Pregnancy and Lactation

Pregnancy and Lactation

Pregnancy and Lactation

By Dr Rakhi Gupta , Gynaecology

During the progressive stages of pregnancy and lactation, the psychological bearing as well as the nutritional needs of the mother’s body undergoes a wide range of changes. Keeping in mind the various perquisites of fetal care, the lifestyle of the mother also needs to adapt to several new norms and practices. Since lactation is one of the foremost factors that affect the development of the fetus, alterations in maternal tissues and metabolism are vital for the upkeep of the health of both mother and child. During the lactation stages, the mammary glands and the placenta have specific requirements for certain high energy yielding nutrients. Not always can the genetic and the environmental needs of the child be met through maternal diet and it becomes mandatory to take a new health boosting supplements.

It, therefore, necessitates a close scrutiny of the nutritional as well as the physiological needs of both the mother and the child during the varying stages of pregnancy and lactation.

Breastfeeding Nutrition Tips for New Moms:-

  1. Consume soups, juices and a minimum of 8 glasses of water daily as they are high in fluids and will facilitate milk production and compensate the loss of fluids from the body.
  2. Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables which are a good source of vitamins, minerals and fibre which your body needs during this phase.
  3. Add high quality protein in your diet like meat, fish and eggs.
  4. Avoid fried and sweet foods as they are low in nutrients and don’t increase milk secretion.
  5. Consume 3 servings of milk and dairy products daily which are good source of protein, calcium and phosphorous.
  6. Eat nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc) in moderation; these are known to be beneficial for women who are breastfeeding as they are full of nutrients but also high in oils and calories.
  7. Avoid foods that might cause discomfort for your baby like cauliflower, broccoli, legumes and spicy foods
  8. Avoid smoking and alcohol for their negative effect on milk production.
  9. Perform light physical activity after your doctor’s approval.

During pregnancy, the body undergoes a massive quantum of hormonal changes. The estrogen secretion not only increases but also becomes more complicated. Consequently, the pituitary glands of the mother also perform certain specialized functions that promote the growth and maintenance of the mammary glands. Other significant bodily changes during pregnancy is the increase in the total blood volume in the body and the drop in the plasma protein content. Complimenting such complex variations, nutritional requirements also manifest a sharp change. Most nutrients including vitamins, proteins and energy giving supplements are needed in greater volume to support the development of the fetus as well as enhance the immunity of the mother.

The process of lactation occurs under the heavy influence of neuroendocrine mechanisms. Increased levels of prolactin is the most pivotal determinant of the onset of milk secretion. Therefore, a fair section of the nutritional intake of the mother is directed towards promoting the development of the breasts. The mother’s milk is known to be the chief source of nutrition for the newborn. Thus, the nutritional requirement during lactation is way more than that during pregnancy.