Breastfeeding provides a host of benefits for both mother and baby. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, breast milk provides babies with all the nutrients and antibodies they need, which can help fight off some common infant illnesses. Breastfeeding can lower a woman's risk of developing type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, ovarian cancer and postpartum depression. Consuming nutrient-rich foods like fruits may further improve the quality and production of breast milk.
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In comparison to mothers who do not breastfeed, breastfeeding mothers have a slightly increased demand for most nutrients, especially because many of the vitamins and minerals consumed by the mother are passed to her child through breast milk. Vitamins and minerals that are of particular concern for nursing mothers include folate, protein, iodine, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin B6. According to Medline Plus, nursing mothers should consume 2 to 4 servings of fruit daily. Two of these fruit servings should be high in vitamin C and folic acid, and one in vitamin A.
Galactogogues are foods, herbs or drugs that help increase your milk supply. According to an article in a 2008 issue of the “Journal of Human Lactation,” calcium-rich foods and fruits, such as figs, apricots and dates, may help increase your milk production. Suggested servings to help meet your daily serving requirements for fruit might include 1/2 cup of dried dates or 1 cup of fresh apricot slices. The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine advises that you speak with your doctor or lactation specialist and receive evaluation before beginning a diet based on galactogogues.
According to Mobi Motherhood, a common fruit that is used by Asian mothers who breastfeed is green papaya, or the papaya premature to its ripened stage. Green papaya contains enzymes, vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B, C and E. Mobi Motherhood further suggests simmering the papaya before eating in order to soften the meat of the fruit.
Nutrients for Mothers
Nursing mothers should strive for a balanced diet of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, as well as a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in order to get the necessary nutrients both she and baby need. According to a meal plan for nursing mothers designed by Medifast, rich sources of nutrients that nursing mothers need include cantaloupe, honeydew melon, mangoes, oranges, apricots, grapefruit, peaches, berries, bananas, apples, pears, kiwi and guava. Be aware of your baby's reaction to citrus fruits, as these types of fruits may cause your baby to have an upset stomach.
Medline Plus warns that highly allergenic food sources, like strawberries and peanuts, may be passed into breask milk, which can increase your baby's chance to develop an allergy to the food later in life. If you have questions or concerns about food allergies, speak with your doctor or the child's pediatrician. Also speak with your doctor or a lactation consultant if you have concerns about milk supply or lactation.