By Sneha Sadhwani
During the first 6 months of life, the new-born baby is completely dependent on mother’s breast milk for nutrition, growth and development. Hence, it is vital for all the breastfeeding mothers to eat a balanced diet, which provides all the key nutrients that are required for your little one.
During lactation, your body needs 500-600 extra calories. At this point of time, you need to get calories from foods that are nutritious and the ones that promote breast milk production too.
Let’s have a look at healthy food ingredients and some recipes that are great for nursing mothers and their little ones.
1. Fenugreek Or Methi
Fenugreek enhances the breast milk production and it has been used as a galactogogue since ancient times. This is attributed to the presence of plant compounds in it like:
How Can You Add Fenugreek To Your Diet?
- Eat fenugreek leaves subzi or add the leaves to the wheat flour dough while making chapati.
- Brew a cup of fenugreek seed tea.
- Chew 5-6 soaked fenugreek seeds or swallow the seeds with a glass of fresh water.
Oats is a commonly recommended lactogenic food in the Western world and now it is even gaining popularity in India. Oats are rich in iron and they are comfort food, which helps the nursing mother to relax and feel comfortable. Hence, adding oats to the diet may support lactation.
Here’s How You Can Add Oats To Your Diet:
- Have a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. All you need is oats, milk and some nuts. This meal is a great combination of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats.
- Oats can also be used to prepare savory meals like oats upma or an oats pancake.
- You can also make a glass of oats-fruit smoothie, where you just need to blend oats, milk and your favorite fruit like strawberries or banana.
Barley helps in maintaining the hormonal balance and it supports the activity of hormones that are involved in breast milk production. Barley is rich in beta-glucan, a plant compound that increases the activity of prolactin. Prolactin is a hormone that stimulates the breasts to produce milk.
How To Make Barley A Part Of Your Diet?
- Have a bowl of barley porridge topped with your favorite nuts and oil seeds.
- Add barley flour to your regular wheat flour while making chapati.
- You can also prepare barley pulav. Adding some greens or orange-yellow colored vegetables to it will further enhance the lactogenic effect.
These tiny, brown-colored seeds possess estrogenic properties that boost breast milk production in lactating mothers. They not only improve the quantity of milk, but they also improve the quality and composition of breast milk.
Here Are Different Ways Of Adding Flaxseeds To Your Diet:
- Simply chew a teaspoon or two of roasted flaxseeds.
- Add flaxseeds to a bowl of fresh vegetable salad or soup.
- Flaxseed powder can also be added to wheat flour or multigrain flour, which is used for making chapati.
- Sprinkle some flaxseeds on your bowl of oatmeal.
5. Fennel And Fennel Seeds
Fennel contains compounds that mimic the action of estrogen, thus consumption of fennel causes breast growth and enhances milk production.
An interesting scientific study found that consumption of fennel seed powder for 3 months increased the blood prolactin levels in lactating mothers.
Thus, fennel possesses milk stimulating properties and making it a part of the diet is beneficial for lactating mothers.
- Simply chew 1 or 2 teaspoons of raw fennel seeds every day.
- Drink 2-3 glasses of fennel seed water.
- Add fennel seed powder to a glass of milk or tea.
- Fennel seeds can also be added to curries and soups.
- Toss fresh fennel into a salad.
6. Eat Protein-Rich Foods
Every cell of human body is made up of protein. During breastfeeding, the body uses protein from the foods we eat to produce breast milk. This enhances the composition of breast milk, which improves baby’s growth and development.
It helps your little one to grow new cells and muscles and also improves brain development. Make sure you add a source of protein to all your meals.
Good sources of protein include:
- Legumes, beans and pulses
- Milk, curd, paneer and cheese
- Chicken and eggs
- Nuts and oil seeds
7. Fruits And Vegetables
During lactation, mothers are often recommended to enjoy fresh, seasonal and bright-colored fruits and vegetables.
Green leafy vegetables contain calcium, magnesium and other plant compounds that stimulate breast milk production and supply vital nutrients to the baby that are required for baby’s overall good health.
Orange, yellow and red colored fruits and vegetables contain beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Beta-carotene stimulates antioxidant defenses in breastfed infants and boosts the immune system too.
Note: Fat is required for the absorption of beta-carotene in the body. Hence, it is important to add a source of fat to beta-carotene rich food preparations.