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Being a mother for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. Your life takes a turn and you don’t know what to do. Your immediate family, close friends, spouse, doctors, and even strangers will be there to advise you. One common problem that concerns most new moms is breastfeeding and milk production. Breastmilk plays an important role in a baby’s personal food choices as he grows older. A baby’s first introduction to a range of flavours is through his mother’s breast milk, which in turn is affected by a mother’s diet.
Breast milk is influenced by a whole lot of factors, some genetic while others environmental. Some of its components are present consistently, while others depend on the mother’s diet. For instance, research has shown that the amount of fat in breastmilk is not altered by the consumption of cow’s milk, but there is an effect on the type of fat. In either case, the energy or calories in your breastmilk do not get altered drastically. In fact, it helps nurse your child on cue, or in other words, when your little one demands to be fed. This way he will obtain all the nutrients required for his proper growth and development. Therefore, most mothers drink milk while they are breastfeeding. But if you are wondering if you should drink milk while breastfeeding or not, then read on to understand the importance of drinking milk during breastfeeding and its impact on the degree of milk production.
How Much Milk Should be Consumed by a Breastfeeding Mother?
Lactating moms need anywhere between 2.25 to 3.1 litres of fluids every day, which sums up to somewhere between 9 to 13 cups. This may vary depending on your metabolism, activity level, etc. This fluid can be consumed in any form like water, milk, juice, or other healthy drinks. Avoid drinks like sodas, coffee, tea and alcohol, as they can cause complications.
When it comes to the amount of milk, a good rule of thumb is to drink enough to sate your thirst. New mothers tend to feel a lot thirstier when they are nursing, especially if the baby is newborn. If your urine is light coloured, this means you are drinking just enough milk. Many people believe that herbal teas, infusions, and other natural products help stimulate milk synthesis. However, the only way to increase milk production is by allowing the baby to empty the breast completely while nursing, which then makes the milk ducts to generate more milk. Further, these herbal concoctions can be dangerous to both you and your little one, so their use should be in moderation and with awareness.
Alternative Foods to Include in Diet for Increasing Calcium Amount
Calcium is a crucial nutrient required by literally every single organism on earth. In a human body, calcium is important in the synthesis and maintenance of teeth and bones. Further, it is used in its ionic form as a means of signal transduction both within cells as well as between different cells. Calcium is also relevant as a chemical messenger which drives the actions of muscle contraction and relaxation. Other functions include transport of nerve signals, blood clotting, promoting fertilisation of the egg cell by the sperm, and so on.
But cow’s milk for breastfeeding mothers is not the only option to get the required calcium. Here are a few calcium-rich foods you can consume to increase the amount of calcium present in your breastmilk:
- Leafy, green vegetables like beet greens, kale, and collard greens.
- Sesame seeds, which can be consumed in the form of sesame butter, sesame paste or eaten whole. These seeds should be properly chewed to allow the digestive system to absorb the calcium present in them efficiently.
- Tofu, which is prepared from soybeans with the help of coagulants like calcium sulphate and calcium chloride.
- Drinking goat’s or sheep’s milk while breastfeeding is a great choice.
- Fish, especially canned mackerel, sardines, pilchards and salmon. These have bones which have been softened during processing, making them easier to eat. A paste made from anchovies is also rich in calcium and can be consumed along with your meals.
- Whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, oats, etc.
- Chicken broth, wherein the meat is stewed for long periods of time, resulting in softened bones.
- Nuts like walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, dried figs and so on. Avoid overeating these due to the high amount of calories present.
- Certain types of sea-plants, such as algae, for instance, wakame, are rich in calcium.
- Fermented items like miso and soy sauce can be included in your diet.
- Dairy products like cheese, paneer, butter, and whole curds also contain small amounts of calcium.
- Legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, beans, among others.
- Molasses, a natural sweetener obtained from partially refining cane sugar or beet sugar.
- Eggs and white meat, preferably boiled or stewed.
- Citrus fruits like grapes, oranges, lemons, sweet limes, grapefruits, and so on.
- Amaranth, a highly nutritious pseudocereal, provides manganese, magnesium, and iron in addition to calcium.
There is no evidence that consuming milk or dairy products improves breastmilk production. However, drinking milk provides a whole plethora of benefits for breastfeeding mothers, and should be included in the diet, provided neither you nor your baby is allergic.
Also Read: Foods to Increase Breast Milk