09:09 Friday 26 July 2013

The importance of nutrients when breastfeeding

Written bySimon Bandy

New mums are no strangers to the fact that breastfeeding is the best way of providing their baby with vital nutrients. However, breastfeeding can often bring certain anxieties to mothers of new-borns, such as the best techniques, how often baby will need to feed and whether or not it may be painful.

Mums may also worry about their baby getting enough of the nutrients needed for growth, particularly in the first few weeks of life.

This can be especially worrying for vegetarian and vegan mums, who may be deficient in some vitamins due to the omission of animal products in their diet.

To tie in with World Breastfeeding Week (1 to 7 August), Simon Bandy, nutritionist for vegan-friendly supplements company Veganicity, has compiled some tips for all new mums, and especially vegans, to ensure they are providing their baby with the best possible nutrients:

  1. Eat a healthy diet: Firstly, it’s important for new mums to eat a healthy and varied diet, to obtain nutrients from food. A generous intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, calcium and protein-rich foods is advised, and women should eat a minimum of 1800 calories a day whilst lactating, to help fuel milk production. It’s best to avoid fatty foods and sweets.

  2. Drink plenty of water: it’s also important for breast-feeding mums to stay hydrated. Try and drink at least eight glasses of water per day, and limit caffeine intake to a maximum of 2 or 3 caffeinated drinks per day. Caffeine in breast milk can agitate your baby and affect sleep patterns.

  3. Don’t forget about B Vitamins: Studies have shown that low levels of B vitamins in breast milk are related to the mother’s intake. A regular source of Vitamin B12 is particularly important for babies, as it is critical for the development of the nervous system and to prevent anaemia. The vitamin is found in fish, meat, eggs and milk products, so vegetarians and vegans are particularly susceptible to a B12 deficiency.

  4. The importance of Vitamin D: Research from the University College London Institute of Child Health states that women should take Vitamin D supplements during pregnancy and breastfeeding, because the vitamin is so important for the development of new-born babies. As most of our Vitamin D intake comes from exposure to the sun rather than from our diet, Vitamin D deficiencies can be common in Britain. New mums may be unlikely to spend much time outdoors due to adjusting to life as a parent, as well as the fact that the British climate means sunny days can be rare.

  5. Take a multi-vitamin supplement: If eating a healthy and varied diet alongside adapting to becoming a new parent is proving challenging, taking a multi-vitamin supplement can help to ensure that you are receiving the vitamins and minerals required for optimum health for both mum and baby.

The above mentioned vitamins are available in tablet form from www.veganicity.com. If in doubt about potential vitamin deficiencies in your diet, ask your midwife or doctor for advice. 

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