Eating a nursing mother is a very important aspect of parenting. It must be balanced because from it the baby receives all the nutrients for growth and development. However, what does “balanced nutrition” mean in this case? Is this the meager diet that is recommended today for a woman who has just given birth? Among the myths about motherhood, the strictly limited nutrition of a woman while breastfeeding is perhaps one of the most common. Let’s study the issue in more detail. But before moving on to the nutritional characteristics of the mother during the entire lactation period, we will consider the important nuances of the first hours and days of the life of the mother and child after childbirth.
So, you have given life. In the previous chapter, we talked in detail about how energetically the childbirth process is for both a woman and a baby, what colossal resources the body uses during the act of human birth. Naturally, after giving birth, a woman needs to recuperate. And this should be done, oddly enough, not with food, but with fasting. Digestion is an incredibly complex process that requires a lot of energy from the body tired after childbirth. It is amazing why many doctors still ignore this simple anatomical fact. If we look at the diet offered to mothers in maternity hospitals, we will see a classic Soviet canteen with many unhealthy foods.
But the most obvious confirmation that you cannot overload the body with food in the first time after childbirth is the woman’s complete lack of appetite. Nature itself regulates this process. As a rule, during childbirth, the body receives overdoses of adrenaline and must recover from such stress. This recovery is facilitated to a greater extent by oxytocin, which stands out from the fact of the closeness of the mother and the newborn baby, from the attachment to the breast, from this quiet, intimate solitude between two so close creatures that finally met. Needless to say that the constant distraction of a woman from enjoying the role of a mother (for example, if the child is separated from the mother and is only brought to feed every 3 hours; if the mother is constantly distracted by the need to settle some formal documentary issues; and in that number,
There is an opinion that the mother needs to eat a lot so that milk comes in time after colostrum. However, the calorie content of the food consumed by the mother has practically no effect on the milk supply and its nutritional value. Here, a much more significant role is played by the frequent latching of the baby to the breast (stimulates the release of oxytocin and ensures the establishment of breastfeeding) and the calmness of the mother (anxiety is caused by the release of adrenaline and “extinguishes” oxytocin in the blood). Now let’s think about whether a woman who is not hungry and does not think about food will be pacified by a constant demonstration of the need to eat and eat more? Unlikely. Therefore, the best option for the first days after childbirth is a light diet at the request of the body. It is quite possible (and in some cases even shown) conditional fasting. The body needs to recuperate and prepare for a new important stage of parenting. There is no need to overload it and take away energy from it.
Now we will consider the issue of further nutrition of the nursing mother. In most cases, women are convinced of the need to significantly limit their diet, to exclude everything that can provoke allergies and flatulence in a baby. Thus, young mothers are left alone with buckwheat and zucchini. However, are there any real grounds for such restrictions?
Mother’s milk has a very complex composition. It is synthesized not from the contents of the mother’s stomach, but from blood and lymph. The nutrition of a woman after childbirth should in no way be any special or different from nutrition during pregnancy.
- Firstly, pregnancy, childbirth and lactation are natural, natural processes that are laid down at the level of a woman’s physiology and cannot critically depend on her diet.
- Secondly, during pregnancy, the child gets used to the mother’s diet and, in principle, can continue to consume the same foods that he received through the placenta and umbilical cord. The risk of allergies in a baby with such a mother’s diet is minimal. As for the occurrence of flatulence and colic in newborns, these phenomena are almost always associated with the process of the formation of the child’s gastrointestinal tract and the start of independent digestion. Moreover, the mother’s eating of certain foods does not in any way affect the increase or decrease of colic. However, most vegetarians note that their children either did not have colic problems at all, or experienced them extremely quickly and not as restlessly as non-vegetarian children. It’s all about the healthier development of the baby and the formation of his internal organs (including the gastrointestinal tract) during pregnancy on vegetarianism.
- Thirdly, nature itself tells us the correct diet for a nursing mother, because not a single mammal has changed its diet after giving birth.
