Every year, World Breastfeeding Week is observed from August 1-7 to protect, promote and support breastfeeding worldwide. Breastfeeding a newborn, up to the age of six months, is considered extremely crucial because it not only provides it with nutrition, but also gives it immunity to various diseases. While scientific research indicates that 90% of women can produce enough Milk for their children, only 41% of infants are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life.
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Emphasizing the same, Dr Preethi Gowda, Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Fortis Hospital, Nagarbhavi, said, “We often forget that milk production is directly proportional to a child’s desire. When breastfeedingthe nerves of Breast signal the brain to release “prolactin”. It is the hormone responsible for milk production. If the child is under a breastfeeding routine, especially at night, another important hormone called oxytocin stimulates milk production.
In addition, factors such as the mother’s environment, her emotional well-being, her diet and whether she has had any medical problems in the past determine milk production, the expert said.
Thus, lactation can be increased through nutritious feeding and keeping mothers relaxed and without stress. Dr Savitha Shetty, Senior Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist at Apollo Hospitals, Sheshadripuram, Bengaluru, said: “For nursing mothers, the calorie requirements are far greater than in pregnancy.”
Consume These Foods To Increase Lactation Supply
Shalini Arvind, Chief Dietitian, Fortis Hospital, Bannergatta Road, suggested eating foods high in protein, fat and micronutrients such as vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, C, folic acid and vitamin B12, calcium and iron to increase lactation supply. “These foods promote the flow of breast milk by increasing the level of prolactin in the body,” she says.
“Lactogenic foods include fenugreek, barley, dark leafy green vegetables vegetables, carrot, beet, yam, turmeric, walnut, green papaya, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds and watercress seeds stimulate lactation in mothers. A breastfeeding mother should stay well hydrated and eat enough fiber-rich foods to avoid constipationadds the dietitian.
Agree with Dr Shetty, adding that nursing mothers should consume at least 4 glasses of milk a day and never restrict the water admission. “Some foods improve breast milk like dill leaves called sabbaki in Canada. Incorporate lots of fresh coconut in the kitchen for breastfeeding mothers. Fenugreek seeds are a good galactagogue,” she said.
In addition, food products such as oatsmillets, brown rice, barley, chickpeas, cashews, walnuts, sesame and linencan also help boost milk production in nursing mothers, said Dr. B Gowthami, consultant – obstetrician and gynecologist at Milann Fertility and Birth Hospital.