Nutrition during lactation

Beat dieticians is excited to share the ups and downs of your pregnancy. We are skilled to assist with the following:

  • Recommended weight gain and healthy weight gain tips during pregnancy
  • Increased nutrient needs and how to ensure a sufficient intake through a healthy diet
  • Supplementation advice during pregnancy
  • Foods to avoid during pregnancy and alternatives
  • Common side effects during pregnancy and management thereof through diet and meal planning (nausea, vomiting, constipation, heartburn, taste/smell aversions)

During lactation, adequate nutrition is extremely important as this is the sole source of your infants' intake.
Nutrient requirements are much higher than any other female as the mother has to meet her own requirements as well as that of her fast-growing infant. If the mothers' diet is inadequate in any one of the nutrients, she will draw from her own reserves to supply adequate nutrition in her breastmilk. This increases the mothers' risk for deficiencies comprises her immunity. Deficiencies in the mother will lead to deficiencies in her breastmilk.

"My Pregnancy Journey" is an App we helped develop that patients can download for more guidance.

Why breastfeeding is considered the golden standard?

Breastfeeding may be considered the golden standard because research results on breastfeeding and the mother show:

  • Women with a history of breastfeeding (ever having breastfed) to those having never breastfed have a reduced risk of maternal ovarian cancer.
  • Women with a history of breastfeeding (ever having breastfed) to those having never breastfed have a reduced risk to develop maternal type 2 diabetes.
  • Some epidemiological data suggest that early cessation of breastfeeding or not breastfeeding is associated with an increased risk of maternal postpartum depression.
  • Long term breastfeeding (12 to 24 months or more) appears to be associated with lower postpartum weight retention. Expected weight loss after pregnancy is 0.8 kg per month WITHOUT decreasing energy intake.
  • Women that exclusively breastfeed for six months and continue to breastfeed for 12 months or more have reduced maternal iron losses by delaying the return of regular ovulation and lengthening birth intervals.
Why should I breastfeed?
  • Breastmilk is free
  • Breastfeeding straight from the breast does not require any bottle cleaning - more hygienic
  • Breastfeeding aids bonding between the infant and mother

Research results on breastfeeding and your infant:

  1. Breastmilk is easier digestible - lower risk for gastrointestinal complications.
  2. Long-term breastfeeding (longer than 6 months compared to less than 6 months) in healthy term infants is associated with a reduced risk of childhood leukaemia.
  3. Preterm infants or low birthweight infants on breastmilk (including donor breastmilk) compared to formula-fed infants is associated with a reduced risk of necrotizing enterocolitis.
  4. Infants with a history of breastfeeding (ever having been breastfed) compared to infants never having been breastfed have a reduced risk of acute otitis media (ear infections), non-specific gastroenteritis and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  5. A history of breastfeeding has also been associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity and lower blood pressure levels and blood cholesterol levels in later life.
  6. Breastmilk = perfect temperature
  7. Lower risk for infection/diarrhoea as no bottle is involved.
  8. Iron, zinc and calcium are better absorbed from breastmilk.
  9. Research shows fewer dental problems in children that have been breastfed.
  10. Breastmilk has the perfect composition of protein, carbohydrate, fat.
  11. When breastfeeding your baby builds antigens against allergies by getting small amounts of through breastmilk.
  12. Breastmilk allows familiarization to different food flavours through breastmilk, this makes an introduction to solids at around 4-6 months easier.
  13. Breastmilk results in a stronger immunity to fight disease.
How long to breastfeed?

Your dietician will assist with the following:

  • Advice on continuing to breastfeed after maternity leave
  • Keeping, storing and thawing of breastmilk
  • What containers to use when expressing breastmilk
  • Latching tips
  • Common problems associated with breastfeeding (painful nipples, invert nipples, let-down failure, hyper-active let down, hyperlactation, engorgement, plugged duct, mastitis, low milk production,
  • Understanding and preventing factors that may affect breastmilk
Factors affecting breastmilk
  1. Exercise
    Moderate exercise does not adversely affect the quality or quantity of breastmilk.
    Breastfeed before exercise if baby dislikes higher levels of lactate in breastmilk after exercise.
  2. Alcohol
    Best to avoid alcohol when breastfeeding as alcohol may decrease milk production and affect your babies sleeping pattern.
  3. Gas-forming foods
    If your baby struggles with severe cramps. It might be worth it to investigate your diet. Keep a food diary to identify when cramps become worse and see if there is relevance or a pattern with the food that you eat. Gas-forming foods might be one of the common triggers, so either decrease your intake or avoid it completely if you see a correlation between intake and symptoms.
  4. Foods that might influence the taste of breastmilk
    • Foods with strong or spicy flavours may alter the flavour of breastmilk
    • Familiar flavours enhance the enjoyment
    • Sudden change in taste may annoy some infants
    • Avoid dietary restrictions to prevent or delay the onset of food allergy (do not exclude nuts, milk, fish, soy, wheat in your diet unless the child has been diagnosed with allergy)
    • Only eliminate foods temporarily if it causes discomfort for infant
  5. Smoking and breastfeeding
    • Nicotine is transferred directly into the breastmilk of smoking and snuff-taking mothers. Mothers should quit smoking, if possible. If this is not possible, harm minimization strategies include: limit smoking as much as possible, prolong the time between the last cigarette smoked and breastfeeding to minimize the exposure, switch to nicotine patches, smoke outside the house, and avoid smoky environments.
    • Low levels of vitamins C and E, fat, iodine and metallothionein are found in the breastmilk of mothers that smoke compared to non-smokers' breastmilk. Orotic acid levels in breastmilk are also higher in the women that smokes.
    • Smoking, while and after pregnancy contribute to infant colic.
    • Maternal smoking is associated with an increased risk of childhood obesity, asthma and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). This can be due to the direct effect of nicotine, environmental exposure to tobacco smoke during infancy or exposure through breastfeeding.
    • Maternal smoking has been linked to decreased academic performance and increased incidence of acute respiratory illness when the infant was bottle-fed compared to breastfed.
parallax background

Check out some tools