mother’s body itself also needs a good diet after delivery to speed up recovery and revitalize itself. With a newborn at home, schedules and priorities change. “We may snack more between meals, but that should not lead us to resort to unhealthy industrial snacks that fill us up momentarily, but do not provide us with the nutrients we need. As a healthy snack, we should prioritize fresh vegetables or fruit, for example, avocado is highly recommended due to its high fat and nutrient content. Nuts, rich in fiber and healthy fats, are also ideal and very satisfying.
What’s more, one of the specific elements that the mother must monitor in her own recovery is iron. «As happens during pregnancy, after childbirth the woman may suffer from iron deficiency anemia – a lack of this element. To avoid this, Gustafson recommends, foods such as organ meats (liver, kidneys), meats (red and white), fish (both blue, such as sardines, anchovies and fresh tuna, such as white, hake type), seafood from shell and egg yolk. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, chard, watercress or broccoli, and fruits, such as figs, plums, avocado and custard apples, are also high in iron.
Furthermore, pTo promote the absorption of ironHe continues, “it is advisable to accompany these foods with others, rich in vitamin C, such as red pepper or tomatoes and other fruits such as strawberries, oranges, tangerines, kiwi or lemon.” On the contrary, dairy products make it difficult to absorb this nutrient. «It is preferable to distance your consumption a little to better assimilate both. For example, have fruit as a dessert and milk or cheese as a snack, for a snack or for breakfast ”, he concludes.