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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Diet and Fitness Diet for Lactating mothers

Diet for Lactating mothers

The nutrition demand is more on the mother during lactation. The nutritional relationship between mother and child continues for more time after delivery. The newborn baby is given only breast milk for first 3 months of life so the mother's diet should be adequate with all needed nutrients.

There is an increased demand for nutrients during lactation to not only produce enough breast milk for the infant but also to ensure the milk is nutrient dense. 

Nutritional requirement

An additional 550 kcal for first six months and 400 kcal during the next six months are required for a lactating mother. The metabolic work involved in producing milk requires around 400calories. This need for extra calories can be me by including whole grain cereals, pulses, milk and milk products in the daily diet.

there is an increased protein requirement during this period due to milk production. According to ICMR normal protein requirement of an adult woman is about 50gm per day and this is increased by another 25gm for the initial 6 months and 18gm during the next 6 months. If the mother’s diet is low in protein then there is a reduced milk quantity but the quality remains the same. Few rich sources of protein are eggs, milk and milk products, nuts, cereal and pulse combination.

Calcium is one of the important minerals required both during pregnancy and during lactation. During lactation calcium is required for the milk production. Calcium for a normal adult woman is 400mg per day and this is increased to 1000mg during lactation. It is necessary for a feeding mother to include about 500 ml of milk and milk products per day to meet this increased demand.

the iron requirement during this period is the same as an adult woman, about 30 mg per day. Fetus stores enough iron to survive for the initial 6 months after birth. This is because the mother’s milk is not a good source of iron. Therefore the iron intake of the mother during this period is just enough to replenish the blood lost during labor.

Along with the increase in calories, protein and minerals during lactation the vitamin requirement is also increased. This increase is to meet the requirement of milk secreted.

Drink 10 - 12 glasses of water every day. Along with all the nutrients there is a increase requirement of water during lactation. It plays an important role in milk production; after all major content of milk is water.