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Mother's Nutritional Needs

Water Intake
Nursing mother produces about 25 ounce of milk daily. Mother needs to replace this fluid and then some. If the mother's normal intake is 8 cups (8oz) per day, it should be increased to 12 cups a day. Feeling thirsty or constipation are signs that mother needs added water. Mother should always follow nursing with a drink of water. Do not over do it. Excessive water intake can retard milk production.


Caloric Intake
Nursing mother spends about 500 kcal to produce milk. Caloric intake should be increased by 500kcal. If the mother plans to nurse baby for more than 3 months, the caloric intake should be increased by 800kcal. Of course as the needs to produce milk is reduced, the caloric intake requirements are reduced. A nursing mother loses 240mg of Calcium per day, that should be made up.

A nursing mother should intake 1 gram for each pound of her body weight per day. Paneer or cottage cheese is a better choice.

Nutrition for the nursing mother
While breastfeeding, it is important to eat a well-balanced diet like you did during your pregnancy.

A well-balanced diet

Dietary Needs

After delivery, most women have an increased appetite and thirst. It is important to eat nourishing foods and drink enough liquids to support your health and your body’s production of breast milk. A well-balanced diet contains:

1. Fruits

2. Vegetables

3. Milk and other dairy products

4.  Cereals , Paneer

5. Protein foods (such as meats, poultry, eggs, beans and peanut butter)

6. Nuts and seeds.

7. Oats

8. Jaggery

9. Herbs and Spices

Most women need about 500 extra calories per day to establish and maintain an adequate milk supply. Caloric needs may vary depending on your activity level, weight gain and desired weight. Weight loss should be slow and gradual.

Most women need about 8 to 10 glasses of fluids per day while breastfeeding. Juice, water, soup or milk can provide the liquid you need. You should drink enough fluids to satisfy your thirst and produce pale, odorless urine or ease constipation.If you have concentrated urine, strong-smelling urine and constipation, you may not be drinking enough fluids.

Almost everything a breastfeeding mother eats or drinks will come through in her breastmilk. Foods that are good for you will be good for your baby too. It is rare to have to eliminate foods from your diet. Although some babies may become fussy or cry when a mother eats certain foods, there may be other reasons for your baby’s fussiness.

Substances you may want to eliminate or cut down on while breastfeeding:

1.Coffee, tea and cola beverages containing caffeine may cause your baby to be jittery and restless.

2.Alcohol in your blood quickly passes into your breast milk. Too much alcohol in your blood will have the same effect on your baby as it does on you. It can also slow the let-down or release of your breast milk to your baby. Discuss concerns with your health care provider.

3.Smoking is not recommended while breastfeeding. Nicotine is passed through to the breast milk and may be consumed by your baby.

4.Illegal drugs, including marijuana, will pass through breastmilk and are harmful to babies.

5. Avoid excess of sugar intake.

Many medications are passed into breast milk, but usually in such small amounts that the baby is not affected. To be safe, check with your doctor before taking any medication. Always remind doctors , that you are breastfeeding.

Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
During pregnancy as well as while nursing, folic acid is vital for the baby's nervous system. If the mother was on birth control pills prior to pregnancy, she needs more folic acid. vitamin B1 And B12.

Needs for Vitamin A, C, Magnesium, and Zinc are also increased.


DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid is an Omega 3 fatty acid)

DHA is needed for the continued brain and vision development of the baby. The amount of DHA present in the breast milk depends on the amount of DHA available in the mother. Nursing mother should have about 250 mg DHA per day.


Dietary Restrictions
Nursing mother should avoid allergenic foods if one of the parents suffers from food allergies, asthma, or eczema. Common allergenic foods are: milk and dairy products, egg, fish, peanuts, and soy.

I request fellow members to contribute in this regard, this will help so many mothers. If you have any traditional local recipes which are helpful for nursing mother please do share. Lets make it big.



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One of the reader ( Anand ) of this blog of FB suggested the following:

One of the most important supplement for the mother would be Cod Liver oil. It provides DHA and Vitamins D and A. Both very important for the growing child.

Another very important vitamin is K2, which you get from Ghee. Since it is difficult to get this vitamin for vegetarians, it is important to eat a lot of greens, as the K1 from greens has a K2 sparing effect.
K2 is a very important for calcium metabolism, and is required for structural development of the baby

A query about DHA Sources was there on FB regarding this blog :

Sources of DHA : The best sources of DHA are: seafood, algae, and especially coldwater fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are nature's antifreeze. In general, the colder the water, the higher the omega 3 content in the fish oil. Popular sources of DHA are: salmon, sardines, and tuna. Eggs and organ meats have a small
amount of DHA in them, but the healthiest source of dietary DHA is seafood.

