It is nothing strange to have the elderly tell you what foods to eat after giving birth to increase breast milk. But is there actually any science behind it? After all, the foods recommended are usually information passed down from one generation to the next.
While we can’t say for sure that certain foods are a must or a no-go, we can look at the nutrition side of things. Rather than following blindly which foods a new mother should eat, we should learn about the nutrients they contain and how they help with a baby’s development through breast milk.
Did you know that there are certain nutrients in breast milk that are affected by the mother’s food intake? And that these nutrients play a huge role in a baby’s growth? Well, now you do. So, here’s what you need to know about 6 key nutrients in breast milk that are influenced by the foods a nursing mother eats, and also from which ingredients to get them.
Vitamin A is a group of fat-soluble compounds that have 2 forms; one in animal products and the other in plant products. It is stored in the liver before it is broken down to enter the bloodstream. What it is good for is the skin, reproduction, and vision. And a growing baby needs all these to have a healthy immune system, especially once he starts to wean as he would need a good amount stored away to prevent a deficiency.
You can get vitamin A from a variety of plant products, especially those in the red category like pumpkin, carrots, and wolfberries, which can be found on our menu in our soups and vegetable dishes.
We all know the sun is the best source of vitamin D, but how is it that breastfeeding women tend to have a higher risk of having a vitamin D deficiency than a woman who is not nursing? That’s because she is passing on this nutrient to her breastfeeding baby while not getting enough sunlight during confinement. With the baby’s development requiring it in order to build a good immune system, it is all the more important for a mother to ensure she has sufficient intake. And she can do this by eating more fatty fish, such as our salmon dishes here at ReLacto. If required and advised by doctors, in some cases, vitamin D supplements are recommended in mothers with higher risk of low vitamin D levels too.
The reason why formula milk for babies contains choline in them is how crucial this nutrient is in supporting brain development, activity, and even memory. Choline is a nutrient that our bodies are unable to synthesise enough to meet our needs, and seeing as how our babies need it, we can consume foods that contain it. For instance, eggs and roasted soybeans are excellent sources of choline. You can find how we’ve incorporated some of the eggs in our vegetable dishes in the Relacto menu too!
An essential nutrient, omega 3-DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), exists in our cells. It is especially important for nursing mothers to do so as this nutrient plays a huge role in a baby’s vision, brain, and nervous system. In fact, there are studies that have shown breastfed infants to have better visual acuity. Unfortunately, our body cannot produce it and we can only obtain it by consuming foods like prawns and fish such as salmon and snakehead.
Absolutely essential in the regulation of the thyroid hormone and prevention of goitre or the swelling of the thyroid gland, iodine is also needed for a baby’s brain development as people with hypothyroidism, or low levels of thyroid hormone, have been found to have a smaller hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that affects memory.
Yet another nutrient that the body does not make, iodine can be found in seafood like prawns and fish, however, a typical breastfeeding mother’s diet may not meet the recommended iodine requirements, so incorporating certain dishes would help.
A deficiency in vitamin B12 would affect foetal growth and brain development, and also the production of red blood cells. However, it is only found in animal protein like fish, chicken, eggs, pork and beef. So for breastfeeding mothers who do not consume such foods like vegetarians, their babies have a higher risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. To combat this, supplements would be your answer. However, it is always best to consult with your doctor for the appropriate measure.
Considering all aspects of food for your little one can be quite a draining process, particularly when you want the best meals for lactation. But don’t think that all these foods and nutrients are only for the baby. These ingredients actually make for healthy lactation meals that benefit mummies too. Which is why we include all of them in our dishes here at ReLacto. So, if you ever wonder, ‘where to get the best meals for lactation?’ or ‘the best lactation food near me’, ReLacto should be your go-to answer.