Nutritional requirements for breast-feeding
Mothers who are breast-feeding should be encouraged to obtain their nutrients from a well-balanced, varied diet and to drink about 2 litres (3 ½ pints) of fluid per day to maintain their milk production.
As with pregnant women, breast-feeding women have an increased requirement for calories and essentially all nutrients, especially protein, vitamins A and C, and calcium.
Mothers who are producing milk should make sure that they get 1250mg of calcium each day. About two to eight per cent of total body calcium is used for production of breast milk. Mothers usually replace this calcium after a pregnancy; however, women who have several children or short intervals between their pregnancies may not be getting enough calcium to replace the loss, putting them at risk of developing the bone disorder osteoporosis later in life.
Vitamin and mineral supplements
Requirements for almost all nutrients are increased during lactation. For example, an extra 350mcg vitamin A is needed every day, as well as an extra 30mg of vitamin C, an extra 2mg of niacin, an extra 60mcg of folate, and an extra 50mg of magnesium; an extra 6mg of zinc is needed for the first four months and thereafter an extra 2.5mg. Ante-natal vitamin supplements are often prescribed to breast-feeding women in order to ensure they have an adequate intake of the required vitamins and minerals.
Foods to avoid while breast-feeding
Substances from some foods that a mother eats while breast-feeding may pass into her milk and affect the baby in adverse ways. In many cases, this will first be noted by the mother whose baby seems to be suffering from colic or having abdominal bloating and wind. Other symptoms may include diarrhoea, vomiting, bronchitis, wheezing, runny nose, and skin rashes.
Foods eaten by the mother that may cause these symptoms in breast-fed babies include cow's milk and other dairy products, eggs, wheat products, citrus fruits, caffeine, chocolate, garlic, cabbage, and cucumber.
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