Healthy food for the lactating new mother

Bowl of cherries, eggs and chicken

Insufficient breastmilk has been a concern for many yet-to-be mothers. Most often, it is the need to initiate the baby to formula feeds or any such supplements that leaves them worried and confused.

Interestingly, 90% of the mothers, in the present era, ensure that their babies are solely breastfed until he or she turns seven-months-old. Although this is wonderful news, the experience is not exactly memorable.

Did you know?

A breastfeeding mother is expected to rest well and abstain from stress, anger, grief or even exercises. However, this isn’t always feasible in today's hectic world, where there are many nuclear families and multi-tasking is a pre-requisite. There is always a reduction in the flow of milk or even doubts regarding baby's food requirements. Thereby, leaving the mother restless. Now, this is what I have to say:

How do you know if you are producing sufficient breastmilk?

Here are few simple yet effective ways to know:

Check for the baby's weight. If she can sleep for at least 45 minutes, urinates 10-15 times a day and passes stools for three to four times a day, you can be assured that your baby is consuming sufficient breastmilk. A reduction in the breast size also occurs. Most mothers get flummoxed when the baby wakes up 45 minutes after feeding and throws up all that has been consumed. This is followed by the baby crying for hours or being restless. The elder members of the family claim that all the fuss was due to insufficient feeds. This compels the mother to consider formula feeds or other supplements.

Does your baby throw-up after a feed?

Honestly, there isn’t any need for anyone to panic. This occurs because the child is likely to have swallowed some air while feeding. Breastfeeding is mostly a comforting activity for the child. She is likely to throw up in the case of ‘overfeeding’. Whenever you face a similar situation, try the following:

1. Try to lay the baby on her tummy while putting her to sleep. You will see that she is likely to sleep longer due to this abdominal pressure.

2. Make sure that somebody watches out for your baby as she enjoys her siesta. You should also ensure that the baby passes semi-solid stools at least 3 times a day.

Tips to enhance the production of breastmilk

1. Moderate your diet. Do not follow a strenuous diet routine during the months when your baby is being exclusively breastfed. The fats and carbohydrates of your body are sufficient to satisfy your baby’s nutritional requirement and ensure that she is not hungry. A deficiency in these will affect the quality of the breast milk and reduce its consistency.

Your kitchen can prove to be awesome. Treat yourself to leafy vegetables as they are galactagogues. Barley, wheat, rice (especially rice that has been cooked the previous day) are delicious too. The other items on the menu could be:

a. Meat - except buffalo, fish could also be part of your diet

b. Porridge made from crushed sesame, garlic, green gram and coconut

c. Red rice with jaggery, pink rock salt, ghee cooked in milk also helps

d. Milk boiled with long pepper, pepper, and dry ginger or even with a special type of asparagus (Shatavari)'

f. Porridge made from sugarcane

g. Juice of alligator yam or giant potato or its juice mixed with milk is a great galactagogue and will help increase the production of milk in a completely exhausted breast

h. Supreme porridge - prepared from long pepper and its roots, Balinese long pepper, common cumin and black cumin, turmeric, and tree turmeric, and black salt cooked with rice - is not only a galactagogue but also it helps cure arthritic issues and improves your appetite.

2. Follow a routine. Try to engage yourself in activities that help you de-stress. You could also take short walks. Sleep is essential for breast milk production. Drink ample amount of water and keep your system hydrated.

These simple but effective methods will assure you of a glorious entry to the world of the motherhood.

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The author, Dr. Dhanya Dilip, is an Ayurveda doctor based in Bengaluru, India. She graduated from the Government Ayurveda Medical College, Kochi, Kerala, India.

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