Monthly Parenting Magazine

Nutritional Practitioner Henrietta Norton shares h...

Nutritional Practitioner Henrietta Norton shares her breastfeeding tips


Henrietta Norton, nutritional practitioner, shares her breastfeeding tips ahead of World Breastfeeding Week this August

Breastfeeding is encouraged by midwives and health visitors to sustain your baby’s development and support your baby’s future health. Some of these benefits include reducing your baby’s risk of developing conditions such as eczema if you breastfeed exclusively for the first three months. It may also reduce the risk of your baby experiencing obesity or diabetes in later life. Breastfeeding also has benefits for you. It has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, osteoporosis and postnatal depression as well supporting the contraction of the uterus and healthy weight loss after pregnancy.

If you are breastfeeding your baby, here are some things you can do get the most out of your milk.

Boosting breast milk production

Making breast milk is an energy-hungry process for your body and for this it needs the support of a healthy diet. During breastfeeding you will need to consume an extra 500 calories (150 calories more than you needed in your third trimester) per day for the first six months.

Eating a diet to support your blood sugar will support this milk production as well as your energy. When blood sugar drops too low from not following a balanced diet low in refined sugars or carbohydrates, not eating enough or leaving long gaps in between meals, eating will trigger stress hormones. This in turn reduces the production of hormones that initiate milk supply and the ‘let-down’ reflex when your baby is brought to the breast. Eat little and often, preferably three main meals and two snacks per day. Eating a wholesome breakfast will replenish your reduced stores of glucose from feeding at night. You will also need to make sure that you are drinking enough water, around 6–8 glasses a day and this can include herbal teas, such as peppermint or fennel. It is thought that the diet you eat during breastfeeding is the first stage of weaning for your baby.

What about supplements?

The diet for healthy breastfeeding remains the same as that during pregnancy, but requires 500 more calories per day than your pre-pregnancy levels. If you have been eating a nourishing diet throughout your pregnancy your breast milk will be nutrient-rich. The Department of Health recommends specific nutrients that are required in higher amounts during breastfeeding.

A supplement designed to support breastfeeding can improve your intake of important nutrients and recovery from birth, especially if you are vegan or vegetarian. With our Breast-Feeding Complex I wanted to look beyond the standard formulas that simply address poor milk production through fennel or fenugreek and address the wider issue. In order to support our babies, we as the mother require energy and enough of the right hormones in order to improve milk quality, and where necessary, milk quantity too. Breast-Feeding Complex is a unique complex of Food-Grown® nutrients and botanicals to support milk quality supply, the nervous system and the energy requirements of the breastfeeding mama, nourishing the skin, hair and nails. Stinging nettle (or Urtica Dioica) and fenugreek have been used for centuries as galactagogue herbs (breast milk enhancers) to improve milk supply and quality for lactating women. Their natural supply of iron and other minerals means that they are also used as a nutritiously rich plant to nourish the new mother after birth. Alongside these herbs the formula also provides lutein, the primary carotenoid found within breastmilk to support the development of the brain and eyes during infancy. Supply in breastmilk is dependent on a mother’s intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding and recent research has shown that supplementation with lutein during breastfeeding can enhance supply to the breastfed baby.

Fatty acids and breastfeeding

Your baby will rely on your consumption of omega-3 fats in your diet for the fatty acids DHA and EPA. These fats remain as vital as they were in pregnancy for the healthy development of the brain and eyes. Follow the guidelines on fats in pregnancy by eating eggs, nuts, seeds and their oils, oily fish and eggs regularly. You may also benefit from taking an omega-3 supplement, especially if you do not like to eat fish.

Breastfeeding can be one of the most profoundly intimate and loving exchanges between you and your baby but what if you can’t breastfeed? Some women who have their hearts set on breastfeeding become distraught at being unable to nurse their baby, as it is commonly believed to help with the bonding process. Whatever method of feeding you use, there is nothing to stop you bonding with your child and skin-to-skin contact is often recommended for mothers of premature babies who are unable to feed at the breast. What is most important is the love and care you give to your baby while you are feeding.

However you are feeding your baby, take the time to listen and watch for your baby’s cues in the early weeks. In time you will start to do this subconsciously and it will soon become a rhythmic, symbiotic process for you both.

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