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Lactation nutrition

Nourishing breastfeeding moms

w1

 “Breastfeeding is a wonderful and interesting experience for me. I struggled for the first three weeks but things went uphill from there as I got the hang of it and generally enjoyed feeding my son. I was more concerned about my calcium intake and whether I am getting enough nutrients to pass on to my baby. I don’t eat much because all my life, I ate like a bird,” recalls Melissa Que.w2

A breastfeeding mom may find herself at a loss amid the overwhelming amount of information and advice on what to eat and avoid during her lactation period, not to mention the challenges she may encounter in terms of juggling work, feeding the baby, and taking care of the family as well as herself and the pressure of producing enough milk.

Moms, however, were uniquely created. They are our unsung heroes. There’s just nothing moms can’t do! To make life a bit easier for moms and provide a little bit of relief from all those unsolicited tips that more often than not have no scientific basis at all, here’s a simple guide to ensuring maternal nutrition while breastfeeding sans quackery.

Extra energyw3

Breastfeeding moms need an extra 500 kcal per day added to her total caloric requirements. This will compensate for the additional energy needed for lactation while maintaining her normal body composition. To meet the extra 500 kcal, here’s an example of how much moms can add to her diet: one cup of nonfat milk, one slice of bread, one cup of rice, one small banana, and one egg.

Fill up on fluids

An additional one liter or four cups of water must be added to the usual two liter or eight cups usual minimum intake per day to ensure proper hydration and volume of milk production. That will be a total of three liters or 12 cups of fluid, mainly from water and other sources like soups, milk, and 100 percent fruit juice. Best to avoid sugary and caffeinated beverages. Alcohol is definitely a no-no.

Provide proteinw

Additional protein sources from lean meat, fish, chicken, shellfish like clams, egg, beans, nuts, peanut butter, and low-fat dairy are needed to be converted to milk protein. Protein helps in promoting the growth and development of the baby.

Vary veggies

It is important to eat a variety of vegetables that will provide high sources of vitamin A (eye health), calcium (bone health), iron (prevents anemia), and vitamin C (immune health and iron absorption). Your best options are the green leafy, yellow, red, and orange colored vegetables, which are abundant in Philippine soil. Eat malunggay, tomatoes, squash, kamote, or sweet potato, pechay, ampalaya, red, green, and yellow bell peppers, carrots, and the like. Vegetables can be prepared in many ways: sauteed, boiled, steamed, grilled, baked, or added to soups and other viands.

Here’s an example of a Filipino breastfeeding mom’s menu

Breakfast

Banana

Boiled egg

Paksiw na galunggong

Milk

Morning Snack

Boiled sweet potato

Kesong puti

Lunch

Clam soup

Guisadong monggo with malunggay

Grilled pork chop

Rice

Watermelon

Afternoon snack

Peanut butter sandwich

Fresh buko juice

Dinner

Tinolang manok

Pinakbet Rice

It is recommended for breastfeeding moms to seek the advice of a registered nutritionist-dietitian for proper guidance on the quantity of food they must consume daily.  Visit your health centers and local hospital.