After nine months of constantly keeping a check on her dietary restrictions, a new mother can finally relax a little after giving birth. It is essential to maintain a healthy and balanced diet when breastfeeding, as the new born baby gets all of their required nutrients from the mother’s milk. Post-delivery, limitations that previously were put in place can be eased but care must be taken to consume everything in moderation. It is also imperative for new mothers to include different sources of vitamins and minerals in their diet to maintain their as well as the baby’s health, says Rohit Shelatkar, fitness and nutrition expert, VP at Vitabiotics Ltd.
Here’s what needs to be included in the mother’s diet:
A growing baby needs to develop their bone structure, and calcium is the best aid for that. It also plays a crucial role in the development of the new born baby’s teeth. Milk, cheese, yogurt, tofu and nuts are some of the foods that are rich in calcium and must be included in the diet. Calcium is vital for lactating mothers as well as they lose up to 15 per cent of their body’s calcium and about 3-5 per cent of their bone mass.
Iron aids in the development of the baby’s brain and blood cells and should be a part of the new mother’s diet. Lentils, beans, tofu, spinach and cashews are natural sources of iron and must be incorporated into the meal plan. Iron is also very essential for new mothers as there is loss of blood during delivery, followed by tiredness and long nights with the infant.
Fats create energy, aid in brain development, keep skin and hair healthy and strengthen the baby’s immune system to fight infections. Due to this, inclusion of fat in the new mother’s diet should be a priority. Good sources of fat include avocados, cheese, dark chocolate, ghee, chia seeds and extra virgin olive oil.
Responsible for providing energy and aiding in development of cells, proteins are necessary for the new born baby’s growth. Beans, legumes, lean meat, poultry, eggs, milk, cheese and tofu are rich in protein and need to be included in the diet.
A crucial source of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), Omega 3 fatty acids offer a host of benefits including aiding the development of the baby’s eyes and brain, reducing risk of chronic diseases, decreasing effects of ADHD, and more. The best sources of Omega 3 fatty acids are fish like salmon and trout, along with some vegetarian options like flaxseed, soy, walnuts and pumpkin seeds. Fish oil supplements should be considered if fish is not a part of the new mother’s diet.
Probiotics are ‘good’ bacteria that help fight ‘bad’ infection-causing bacteria. This is important for the new born, as during this time, their immune system is very weak. Yogurt, paneer, green peas, kimchi, pickles, idli and buttermilk are excellent sources of probiotics that should be incorporated into the meal plan.
Vitamins hold a special place as they offer multiple benefits to both mother and child. For the new born, vitamins help in hair growth, vision development, strengthening of immune system, protecting cells from damage and blood clotting. Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, D, E and K are vital and need to be a part of the diet.