Better Nutrition For Nursing Mothers

Mothers who want to be successful at breastfeeding need to eat a well-balanced diet filled with healthful foods and must also drink lots of liquids. But a new study says that most mothers aren't doing anything of the sort.

A University of Granada study found that 94% of new mothers who are breastfeeding their infants, aren't taking care to eat right. They're not getting the recommended daily requirements for iron, fat, or vitamins A and E. On the other hand, they're eating much too much protein.

Extra Energy

While an off day or two can happen to anyone, the importance of eating enough calories on a regular basis cannot be underestimated when discussing the nutritional needs of a nursing mother. Because a nursing mom needs extra energy to make milk, the minimum daily number of calories suggested for lactating women comes to 2,000 calories.

There should be a good balance of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, but there should also be generous amounts of vegetables and fruit. A nursing mother also needs to drink extra fluids and a mother should use this opportunity to pack in more nutrients with milk or juice, rather than drinking cola or coffee. Try to drink a glass of something every time you feed your baby. That should be just the right amount of liquid for a nursing mother.

Following these rules won't just benefit your baby, but will also benefit you. A study published by Kaiser Permanente in 2009 found that the longer a mother breastfeeds her child, the more benefits to her health are accrued. Breastfeeding past nine months reduces a mother's risk for metabolic syndrome (several risk factors for heart disease occurring as a cluster) by almost 86% in those women who suffer from gestational diabetes. In women who don't have gestational diabetes, the risk for this syndrome is cut by 56%.

Early Breast Cancer

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services finds that women who breastfeed their babies probably lower their risk for developing breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, ovarian cancer, postpartum depression, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Not yet convinced you want to nurse? In August of 2009, researchers reported that women who have a mother, sister, or other type of close relative who suffered from breast cancer cut their risk for developing the disease by 59% if they breastfeed their babies. In any event, women who breastfeed cut their overall risk for early breast cancer (before menopause) in half.

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