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Following Asian culture, much care is given to mummies during the first month after childbirth. Traditionally, everyone in the family would care for a mother after childbirth from preparing their meals, helping her out with house chores, helping to tend the baby at times so that mummies can have better quality rest and many more. This is such a precious tradition that has helped many mothers to recover well from childbirth while breastfeeding their little ones.
However, many tend to forget that despite wounds healed, uterus contracted, mummies are still breastfeeding their baby. Besides that, there may be other aspects or challenges of motherhood beyond the first month after childbirth. That’s why doctors call it the fourth trimester. Generally, mothers who continue to breastfeed are also at risk of being malnourished if there isn’t adequate nourishment. Some of the challenges mummies may still face beyond the first month is the risk of:
About 1 in every 12 postpartum women in Singapore experience postpartum depression as mentioned by Dr Theresa Lee, Senior Consultant for KKH. Some of the symptoms that indicate possible postpartum depression are:
- Poor sleep, appetite, energy levels
- Negative thoughts of baby
- Low mood
Postpartum depression is complex and multifactorial. That being said, emerging evidence is showing that a mummy’s diet plays a more significant role than we previously thought. It’s not just about providing variety in cuisines to mummies to keep it interesting for mummies to look forward to. Research is showing foods that are rich in essential fatty acids Omega 3-DHA to be one of the key nutrients associated with a lower risk of postpartum depression. This means having adequate foods like fish and seafood at least 2 times per week is not merely a suggestion or general guideline, it is an active step to lower your risk of postpartum depression.
Weak Pelvic Floor
Many mothers experience a weaker pelvic floor after childbirth. It is not normal, but it is a common issue among mothers where they may experience faecal and urine incontinence ranging from mild to severe. Many therapists recommend mothers to exercise their pelvic floor muscles regularly even during pregnancy in order to reduce the risk of severe incontinence, and even if so recover better. One thing to note that many may overlook is eating well during this time. Eating a well-balanced meal with sufficient fibre from fruits and vegetables as well as higher good quality protein intake to promote muscle tissue repair in this area as well. That is why it is so important for mummies to not rush into a weight loss programme which advocates high-intensity exercises and calorie deficit meal plans. Such programmes may look like they are effective in weight loss but in truth may lead to drastic muscle loss instead of fat which can do more harm than good.
Affected Breast Milk Quality and Quantity
Very rarely breast milk supply is affected after the first month of postpartum as many mummies would have been able to establish a pretty stable supply of breast milk for her baby. However, it is not impossible. Research shows that mothers in an environment where food availability is scarce and conditions are extreme, may experience some reduction in breast milk. Thus, mothers should avoid diving into an intense weight loss programme too soon. Besides that, did you know there are some nutrients in breast milk where its concentration levels are dependent on maternal intake? Thus, it’s important for mummies to take foods that are rich in:
Vitamin A-rich foods are such as carrots, pumpkins, goji berries and animal liver. It is important for mummies to have sufficient intake as Vitamin A plays a role in developing the vision of the baby. It is also part of developing blood vessels and healthy skin.
Based on the recent GUSTO study in Singapore found that 40% of Singaporean women during their 2nd trimester have suboptimal Vitamin D levels despite living in a tropical country where the sun is available all day round. This is concerning especially since mummies in Singapore traditionally stay at home for the 1 st month of confinement. How many mothers leave the house as often as they did during pregnancy even after doing confinement during the first month of postpartum? Only when there’s sufficient maternal intake of Vitamin D, will there be adequate levels of Vitamin D in the breast milk for their infant.
Vitamin B12 can only be found in animal protein. Thus, maintaining adequate animal protein intake is important as Vitamin B12 helps your baby to produce healthy red blood cells and nerve cells. This would also help to prevent megaloblastic anaemia.
Choline is one of the nutrient intake most overlooked. Australian and American nutritional recommendations for pregnant women as well as during lactation have included Choline daily recommendations. It has been acknowledged to be important especially in its role in brain and cognitive development. These recommendations can be achieved easily by having at least 2 whole eggs a day which gives you about 40% of your requirements! This makes it easy to achieve with other protein foods you eat throughout the day.
Iodine and Omega 3-DHA
Both Iodine and Omega 3-DHA can be found in fish, seafood and marine sources like seaweed. These nutrients play a huge role in the brain and cognitive development of infants. Researchers found that omega 3-DHA levels in breastmilk of mummies who ate fish less than a week were lower compared to breast milk of mummies who ate fish at least 2 to 3 times per week.
Besides that, other than being involved in brain development, Iodine is also involved in thyroid hormone regulation. In some countries, researchers found that children who were deficient in iodine had lower IQ and poorer learning abilities. In some, there was even impaired growth.
All in all, there are many factors at play in terms of diet while breastfeeding beyond the confinement month. Many forget that it’s only the 2nd month after childbirth and mummies still need help at home. Eating well and attending to your baby can easily be overwhelming especially when it comes to cooking. So it’s important to plan your meals beyond confinement and prepare foods to boost milk supply so that you can take care of yourself and your baby. A healthy mummy is a fitter mummy to manage stress and be there for her baby.
At ReLacto, there is a whole spread of different foods to eat throughout four weeks which incorporates foods to boost milk supply. They are lactation food Singapore mommies find effective in improving their milk supply. Many of these not only provide foods that are rich in the nutrients of breast milk influenced by mummy’s dietary intake, it also contains foods that may potentially provide food support to mothers in providing a good milk supply to her baby. Thus, ReLacto will be able to provide a lactation meal plan that may suit your needs and preferences.