Breast milk is highly nutritious for babies, with an optimal balance of fat, sugar, water and protein. All these nutrients are essential for a baby’s physical and mental development. Breastfeeding also reduces a baby’s risk of developing asthma or allergies, respiratory illnesses and frequent ear infections. It even helps develop a physical and emotional bond between the mother and baby. Nursing mothers benefit, too. Many experience less blood loss following delivery, better uterus shrinkage, weight loss and less postpartum depression. It also reduces the risk of breast cancer, cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
Breastfeeding is one of the best gifts that a new mother can give to her new-born baby. Here are some foods that help boost breast milk supply.
Oatmeal can help nursing mothers increase the quantity as well as quality of their breast milk. It stimulates the production of oxytocin, a hormone that helps with the birthing process, bonding with the baby and milk production. It also helps prevent iron-deficiency anaemia, which is common in new moms. A warm bowl of oatmeal serves as a comfort food for many women who suffer from stress and depression after childbirth. This natural whole-grain, high-fibre food is easy to prepare and easily digested. Quick oats and steel-cut oats are healthy choices, but avoid pre-packaged instant oatmeal, which usually contains extra salt and sugar. Top your cooked oatmeal with a spoonful of raw honey, cardamom, chopped nuts, berries or saffron to enhance the taste, as well as nutritional profile. You can even enjoy oatmeal with biscuits or cookies.
Almonds and other nuts, such as walnuts and cashews, are super healthy for nursing mothers. Almonds are packed with protein, fibres, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are important for the overall health of the mother as well as her newborn baby. They are also a good non-dairy source of calcium. In addition, the monounsaturated fats in almonds increase the richness of breast milk. They even make a healthy snack to help you stay satisfied between meals. Enjoy 5 or 6 soaked almonds daily, but avoid roasted and salted varieties.
Extra-virgin coconut oil is considered healthy for both pregnant and nursing mothers. It contains essential fatty acids such as omega-3 fatty acids that aid the production of hormones responsible for breast milk production. In fact, these essential fatty acids help in producing fattier and more nutritious breast milk. Plus, coconut oil has immune-boosting properties and can provide the new mother the much needed energy required to take care of the baby. Breastfeeding mothers should aim to eat 1 to 3 tablespoons of coconut oil a day. You can also use it to make salad dressings and dips.
The high vitamin C content of oranges is important for breast milk supply. A 2002 study published in the Food and Nutrition Bulletin notes that the vitamin C content of breast milk is significantly correlated with the mother’s intake of vitamin C. Oranges are also packed with other nutrients, such as vitamins A and B, calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. It is great for strengthening the immune system and recovering from weight gain due to pregnancy. While nursing, drink about 2 glasses of orange juice daily. For better output, try calcium-fortified orange juice. Along with orange juice, opt for water, soup and skimmed milk to keep your body hydrated.
Fenugreek, both the seeds and leaves, works as an excellent Galactagogue to stimulate breast milk secretion. The choline in it ensures proper development of newborn babies. Plus, this herb contains a generous amount of iron, fibres, calcium, and various vitamins and minerals. It even helps alleviate common post-delivery problems, such as flatulence and body aches. Drink a cup of fenugreek tea daily. To make the tea, soak 1 tablespoon of the seeds in a cup of water overnight and boil the solution in the morning. You can also add a little fenugreek seed powder to your soups or smoothies, as well as add fresh and tender fenugreek leaves to your soups, stews or salads.
This tasty and versatile food is great for nursing mothers. Eggs are rich in protein, lutein, vitamins B12 and D, riboflavin, folate and choline. Egg yolks are one of the few foods rich in vitamin D, which is important for newborn babies. The good quality protein in eggs has a perfect balance of all the essential eight amino acids. Include a couple of eggs in your diet daily. You can prepare them in a variety of ways, including scrambled, hard boiled or in an omelette or egg salad.
BY: Umaru Maryam Hadejia