Breast feeding - Learnings from a new mother
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|   Mar 10, 2017
Breast feeding - Learnings from a new mother

Ah, I became a new mother recently, and started on an emotional roller coaster - fell in love and rose in love, was overwhelmed, did overwhelm, have laughed and cried, have my heart burst with joy with the lovely giggles and pulled my hair with the tantrums every day...yes, it’s a lovely roller coaster !

So, I am one of the new moms who did not listen to her mom and grand mom when it came to breast feeding. I followed my doc to the T  i.e. atleast 6 months exclusive bf, followed by solids and weaning!

Was it the right decision?

Well, have mixed feelings about it as the child did not take to bottle feed later (until 1.2 years) – so continued to breast feed and yes, it is rewarding but very tough (as I was warned ample times) – but then we learn from experience – so, if you want it easy for yourself and the kid both, start with bottle early on, may be a month later or through the start! 

Having said that, my daughter finally left breast feeding at 2 years. So, yes, it does look that it would never end, but it sure does. So, just follow your heart and do what you feel is right/ appropriate for you!

A few tips on breast feeding:

The system for rearing a child is self-sufficient; we do not need anything from outside. However, we can support it by overcoming the deficiencies of our own body by eating right and following a few do’s and don’ts.

Though the new age doctors advise that there is no special diet for breast feeding mothers but there is ages-old wisdom available with our elders which can help enhance the quality of milk and nutrition for the baby.  There goes in it the treasure of Ayurveda and deep knowledge on how different ingredients help enhance the quality and quantity of mother’s milk. 

You will be given a plenty of this information the moment you have a baby – you can choose to follow what seems logical/ scientific and appropriate to you. It’s all about regulating the hormones and diet plays an important role in this. 

  1. Restrictive diet: In Indian families, first 40 days post pregnancy are considered quite crucial and new mothers are put on a restrictive diet. The purpose is to help the mother’s body heal and to help the baby adapt to the new food habits of this world! The advice of what you can and cannot eat varies from region to region. However, the common rule is to take food that is soft on the stomach and does not irritate the baby’s tummy and enhances breast milk. You might be put on a diet without curd, Rajma, cabbage, cauliflower, and other gassy foods which will limit what you can eat. It can get quite frustrating for the new mother to be under such restrictive diet. Since there is very limited scientific research to prove and not many scientific studies to support the restrictive diet, the new age doctors advise against it and would ask you to eat everything. The major challenge one faces is to deal with the conflicting information available and decide what to do.  

A good advice I got was to try all foods and be sensitive and observant about what does not suit baby’s tummy and moods (fussiness, gassiness, colicky behaviour), follow that pattern and avoid such foods. Since, everything you eat reaches the baby through breast milk, a little caution helps. In my case, Rajma (red kidney beans) used to be an irritant and would make my baby colicky. So, I just avoided it! You can follow the same if complete restrictive diet is not your cup of tea. 

  1. Foods to enhance breast milk:  A balanced diet rich in protein, calcium, iron, vitamins, carbohydrates and fats (in optimum amount) is the key to a healthy life and this becomes all the more important when you are rearing your little one. Since everything you eat passes to the baby through the breast milk, it is important to eat right. Studies have shown that most healthy breastfeeding women maintain an abundant milk supply while taking in 1800-2200 (or more) calories per day. 

There are certain foods/ ingredients that in addition to being nutritious are traditionally known to help enhance quality and quantity of breast milk. It is good to include these in your diet (in moderation) while you are breast feeding. 

  1. Seeds: fenugreek seeds (Methi), fennel seeds (saunf), cumin seeds (jeera), and sesame seeds (til)
  2. Dry fruits: cashews and almonds
  3. Vegetables: green leafy vegetables like paalak, methi, sarson, , bathua, carrots, asparagus, dill leaves, bottle gourd (lauki), apple gourd (tinda) and sponge gourd (tori), garlic
  4. Fruits: apricots, figs, dates, papaya
  5. Whole grains: oatmeal, brown rice, barley
  6. Pulses: masoor dal, chick pea
  7. Gond (Edible gum), Sabudana

Here are a few traditional dishes that are prepared for new mothers in traditional Indian homes (will be sharing recipes soon):

  1. Gond/ methi laddu
  2. Panjiri
  3. Saunf/ methi tea
  4. Masoor dal
  5. Moong dal khichdi
  6. Garlic milk

In addition, it is important to nurse frequently (on a regular basis) to maintain a consistent breast milk supply.  It is a scientifically proven fact that the stimulation of the nerves with breastfeeding, as well as the removal of milk, signal to your body to ramp up production. 

  1. Don’ts during breastfeeding

What you consume reaches your baby through breast milk, therefore, it is important to be cautious for the health of the baby.

  1. Alcohol, tobacco/ nicotine and caffeine. Limit your consumption of alcohol, nicotine and caffeine during breast feeding. If they pass to the baby through breast milk, it can affect the sleep cycles and brain development of the baby. A glass of wine and 1-2 cups of tea/ coffee may be acceptable but more than this can put your baby at risk. Please also keep in mind not to breastfeed the baby atleast 2 hours after you have consumed alcohol.

  1.  Medicines: Consult with your physician before you take any medicines.  Since the drugs may be passed to the baby through breast feeding, it is important to know their affect before your consume any drugs and herbs.  As per the regulatory requirements, pharmaceutical companies are mandated to conduct studies on the adverse effects of the drugs on breast feeding babies. The information is available with the physicians and can help you safely use the medications, when required.

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