Breast milk is best for your baby

Breast milk is best for babies. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and Health Promotion Board (HPB) recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Unnecessary introduction of bottle feeding or other food and drinks will have a negative impact on breastfeeding. At around six months of age (but not before 4 months), infants should receive nutritionally adequate and age-appropriate complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond. Consult your doctor before deciding to use infant formula or if you have difficulty breastfeeding.

Abbott Singapore fully recognises breast milk’s primacy, value and superiority and supports exclusive breastfeeding as recommended by the WHO.

The content on this website is intended as general information for Singaporean residents only and should not be used as a substitute for medical care and advice from your healthcare practitioner. The HPB recommends that infants start on age-appropriate complementary foods at around 6 months, whilst continuing breastfeeding for up to 2 years or beyond to meet their evolving nutritional requirements. If no longer breastfeeding, toddlers can switch to full cream milk after 12 months. This should be complemented by a good variety of solid foods from the four main food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, meat and alternatives). For more information on the nutritional requirements of infants and young children, please visit www.healthhub.sg/earlynutrition.

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MATERNAL NUTRITION

Diet for Breastfeeding Mothers

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Good nutrition is essential for your physical wellbeing. A healthy postpartum diet helps you to take in sufficient nutrients for postpartum recovery and breastfeeding. Practicing good eating habits on a postpartum diet will also aid you in losing the weight gained during pregnancy. Read on for some tips for a healthy and balanced postpartum diet.

  1. Avoid Crash Diets

    After childbirth, your body needs sufficient energy and nutrients to recover and also to produce breastmilk. You will need to take in more calories than when you were pregnant in order to do so. Going on a low-calorie crash diet may deprive you of the crucial nutrients required and can affect your supply of breastmilk. Hence, it is recommended that you have a healthy and balanced postpartum diet by eating a variety of nutrient rich foods such as grains, fruit, vegetables and protein daily.

  2. Eat Protein Rich Foods

    Protein rich foods aids in postpartum recovery and building a strong immunity. In addition, including protein in your diet helps to boost your metabolism for weight loss. You can consider eating healthy sources of protein such as lean meats, eggs and fish.

  3. Drink Plenty of Liquids

    As breastmilk consists of largely water by weight, drinking sufficient liquids can help maintain your supply of milk for breastfeeding. Staying hydrated also helps to replace the fluids that are lost through breastfeeding. Hence, you can aim to drink 6-10 glasses of liquids daily to stay hydrated. It will be best if the liquids comprise of water and other nutritious fluids like milk or juice.

  4. Eat Foods High in Fibre

    Foods high in fibre, namely fruits and vegetables, are the foundation of a healthy diet. Fibre helps to prevent constipation. Fruits and vegetables also provide various nutrients such as potassium, vitamin A and B1 that will help boost your milk supply. We suggest eating half a plate of fruits and vegetables at every meal to ensure you consume sufficient nutrients in your diet. Before eating them, be sure to clean your fruits and vegetables properly by washing them under cold running water.

  5. Supplement Your Diet

    Besides eating a balanced diet, you can further supplement your diet with multi-vitamins or maternal milk to ensure that you are getting the essential nutrients for your health. These are some vitamins and minerals that are crucial for breastfeeding mothers:

    • Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is vital for the formation of red blood cells and producing energy. Vitamin B12 is usually found in animal produce such as poultry and eggs.
    • Iron: Your iron levels may drop during breastfeeding. As such, replenishing your iron levels is important to prevent fatigue or an impaired immune system. Common sources of iron include lean red meat and green leafy vegetables.
    • Calcium: As you might experience transient bone loss while breastfeeding, taking in calcium helps to build and maintain bone health. Dietary sources of calcium include nuts and dairy foods such as milk and cheese.

    Maternal milks with the right mix of essential vitamins & minerals crucial for breastfeeding mothers can be good diet supplementation alternatives.

  6. Refrain From Consuming Too Much Highly Processed Foods

    Highly processed foods like donuts, potato chips or cookies are usually high in calories and low in nutrients. Consuming too much highly processed foods can lead to weight gain and diabetes. To maintain a healthy and balanced diet, it is recommended to limit the intake of such foods as much as possible. As an alternative, you can choose to eat healthier snacks such as nuts, fruits or yogurts.

  7. Avoid Consuming Harmful Foods While Breastfeeding

    Breastmilk is a vital source of nourishment for your baby at this stage. Your diet plays a large role during breastfeeding as the nutrients from your diet makes up the breastmilk that your baby ingests. As such, it is important to avoid foods containing potentially harmful ingredients that may be passed to your baby through breastfeeding. Examples of such foods include:

    • Fish with high levels of mercury: Large fish such as swordfish, shark, king mackerel or tilefish contains high levels of mercury. Mercury is a toxic metal that may impair the development of your baby’s brain or affect your baby’s nervous system. Instead, you can opt for fish with lower levels of mercury such as canned light tuna or sardines to get your dose of protein and fatty acids.
    • Alcohol: Alcohol in beverages such as wine, beer or malt liquor, can stay in your system for up to 2 to 3 hours and might be passed to your baby through breastmilk. This may affect your baby’s ability to suckle and may delay your baby’s motor skill development in the future.
    • Caffeine: Caffeine, present in foods such as chocolate, tea, and coffee, is a stimulant that may cause restlessness and irritability in your baby.

    Maintaining a healthy and balanced postpartum diet is essential to provide adequate nourishment for your baby during breastfeeding and for you to regain your pre-pregnancy weight and shape. Remember to be patient and take care of yourself during your postpartum journey.

  8. Notes:

    ParentHelp123 (2015). Postpartum Diet and Exercise. Retrieved from https://www.parenthelp123.org/pregnancy/after-pregnancy/postpartum-nutrition

    McGrane, K. (2020). 5 Foods to Limit or Avoid While Breastfeeding. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/breastfeeding-foods-to-avoid

    Health Promotion Board (2018). An Eating Guide For Breastfeeding Mothers. Retrieved from https://www.hpb.gov.sg/article/an-eating-guide-for-breastfeeding-mothers

    Mandl. E (2017). 16 Effective Tips to Lose Baby Weight After Pregnancy. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/weight-loss-after-pregnancy#TOC_TITLE_HDR_10

    SingHealth (2017). Postnatal Medications and Nutritions. Retrieved from https://www.singhealth.com.sg/patient-care/medicine/postnatal-medications-nutrition/other-info

    Reinagel. M (2019). Top 5 Nutrients for Postpartum Recovery. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/top-5-nutrients-for-postpartum-recovery/

    Choose MyPlate (n.d.). Why is it important to eat vegetables? Retrieved from https://www.choosemyplate.gov/eathealthy/vegetables/vegetables-nutrients-health

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healthy confinement recipe 1:
Braised chicken in ginger wolfberry milk

Credit: Gleneagles Singapore and Chef Catan Tan, Gleneagles Hospital Singapore

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