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Many new mothers who have just started nursing may find that breastfeeding is not an easy job. Latching issues, sore nipples, and mastitis (inflammation of the breast tissue due to infection, resulting in pain and swelling) are a few of the worries that plague new mothers. To add to this list is the list of what to eat and what to avoid while breastfeeding. Many new mothers are suggested by almost anyone and everyone about what to eat and avoid during breastfeeding, which may leave them confused and stressed. One such particular food that women are not sure of consuming in their breastfeeding stage is flaxseed.
Flaxseeds are reddish or golden yellow in colour. They have been used to alleviate the symptoms of constipation for centuries. Over the past decade, flaxseeds have become an important health food with a niche market of its own. The health benefits associated with the crop have made it a popular addition to diets in the form of supplements or as a key ingredient in many food recipes.
Does Flaxseed Aid in Breast Milk Supply?
Flaxseed is known to be an excellent laxative due to the presence of non-absorbable fibres in them. They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, ALA (Alpha-Lipoic Acid), and DHAs (Docosahexaenoic Acid). While there is little data on the benefits of flaxseed for breastfeeding mothers, consuming them in healthy amounts is considered safe for breastfeeding women.
It is essential to understand that the concept of eating flaxseed to boost breast milk production is still ambiguous. While it is known that the omega-3 fatty acids are very crucial for augmenting breast milk supply, there is no direct and clear link between the consumption of flaxseed or it’s oil and increased breast milk supply. Flaxseed, on the other hand, is known to contain phytoestrogens which when consumed in large quantities can disrupt normal hormonal function. This could reduce the quality or quantity of breast milk and hinder adrenal function.
Since the take on the effects of consuming flaxseed on milk supply is ambiguous, it is better for you to consult a lactation expert and your medical expert before you start taking any type of supplements.
What Are the Effects of Consuming Flaxseed While Nursing?
If you are wondering if you can eat flaxseed while breastfeeding, we have listed below some effects of flaxseed on mother and infant:
On the Mother
Flaxseed and oil can have the following effects on a lactating mother:
- It can increase the ALA (Alpha-linolenic acid), which partially converts to omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty acids are essential to breast milk production.
- Women with low fatty acids, whose milk supply is impacted, may see an increase in supply with regulated used of flaxseed oil.
- Flaxseed oil while breastfeeding does not counter the low intake of docosahexaenoic acid in mothers. This DHA cannot be synthesised by our bodies but is crucial for foetal brain and immunity development.
- Flaxseed oil can cause blood thinning, and this might lead to excessive bleeding after injuries. It might decrease the risk of bleeding or lower blood pressure.
- Flaxseed oil is also not advised for diabetic women as it can spike blood sugar levels. As they have high fibre content, they are considered a low glycaemic food, which means consuming them wont spike blood sugar levels and, instead, cause them to rise steadily, promoting blood sugar control.
On the Baby
- Flaxseed and flaxseed oil are high in omega-3 fatty acids that are effective anti-inflammatory fats that the body needs to maintain good brain and heart health.
- They are also packed with lignans which scavenge free radicals and protect the baby’s body from damage.
- Flaxseed is a good source of thiamine, Vitamin B6, folate, niacin, Vitamin B5, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, and selenium, which are essential micronutrients to develop bone, muscle, and heart health in a growing infant.
Flaxseed have a woody or nutty taste and can be included in moderation to your diet in the form of oil, ground flaxseed powder, flaxseed crackers, or even in oatmeal and muesli. You can also add them while cooking dal or add them in curd, etc . Flaxseeds can also be added to bread while baking. However, remember, there is no consensus that flaxseed helps increase breast milk supply. So, please consult your doctor and get expert advice before you decide to try flaxseed or their supplements while lactating.