After delivery, a healthy diet helps a mother maintain her own health, breastfeed her baby successfully, and ensure that it grows and develops well. The breastfeeding mother needs 500 kilo calories of energy above her pre-pregnancy needs. This translates to having two extra meals and two snacks in a day.
Take two extra meals each day in addition to the three regular meals and two snacks to support optimal nutrition and to meet lactation needs. ·
Each meal should be from four food groups. Eat a variety of foods from plants and animal source proteins, to build the body. Cereals, roots and tubers provide the body with energy. Eat whole meal cereals as they are healthy and contain more nutrients. ·
Eat adequate vitamin C rich foods like fruits and vegetables so that they help in the utilization of iron from other foods.
Take lots of nutritious fluids like milk, soup, juice, porridge, beverages and water to increase your breast milk supply.
Separate meals from beverages such as tea or coffee to prevent interference with iron absorption. Limit the intake of tea or coffee, otherwise take it an hour before or after a meal. Take small frequent meals.
Only take medicines and nutrient supplements as prescribed by a trained health care professional.
Engage in light physical activities to stay healthy. Take adequate rest.
WHY IS BREAST MILK AND BREASTFEEDING IMPORTANT?
Breast milk provides all the nutrients and water that a baby needs for growth and development from birth to the sixth month of life. Therefore, exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for 6 complete months.
Do not give any other food or drink except for medicines as recommended by a trained health care professional. Breastfeed babies on demand – any time when they want to during the day and night. Express breast milk that can be given to the baby, from a cup, when it is not possible to be with the baby.
Breast milk contains all the nutrients in the correct proportions and enough water for the infant’s needs.
Breast milk is easily digested and utilized by the new-born’s immature digestive system and has less chance of being contaminated.
Breast milk decreases the risk of allergy to the infant.
The first milk (colostrum) is like the first immunization and protects the baby from illnesses such as allergies, intolerance, diarrhea and respiratory infections. Colostrum also clears meconium (first dark stool) thus preventing yellowing of the baby’s skin; and it helps the baby’s intestines to mature.
Breast milk promotes adequate growth and development in the infant; breastfed babies have been shown to have a higher IQ than those who are not breastfed.
Suckling helps in the development of teeth, and facial and jaw bones.
Suckling is a calming activity for babies.
The baby stays warm, using its mother’s body heat to help regulate its own.
Breast milk is clean, cheap, safe and readily available at the right temperature whenever an infant needs it.
When a baby is breastfed, the risk of developing diabetes and obesity later in life is reduced.
Frequent skin-to-skin contact between the mother and infant enhances bonding, and promotes psycho motor, affective and social development of the infant.
Breastfeeding protects the mother’s health; reduces the risks of ovarian and breast cancer and helps release oxytocin in the mother which aids in uterine contraction.
Breastfeeding within one hour after birth helps the mother’s milk to come in faster.
Ensure that the baby empties one breast before switching from one breast to the other as this prevents the infant from getting the nutritious ‘hind milk’. The ‘fore milk’ has more water content and quenches infant’s thirst; the ‘hind milk’ has more fat content and satisfies the infant’s hunger.
GOOD BREASTFEEDING POSITIONING AND ATTACHMENT
Baby’s head and body should be in line,
Baby should approach the breast, nose to nipple.
Baby should be held close to the mother’s body.
Mother should support the baby’s whole body, not just the neck and shoulders with her hand and forearm.
4 signs of good attachment are:
Mouth wide open,
chin touching breast
More areola showing above than below the nipple, and
Lower lip turned out.