A breastfeeding mother may be advised to consume an extra 500 calories per day depending on their usual intake although studies have pointed out that this can be too much or too little for some women. In fact, the number of calories a woman requires during breastfeeding varies depending upon her volume of body fat and how active she is.
Most women will be required to not only increase calorie consumption but also other nutrients that making up their diet. If they have a varied, balanced diet then a calorie increase will effect an automatic increase in all the other nutrients.
Most women usually find that they have gained weight during their pregnancy. The additional weight will be deployed during the stages of breastfeeding so lack of certain nutrients should not make much difference to their milk production.
Research has proved human milk production does not use a lot of energy, however a womans metabolism is more efficient with the right amount of calories and minerals. No special foods are needed to produce or increase a woman’s milk supply, rather, the quantity of milk depends upon the babys needs and her sucking. During lactation, the body uses a combination of the foods the mother eats normally along with the nutrients stored in her body to ensure there is an adequate supply of milk.
Milk production follows the same process and composition when the mothers diet is inadequate as her body will make up for any shortfall of nutrients in her diet. This is proven when studying third world countries where there is malnutrition. The milk produced by malnourished women always meets the needs of her infant.
Of course it is advisable to maintain a balanced, varied diet, but there are no foods that should or shouldnt be eaten to ensure an adequate supply of milk. Traditional ideas and taboos of what to eat and what not to eat during lactation vary between different countries, cultures and religions.
A babys taste preferences may develop through their mothers breast milk. Although some of the ingredients found in human milk are present regardless of her diet, other ingredients may vary according to what she eats. Even though the calorie content remains consistent, the type of fat consumed by the mother relates to the type of fat the mother produces in her milk.
A lactating woman does not need to drink milk to produce milk. Humans are actually the only animals that drink the milk of other animals. Some cultures refrain from drinking milk or eating milk products yet their mothers are still able to produce milk for their infants.
A lactating woman is still able to obtain enough calcium from the foods she eats to provide enough for her infant if she does not consume milk herself. However, calcium is an important part of a balanced diet and should be consumed in some form to help maintain health.
During lactation, you should drink when thirsty, and you are drinking enough if your urine is light in color. It is normal to feel thirst when you breastfeed, particularly when the baby is a newborn so it is advisable to have a drink of water or juice available whilst feeding.
Did you like this article? Then you'll really want to sign up for my newsletter. It's delivered several times a week and packed with science news and analysis. Subscibe Here.