Insufficient Milk

Too little B2, or Vitamin C, can produce insufficient milk in breastfeeding mothers.

Basil, and Borage leaves and seeds, stimulate the flow of milk in nursing mothers. Caraway promotes the secretion of milk, and is also good for flatulent colic (especially so in infants). Nursing mothers can use Dill to promote the flow of milk. Dill is particularly good when used in conjunction with Aniseed, Coriander, Fennel and Caraway for settling upset stomachs in baby and mother. Fennel stimulates the flow of milk in nursing mothers - use the tincture or boil the seed in barley water.

Fennel essential oil has traditionally been used to stimulate milk flow in breast-feeding mothers (it is, however, contraindicated in pregnancy). Fennel seeds help milk flow, and, reduces colic in the baby. Nursing mothers can eat Fenugreek seeds to increase their milk production.

Iceland Moss may stimulate the flow of milk, but must not be used if breasts or nipples are inflamed. Excessive doses may irritate your gastrointestinal tract. Milkwort is indicated for nursing mothers whose baby's appetite exceeds the supply of milk. It helps to increase milk production. Polygala amara and P. vulgaris do the same thing but are not quite as potent.

Herbal remedies are Goat's Rue infusion (extract of the dried plant), which may increase milk production. Nettle tea regulates milk flow, and can promote milk flow in breastfeeding mothers. Nettle leaf is rich in Iron and other minerals so makes a great tonic for mother too.

Blessed Thistle is used to increase prolactin levels, thereby increasing milk production. Alfalfa, Dandelion, Horsetail, Oatstraw, Cumin, Vervain, Chlorophyll, Red Raspberry, and warm Marshmallow herb will help bring in good rich milk.

Homoeopathy recommends Agnus castus.

Insufficient milk flow may also be a problem. To maintain adequate milk supply, both breasts should be given to the child during each feeding. Increasing the frequency of feedings may increase milk flow. If after a few days the supply of milk is still low, other factors may be the cause, such as low thyroid hormone secretion, high fever, fatigue, anxiety, and cigarette and marijuana smoking. Drugs of any kind, including alcohol, are passed onto the baby through breast milk. Illness and death from this transfer of substances to the baby are very real possibilities. No one can be sure just how long it will take each person to rid the system of the substances, so nursing while using them can be very dangerous.

Another pregnancy, birth control pills (have a harmful effect on the milk), and general anaesthetics are other causes of insufficient flow. Almost all drugs have been found to enter breast milk, including the following: alcohol, amphetamines, antihistamines, aspirin, barbiturates, caffeine, cocaine, cough syrups with iodine, decongestants, ergotamine, Librium, marijuana, nicotine, antibiotics, opiates (morphine, codeine, Demerol), Tagamet, Tylenol, and Valium. Some of the effects of these drugs on the infant include diarrhoea, rapid heart rate, restlessness, irritability, crying and poor sleeping, vomiting, and convulsions. In addition, some of these drugs may accumulate in the infant and cause addiction.

We have found that increasing your intake of protein, and drinking an optimal amount of water, is very useful for increasing milk production. Fluid can be replaced with water, soup, and juice. 2 1/2 litres would be a minimum amount of water for the average woman, this being increased with exercise and hot weather. 60 grams of actual protein (100 grams of chicken gives you 30 grams of actual protein) is a good amount for the average woman - with breastfeeding it is recommended that you increase your protein intake by another 20 grams (eg 80 grams a day). Pregnant and breastfeeding women have higher requirements for nutrients than normal, around 20% more of the RDA. Homoeopathic remedies are Calcarea carvonica and Pulsatilla.

Nutritional and Herbal support for Breastfeeding include:

Lactagogue Tea - Nursing Tea is a nourishing tonic that helps improve breast milk production in nursing mothers and assists in the management of digestive problems such as colic, flatulence, bloating and abdominal discomfort in mother and baby. For breastfeeding mothers.

Prenatal Nutrients - Prenatal nutrients represents the latest research into the nutritional requirements of pregnant and lactating women. Multivitamin and mineral formula containing the specific nutrients at dosages needed to support women through pregnancy and lactation.

