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The Perks of Breastmilk – Would You Choose to Breastfeed Your Newborn Child?

The Perks of Breastmilk – Would You Choose to Breastfeed Your Newborn Child?

posted: 2019-01-10 14:10:00 +0800

As a new parent, you probably have questions in mind about the best ways to raise your child, including which is the best form of nutrition to provide to your baby.

In recent years, more mothers opt for providing breastmilk over infant formula for their babies. There are various factors to consider when one decides to give one over the other. Depending on the circumstances, some mothers may choose to provide both. If you are a new mom considering providing breastmilk, read on.

Breastmilk benefits

Have you heard of the saying, “Cow’s milk is meant for cows, and breastmilk is meant for humans”?

This statement holds absolute truth. Breastmilk is not only the best source of nutrition for the baby; it also extends its benefits to the mother.

For the baby, breastmilk:

  • Is easier to digest and is more suitable for the infant’s developing digestive system.
  • Consists of DHA and EPA, the essential omega-3 fats that are critical for brain, nerve and retina development.
  • Contains antibodies that are passed from the mother, which helps strengthening the infant’s immune system.
  • May protect the baby from chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure later in life.

For the mother, breastmilk:

  • May reduce the risk for breast and ovarian cancer.
  • May help with losing pregnancy weight.

Breastmilk works on supply and demand

Some individuals claim that certain foods have helped with boosting milk supply. From a western medicine point of view, however, breastmilk production is based on supply and demand. In other words, the more frequent you empty your breasts either by nursing your baby or by pumping milk, the more milk you will produce.

Lactating mothers are generally capable of producing enough milk for their babies, as long as they continue to nurse and/or pump milk. Maintaining your breastmilk supply is crucial as babies rely solely on breastmilk and/or infant formula as their only source of nutrition for growth and development for their first six months of life.

Nutrition affects the quality and quantity of milk

While certain foods may not help with increasing your milk supply, nutrients from the foods you eat get passed onto breastmilk. If you plan to provide breastmilk to your child, keep the following nutrition tips in mind:

  • Nursing mothers generally require an extra 500 calories or more per day. The more you breastfeed, the more calories you will need. To determine the number of calories you need, consult with a registered dietitian.
  • While you will need more calories, eat only to your appetite. Let your body guide you on how much to eat.
  • Nourish your body with a variety of foods, spices and seasonings that are packed with healthy calories. The flavours from your foods get passed onto your breastmilk, which may help your baby to develop tolerances for a wide array of tastes later in life.
  • Protein, iron and calcium are not only vital during postpartum, they are also crucial nutrients for producing good quality breastmilk.
  • Choose healthier food options, such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits, lean meats, fish, nuts, seeds, milk, cheese and yogurt. Limit your intake of foods that provide empty calories, like potato chips, sweetened beverages and deep fried foods.
  • If you are a coffee or tea drinker, have no more than 2 cups (250mL each) of brewed coffee or 4 cups of brewed tea per day. Since caffeine is known to pass onto breastmilk, too much of it may interrupt your baby’s sleep and make her more irritable.

Other essential nutrients for lactating mothers include:

Include omega-3 fats in diet

Since young infants do not have the ability to produce the omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA, lactating mothers are recommended to eat fatty fish with low mercury levels, such as salmon, herring, sardines and rainbow trout, at least twice a week.

Tip: If you do not eat fish yet you choose to provide breastmilk to your baby, you may need to consume algae supplements of 200mg per day.

Drink more fluids

Your fluid intake needs to increase when you breastfeed your baby. The best sources of fluids are water, milk, broth soups and whole vegetables and fruits.

Tip: There is no set amount of fluids that you need. Let your thirst be your guide.

Final Thoughts: Fed is best

Whether you decide to provide breastmilk or infant formula to your newborn, I often tell parents that “Fed is best.” Do not feel pressured to choose one over the other. Instead, choose what works best for you and your baby. At the end of the day, the goal is to provide optimal nutrition for your baby’s growth and development.




This is a Hong Kong GGB original 'The Perks of Breastmilk – Would You Choose to Breastfeed Your Newborn Child?' blogpost.
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blog written by: # Novella Lui (8)
Novella Lui, Editor

Based in Canada and Hong Kong, Novella is a registered dietitian, a bilingual writer, a globetrotter and a foodie. She believes in building healthy relationships with food is key to optimal health and happiness.     > more...

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