Nutrition for breastfeeding mums

Put in a good sizable deposit in the bank and wait for it to reap in profits. Are we talking finance? No. We are referring to how much nutrition does a mother need in order to keep herself and the little one healthy.

Many mums and mothers-to-be realise the importance of a nutritious diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding period.  However, they are often unaware that a good diet prior to conceiving is also needed to ensure the wellbeing of both mother and child. Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Dr Peter Chew revealed this eye-opening fact.

Dr Chew gave an insight into maternal nutrition and what is needed to maintain the good health of both mum and baby. He emphasised the importance of a good pregnancy diet as it ‘can contribute to long-term health consequences.’ This healthy diet should follow through even till after the birth of your baby and during your lactating period.

He continued to say that it is especially important for those who are expecting or breastfeeding as it will affect the unborn child.  A good nutritious diet should begin at least three months prior to conception.  This means that as you plan your pregnancy, your eating habits should already consist wholesome food.

Nutrition for breastfeeding mothers

Nutrition and diet of breastfeeding mothers

Subsequently, this healthy diet should follow through even till after the birth of your baby and during your lactating period.  Practicing dietician, Mr For Wei Chek, echoed his sentiments.  Mr For also touched on the reasons why a pregnant mum require a nutrient-filled diet – for her health, the development of the baby and preparations for the delivery as well as for breastfeeding.

We’ve compiled a list of tips from the two experts:

Requirements

A pregnant and lactating mummy needs more nutrients than usual – in terms of energy needs, about 200-285kcal more during pregnancy and nearly 500kcal more than usual during lactation! A non-pregnant woman only require about 2100kcal to give her energy throughout the day.

With such increase in energy need as well as nutrient. Also, there is no truth in “eating for two”!  Doubling the amount of food and calories intake when mothers are expecting may promote excessive weight gain or over-indulgence in certain food types and lacks certain key nutrients.

Balance

A balanced diet containing vitamins, folic acid and calcium to maintain good health and support babies’ healthy growth.  Several other key nutrients that you should include in your diet are protein, iron and zinc.  These can be found in a variety of food.  For instance, protein can be found in mainly meats but be sure to pick a healthier choice such as white meats.

If you are a vegetarian mum, obtain the protein you need from nuts and soya beans. Meanwhile, folic acid which helps prevent spina bifida and support the placenta, can be acquired from good old leafy vegetables such as spinach.  Always remember to get your nutrients from natural food sources first.  If food choices are limited or not easily available, only then should you consider pregnancy nutrition supplements that offer the same dietary value.  Seek your doctor’s advice if you wish to add on other supplements to your diet.

Variety

A variety of foods from every food groups is needed.  Increase your fibre and vitamins intake from fruits, vegetables and whole grain products; and calcium intake from low fat dairy products or high calcium foods.  We all know how much cravings you might have during pregnancy,  however, you still have to be wary of what you eat.  Mr For emphasized that while it is alright to indulge in a little sweet treat or two sometime, you have to ensure that unhealthy food is eaten in moderation.

When shopping:

Always look for the healthier choice logo.  Introduced by Singapore Health Promotion Board, the logo shows that the product has gone through rigorous tests to prove that it is a better and more wholesome option to its similar counterparts.  Several alternatives to usual favourites, pick:

– Wholegrain bread and cereal instead of white bread and sugar-frosted cereals

– Ease yourself into the habit of eating brown rice instead of white.  Brown rice consist more nutrients but for those of us who are not used to eating brown rice, try to mix brown with white rice at the start of your transition.

– Low fat, low calorie and high calcium yogurt instead of ice cream for tea

Also avoid and look out for:

– avoid processed food as much as possible and if you want to use tuna or sardines in a can, remove the fish from the brine which contains massive amounts of salt

– always look out for products which are low in fat, high in calcium and low in calorie.  Food items which claim to have no sugar, does not mean it is calorie free, so make sure you always check the label and compare similar items before making your choice.