Milk-Flow - A homoeopathic remedy to assist in establishing a regular flow of breast milk in the early days of breast feeding.

Efamarine - A combination of Evening primrose, Fish oil & Vitamin E. A rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Can help boost the body's own stress depleted reserves and help offset some of the more serious problems associated with long term stress. Vital for the healthy development of your baby's brain and skin.

Bio-Whey Optimised Protein Powder - This product is an excellent source of quality bio-available protein, that has one of the highest absorption ratios (able to be used by the body). Provides a complex array of essential building block amino acids, including BCAA's & L-Glutamine.
Thanks  a lot for your additions , you always come up with noteworthy suggestions.
Please explain what is milk flow?
Good article.
Thanks a lot Dr.Sharma
Homoeopathic medicines are also safe and can be given at time of lactation to increase milk flow

Alfalfa is used to stimulate milk production in breastfeeding mothers. It increases quality and quantity of milk in nursing mothers.It also acts as best nutrion supplement to mother

Pulsatilla is helpful in suppression of milk. The breasts are swollen and painful and the flow of milk is absent or scanty. The patient is much depressed and tearful.

Chamomilla is given to mothers in suppressed milk with inflammation of breast with intolerable pain.

Ricinus Communis is also an excellent remedy given in the lower potencies to increase flow in nursing women.

Agnus castus is also a remedy for suppression of the milk where the patient is sad and low-spirited.
Throughout a nursing session the general trend in milk flow is from faster to slower. However, it is not a straight line decrease. Like the tide, there is an ebb and flow. Let me explain.
If you’ve done any pumping, you will have noticed that when you start there is a delay before the milk flows. Once the milk ejection begins, the milk flows faster. The milk might even spray, especially if your breasts were firm when you started. The flow will then be steady for a time, gradually decreasing, and temporarily stopping. If your baby keeps nursing, or if you continue pumping, you will have another milk ejection. The flow will rise again with the next “wave” of milk, but unlike the tide, the flow of milk does eventually stop. Each milk ejection is less forceful and has less volume than the one before. This means that a baby has faster flowing milk at the beginning of a session, when he has a strong appetite, and slower flowing milk at the end, when he is full and sucking more for comfort. Keeping this variable flow rate in mind, the baby’s behavior at the breast becomes a bit easier to read.
Reading your baby’s behavior cues
• If he pulls back and milk is flowing out of the breast, it may be that his swallow is temporarily challenged and he is trying to get breathing space.
• He may have learned from experience that the first letdown is too fast and strong for him to handle comfortably, so he pulls away and waits for it to pass.
• He may pull off the breast once the flow starts. He may have been nursing more for comfort; this extra milk was not what he wanted.
• If he pulls his head back and tugs on the nipple of the first breast in a feeding, and you can tell that that breast feels soft now, he will likely be happy to change to the second breast for a faster flow.
• If he tugs or fusses right from the start he may be impatient for the flow to start. He may want the other breast if he knows it is the faster flowing breast.
As you get to know your baby and your milk supply, you can make educated guesses on what he is trying to tell you.
Variable flow from breast to breast
Milk flow varies from one breast to the other, and it changes throughout the nursing session and throughout the day. I consider this variable flow as nature’s way of providing different flow rates for different babies. Often, tuning in to which breast flows faster, and learning what the baby prefers, can add an extra level of enjoyment to breast nurturing.
When working with mothers, I share “Morgan’s Rule of Thumb for Milk Flow”: The firmer the breast, the faster the flow—the softer the breast, the slower the flow.
Bottle nipple manufacturers and people who bottle-feed a baby have also discovered how important milk flow is to a baby. There are a variety of flow rate nipples available and a mother may need to try many to find the one that flows best for her baby.
Side preference
Not all children have a side preference and there are reasons other than milk flow that can induce an infant to favor one side. For example, a baby may have a broken or cracked clavicle from birth. If so, he will prefer to nurse on the side that does not put pressure on his sore shoulder. If a baby seems distinctly uncomfortable on one side, a therapist may be in order. He may be happy to use both breasts once the restriction or pain that caused his preference is resolved.
For the sake of our discussion here on milk flow, we will assume that there is no underlying physical condition causing the side preference, and that the preference is due to the most obvious cause: the baby’s preference for a faster or slower milk flow.

Ok got it. Thank for clarification

Thanks a lot for the explanation.


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