Nutrition for Breastfeeding Mothers


DOES what you eat and drink matter when you are lactating or breastfeeding your baby? Yes, definitely!
Breastfeeding or lactation is nutritionally demanding. It is very important that lactating mothers maintain a healthy balanced diet to assure that she produces
and provides to her baby abundant, high quality milk.
A healthy balanced diet for breastfeeding mothers should include a variety of healthy nutritious foods. The guide below can help you make the best choice when
planning what to eat during lactating.

Taking in lots of extra calories is unnecessary - eat according to hunger

Although energy requirements for lactating women are slightly higher than other women, that is, an extra 200-500 kcal above their pre-pregnancy food intake, it doesn’t mean you need to consume a lot of food! Furthermore, an individual mother’s calorie intake can vary widely depending on a number of individual factors such as weight, physical activity, metabolism of the body and how much or how frequent the mother is breastfeeding the baby. It is best guided by your appetite and to eat when you are hungry!


Take more fluids!
Usually, lactating mothers will experience an increase in thirst; therefore being thirsty is a good sign for fluid intake during breast-feeding. Aim for 2.5 litres of fluid each day to compensate the loss of water in milk production. Go for fluids such as water, milk, 100% juice or soup. If your urine is light-coloured, it’s a good sign that you’re well hydrated! Another tip – keep water, milk or 100% juice handy to sip during breastfeeding your baby.


Limit your caffeine intake!
Caffeine may pass into breast milk and may affect baby’s sleep and feeding, so try to limit caffeinated drinks to 2-3 cups per day, which includes coffee, tea and soft drinks.


No need for food restrictions…really!
Diets around the world vary hugely. In one culture, women may avoid a particular food while breastfeeding, while in another culture breastfeeding mothers may eat that same food every day. Most of the rules about what to eat and what not to eat when breastfeeding phase are usually based on cultural traditions or beliefs that are just so ingrained and are not based on scientific facts. These make breastfeeding mothers confused, and it becomes harder for them to provide abundant, high quality milk!
Each baby reacts differently to the food that the mother eats. If you think a particular food has affected your baby to become fussy or disturbed, you could try cutting
it out for a few days to see if it makes a difference. It may be nothing to do with your diet. Your baby may be fussy because she has not latched on properly, or because she is gulping her milk too eagerly! If anyone in the family has history of allergies, you may be worried to eat certain foods that might cause reactions such as peanuts. Generally, there is no need to restrict any specific food from the mother’s diet. No current convincing evidence shows that avoiding known food allergens during breastfeeding phase may cause your baby to become allergic to it later on.


Go for the good fats!
Good fats come from foods such as oily fish (like salmon, tuna and mackerel, local fish such as ikan selungsong, ikan tenggiri, ikan bilis), avocado, olives, nuts and seeds. They contain high omega-3 (DHA) which is vital for the baby’s brain and visual development. Eat 1-2 portions of oily or sea fish per week to ensure DHA concentration in breast milk. Limit saturated fats and trans fats, as both are considered bad fats. They are usually found mainly in high-fat cut of meats, chicken’s skin, butter, whole-fat dairy products, palm and coconut oil, commercially-baked pastries, cookies, packaged-snack foods, fried foods and fast-foods. Not only do these bad fats can cause an increase in blood cholesterol, but they also can alter the fat composition of breast milk, that is, decrease the production of DHA in breast milk.

Avoid alcohol
For non-Muslim breastfeeding mothers, it is ideal and practical decision to avoid alcohol consumption during pregnancy period. Hence, there is no difference during breastfeeding phase as well! By taking alcohol during lactation period, it may pass readily into breast milk. This will cause the baby to become drowsy and fall asleep quickly, causing the baby to obtain less milk. It is also known that alcohol consumption may affect the development of the baby.

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