SINGAPORE: As your baby will rely on your breast milk for all his nutritional needs until he is about six months old, what you eat will affect the quality of your breast milk. Getting the right nutrition will also help you cope with the physical demands of caring for your newborn.
It goes without saying that your top priority is to stay healthy if you’re breastfeeding. Dr Christopher Chong, Ob-Gyn at Gleneagles Hospital has some advice: Get enough rest, keep yourself hydrated and eat a balanced diet. The good news is, you will feel hungrier than usual as your body will be burning about 300 to 500 more calories a day.
Here are some tips from Dr Chong on what food to avoid and what to eat when you are breastfeeding.
FOOD TO AVOID
Tea and coffee Found in both tea and coffee, caffeine is a diuretic and will make you dehydrated, which affects the quality and quantity of milk you produce.
Alcohol Besides being able to make its way into your breast milk, alcohol can also inhibit the let-down reflex and this may cause your milk supply to drop. If you do drink, make sure to wait about two hours for the alcohol to be cleared from your body before you nurse your infant again.
Shellfish Although fish and seafood are great sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, most of them may also contain mercury and other contaminants. These pose a risk to your baby’s developing nervous system. To minimise such issues, consume less seafood like swordfish, king mackerel and crustaceans.
Peppermint or menthol When consumed in large or concentrated amounts, this herb can decrease your production of milk.
Parsley Consuming this herb can lead to dehydration because it is diuretic.
Oregano It is known to affect breast milk supply, so you may notice a drop in the quantity of milk you produce.
FOOD TO EAT
Carrots High in vitamin A, carrots not only help prevent night-blindness, it’s known to increase milk supply, too.
Oatmeal Whole grains and cereal like oatmeal are good sources of fibre, which not only keep you fuller for longer periods, they also help you increase breast milk supply.
Salmon This fish is high in “healthy” fats like omega-3 fatty acids.
Spinach This vegetable is a rich source of calcium, iron and folic acid. A deficiency in the latter can give rise to anaemia, which slows down cellular growth and DNA replication. Calcium and iron also contribute to your infant’s bone health.
Fenugreek This herb stimulates the milk ducts and is said to be effective in helping to increase your milk supply. It also reduces inflammation in your body and reduces your risk of developing mouth ulcers.
Dairy products and eggs High in calcium and a vital source of protein which are crucial in boosting your child’s bone, teeth and muscle development.
A version of this story first appeared in SmartParents