Low milk supply: If a mother experiences a period of low
milk supply, she can consult with a knowledgeable source to
discuss alternatives for her situation. Possible suggestions
may include nursing the baby more often, switching sides and
positions several times during a feeding, using a breast
pump to stimulate the milk supply, and learning techniques
to condition the let-down reflex. In addition to building
the milk supply, the breastfeeding mother may also want to
evaluate her diet for acceptable nutritional levels. Protein
and calcium intake needs to be checked since they are the
two nutrients that require the greatest daily increase
The amount of fluids the breastfeeding mother is drinking
might also need to be monitored. Many mothers drink a glass
of fluid with every nursing or pumping session. Thirst
should be the main indicator of how much the nursing mother
drinks during the day, since over-drinking can interfere
with prolactin and may reduce the milk supply.
Chronic or acute disease: The mother diagnosed with a
chronic or acute disease may also have special dietary
needs. If mother and baby must be separated during motherís
illness, regular expression of her milk will maintain the
milk supply and prevent a breast infection. Milk can be
collected by hand expression or use of a manual, battery, or
electric breast pump. When ill, mother will need extra
nutrients to aid healing and replace any loss of body stores
or reserves. If feverish, mother will be burning up body
fluids and will need to drink frequently to replace this
loss. The physician should be told that mother is
breastfeeding so that medications are checked for
appropriateness for the nursing couple.
Vegetarian diet: Mothers practicing a vegetarian diet should
continue to eat a variety of foods with special attention to
including complete proteins through complementary plants.
Vegetarian mothers who are breastfeeding may be at risk for
a Vitamin B12 deficiency which can have serious consequences
for the baby. Sources of Vitamin B12 include fortified soy
milk, fortified yeast and supplemental vitamin preparations.
Persons contemplating a vegetarian diet can consult a
nutritionist or dietitian to be sure their diet is adequate.
Breastfeeding mothers can continue to enjoy a wide variety
of foods. Questions about personal nutritional needs can be
referred to nutritionist or dietitian. Volunteer
organizations such as La Leche League can also answer many
of these questions and provide valuable support as can
certified lactation consultants. The public library has many
books on nutrition and food preparation.
Foods with similar nutrient content are conveniently grouped
together into six basic food groups: Milk/dairy, protein,
grain, vegetable, fruit and fats/sweets. Every personís
total daily food intake should be well-balanced among these
to provide a nutritious, healthful diet. The daily food
guide is especially helpful in planning daily food choices
for meals. The recommended number of daily servings for
pregnant adolescents and pregnant and lactating women is
presented in the table below.
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