“While breastfed, I continued to eat what I ate during pregnancy. Note that I did not limit myself to the use of citrus and red vegetables and fruits, which are believed to cause allergies in the baby. Nothing of the sort happened. There was a lot of milk, and my baby was happy to eat it in unlimited quantities – I fed on demand. “
Anna Solovey, musical director of the kindergarten, mother of Nadezhda.
Thus, the idea of excluding many foods from the diet of a lactating woman is fundamentally wrong. During breastfeeding, as well as during pregnancy, a woman should eat as fully and varied as possible, consume a lot of greens, seasonal fruits and vegetables, refuse products with synthetic additives, hormones and antibiotics. However, a similar recommendation can be given to anyone who wants to adjust their lifestyle in the direction of health and benefits. Vegetarianism in its various variations fully satisfies the needs of any organism for nutrients, important trace elements and vitamins. In the case of allergies or flatulence, babies have an individual reaction to a specific product or combination of products. Moreover, most likely, this is not the reaction of the baby, but of the mother herself. Her intestine reacts to some specific food and through the blood transmits the allergy to the baby. Since the child has the mother’s microflora in the body, the child also begins to respond to the product. But, given the purity and extraordinary susceptibility of the infant organism, the reaction manifests itself much brighter than that of an adult woman.
It is important to remember that each mom-baby pair is very individual. It is possible to reveal the child’s reaction to this or that product used by the mother, it is possible only empirically (or if the mother or father is an obvious allergy). If you see an allergic reaction in your baby, eliminate possible allergenic foods from your diet for several weeks. Then gradually introduce these foods back into your diet. If the reaction does not recur, it’s not nutrition. Allergies can be caused by dust, pets, children’s household cleaning products (which are best avoided altogether). If the reaction to any product is repeated, exclude it again for a while, and then use it again.
The fact is that if a child reacts to a product, breastfeeding is in this case a kind of “safety cushion” for him. Breast milk significantly reduces the severity of the allergic reaction. Thus, by periodically receiving a food allergen, the child’s body has the ability to develop the ability to cope with allergies. That is why, in the case of infants with allergies, it is so important not to complete breastfeeding until the baby has tried all the foods that will make up his diet in the future. None of these foods during lactation should be excluded from the mother’s diet forever. We are talking, of course, about healthy products, not refined, canned, synthetic or slaughter food. Therefore, the so-called “nursing mother’s diet”, which is universal for all women, is completely ridiculous. It is advisable to introduce it only in specific cases, but it is in no way to recommend the same diet to all lactating women. But then why is the dissemination of these recommendations persistently supported?
First, almost all the statistics accumulated in the USSR regarding the norms of newborn care (for example, on feeding a child and feeding a mother after childbirth) was collected on the basis of indicators of artificial children (mainly from orphanages), and not babies. Including statistics on allergic reactions to milk. There were indeed many of them, but for what kind of milk? On the artificial, and not on the breast, that is, the mixture. As a rule, choosing a formula that would suit your child is quite difficult. Mothers who, for one reason or another, practice artificial feeding, often encounter the child’s reaction to any element in the composition of different infant formula.
It is also completely wrong to think that by refusing to breastfeed, mom will avoid having to follow a strict diet. With artificial feeding, a woman does not have such a gentle way to reduce allergies or completely rid her baby of it, as when feeding with breast milk. As a result, in the case of an allergy in a child, when introducing complementary foods, a woman will be forced to exclude allergenic products from the family table herself, so as not to provoke the baby’s food interest in them and not injure him with the prohibitions on eating what the parents eat. So, here too, breastfeeding undoubtedly has many more benefits.
Secondly, a huge baby food industry has been created today. That is why the idea of the need to impoverish the diet of a nursing woman is beneficial. Indeed, without a full and varied diet, a woman’s lactation period can be significantly reduced. Then, instead of two years, she will breastfeed for 4–6 months (maximum 1 year). Then she will be forced to transfer the child to formula, lowering the quality of his health and bringing daily income from sales to the cashier of baby food manufacturers. In addition to mixtures, it is also required to purchase bottles, nipples and other related products. This is business, not childcare.
As you can see, breastfeeding does not in any way impoverish the mother’s diet. On the contrary, it allows her to eat qualitatively, without limiting herself in the usual healthy foods.