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Does your milk supply seem to decrease day by day, even though you didn’t change any routine? Well, if you are not experiencing common issues like engorgement or blocked ducts, perhaps the enemy is among the least expected, like your diet! Even if you feel like you are generally following a healthy, balanced diet, it is still an area worth looking into.
Hence, for this blog, we are excited to have Eunice Tan, the in-house dietitian of Tian Wei Signature and ReLacto onboard to answer all our questions surrounding this topic! “How far does diet affect lactation?” “Are there foods that actually increase milk supply?” Let’s find out today!
Q: Is it true that a new mother’s diet will affect her breastfeeding experience? How?
In some ways, a mother’s diet may affect her breastfeeding experience. Sometimes, if a mother eats too little, she may struggle with producing breast milk especially during the first month of postpartum since the nutritional intake obtained is also used to support a mother’s recovery and wound healing process. If a mother is malnourished, she will feel immense fatigue and may be more prone to getting infections (because her wounds take longer to heal).
Q: How many calories should a breastfeeding mom have in a day? What is the best way to achieve the extra calories?
It definitely differs from person to person but a general guide is a calorie intake of no less than 1800kcal/day to support mothers who breastfeed. Recommended Singapore Dietary Allowance is anywhere between 2000 to 3000kcal/day depending on your body mass index and how active you are.
Q: What are some food or ingredients that can help with milk supply and how?
Some ingredients that are especially recommended – which are also quite common in traditional confinement dishes are ginger, garlic, and unripe papaya or green papaya. I would also suggest adding fennel, fenugreek, and Moringa leaf into your meals or drinks. These can work in different ways to help with your milk production.
Q: To kickstart their breastfeeding well, should moms plan their meals from pregnancy onwards?
So long mothers practice a well balanced and healthy diet throughout pregnancy, mothers should not have to worry about diet affecting her breastfeeding experience.
Q: Are there foods that can make a baby refuse to breastfeed due to the difference in the milk’s texture/consistency, odour, or other factors?
Foods are very rarely the cause of your baby refusing to breastfeed. More often than not, it is due to position or improper latching, or the milk letdown is too slow or too fast. But if you have cancelled out other possibilities and your baby still seems to be fussier than normal, then maybe certain foods could have affected it as well.
If you have identified those foods, you can omit them from your diet for a while and observe. However, do discuss with your paediatrician or dietitian as we do not want you to lose important nutrients for you and your baby. Foods should not be unnecessarily avoided as this may cause more harm than good to you and your baby.
Q: Is it possible for a breastfed baby to develop an allergy through foods consumed by mother? Is it determined by the foods that the mom is also allergic to too?
It is possible. If you have an allergy or have a history of allergy in your family, there is a higher chance that your baby may have a food allergy too. It may be the same or a different food allergy compared to yours. Babies with eczema are also more prone to developing food allergies.
However, this does not mean you unnecessarily avoid specific foods without even trying.
Therefore, speak with your paediatrician before you eat these foods you are concerned about and discuss how you should go about it if you notice your child having an allergic reaction to these specific foods. Generally, you would be advised to avoid it for a specific period of time before reintroducing them back into your diet to observe your baby’s tolerance.
Q: Is a vegetarian/vegan diet good for a breastfeeding mother to follow?
If a mother is a vegetarian or a vegan, she needs to understand which are her plant-based carbohydrates, plant-based proteins and her vegetables. She has to understand how much to include each in her diet in order to have a balanced and healthy diet every day.
On top of it, she needs to understand some vitamins and minerals can be missing or may have poorer absorption rates. Therefore, vegetarians or vegans have a higher risk of being nutrient deficient. It is wise for mothers to consult a dietitian in order to ensure she is having sufficient intake for herself and her little one while breastfeeding.
Q: If I drink alcohol or coffee, is there any way to know that they are out of my blood system and breast milk other than waiting for 3 hours before breastfeeding?
Not drinking alcohol is the safest option for breastfeeding mothers as alcohol exposure increases risk of damaging your little one’s growth and development. But if you do consume alcohol while breastfeeding, up to 2% of alcohol consumed leaks into your breastmilk and peaks at about 2 to 3 hours after consumption of 1 standard drink.
So if you do drink 1 standard drink of alcohol, remember to wait 3 hours before nursing to keep alcohol exposure to your infant minimal. Drinking alcoholic beverages is not an indication to stop breastfeeding, however, consuming more than one drink per day is highly not recommended.
Moderate intake of coffee which is 1 to 2 cups a day is fine. Caffeine intake below 200 to 300mg/day does not show any long-lasting detrimental effect to your baby, should it leak into the breastmilk. Your baby may be more jittery, unable to fall asleep and may appear to be fussier than normal if your caffeine intake is more than 300 mg/day
Q: Any other information that you want lactating mothers to know?
As we all know, omega 3 DHA is important for the development of your baby’s brain. Remember to have omega 3-DHA rich fish at least two times per week to ensure adequate intakes. The more omega 3-DHA intake in mothers, the more omega 3 DHA is present in your breast milk for your little one. Besides that, omega 3 DHA intake has also been associated with lower postpartum depression risk due to its anti-inflammatory properties which regulate neurotransmitters in the brain.
A heartfelt thank you to Eunice Tan, In-House Dietitian at Tian Wei Signature & ReLacto, for being so generous with her knowledge and expertise and sharing them all with us and the mothers reading this. We hope the information shared will help you tremendously as you embark on our journey as a breastfeeding mom.
On another hand, if you have practised a well-balanced diet as recommended by any professional experts and still face breastfeeding difficulties, there are other factors to consider as well.
Incorrect Techniques or Position
Just like mentioned by Eunice, it could be due to improper latching techniques or the position you use during breastfeeding. There are a lot of positions you could try, the football hold, side-lying position, reclined (half seated up) position, plus several others. Hence, make sure to try out different positions to find the ones that work for both you and your baby!
Not sure if your baby is latching properly? Check for these signs of a good latch:
- Your baby’s mouth is wide open around your breast.
- Your baby’s lips are flanged.
- Your baby’s tongue is extended forward under your breast.
- Your baby’s chin touches the breast and nose is free.
- You hear or see swallowing.
If they do all or most of these, you are doing it right!
Issues like poor latch can cause blocked ducts or breast engorgement which could lead to low milk supply, we at PNSG offer the best solution for you; massage! Our Postnatal Massage or Premium Postnatal Massage includes breast massage for increasing milk supply which works to improve lactation by clearing clogged milk ducts and relieving engorgement.
If you need your discomforts to be massaged away for good, we are just one call away! Our post natal massage price starts from $638 for 5 sessions. If you are looking for the best post natal massage singapore, you know where to find us! Reach us at +65 6417 9690 from 9 AM to 6 PM daily to secure your slot. Let us help get rid of what’s getting in the way of your smooth breastfeeding experience! On top of that, our therapist also will demonstrate a baby massage that helps to calm your baby down. What’s there to say no to?