“I think I have lost a lot of post-pregnancy weight through breastfeeding,” said a friend of mine who is also a mother of a 4-month-old.
We have been hearing since our childhood that benefits of breast milk for babies are numerous but when mothers breastfeed their babies, their own bodies benefit too.
Studies suggest that what is good for the baby is also good for the mother. Feeding infants with breast milk have been shown to improve baby health and even their IQ, they have a stronger immune system and are healthier in the longer term.
“Although much has been written about the benefits of breastfeeding in infants, what is also true is that it is beneficial for the mothers as well.
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Ranging from helping in losing post pregnancy kilos to averting the risk of breast cancer, nursing the infant is a win-win situation for both the mother and the baby,” says Dr Nandita Palshetkar .
Breastfeeding Benefits for Mothers
1. Reduces the Risk of Breast Cancer
Women who breastfeed their infants reduce their risk of developing breast cancer by as much as 25 per cent .
The reduction in cancer risk comes in proportion to the cumulative lifetime duration of breastfeeding. That is, the more months or years a mother breastfeeds, the lower her risk of breast cancer.
2. Reduces the Risk of Uterine and Ovarian Cancer
One of the reasons for the cancer-fighting effects of breastfeeding is that estrogen levels are lower during lactation.
It is thought that the less estrogen available to stimulate the lining of the uterus and perhaps breast tissue also, the less the risk of these tissues becoming cancerous .
3. Lessens Osteoporosis
Non-breastfeeding women have a four times greater chance of developing osteoporosis than breastfeeding women and are more likely to suffer from hip fractures in the post-menopausal years .
4. Benefits Child Spacing
Since breastfeeding delays ovulation, the longer a mother breastfeeds the more she is able to practice natural child spacing, if she desires .
5. Promotes Emotional Health
Not only does breastfeeding benefit a mother’s body, it also benefits her mind. Studies show that breastfeeding mothers show less postpartum anxiety and depression than formula-feeding mothers do .
6. Promotes Postpartum Weight Loss
Breastfeeding mothers showed significantly larger reductions in hip circumference and more fat loss by one month postpartum when compared with formula-feeding moms.
Breastfeeding mothers tend to have an earlier return to their pre-pregnant weight .
7. Cost Effective
Not only is breastfeeding beneficial for health but also cost effective as it does not incur any costs unlike formula milk .
Nursing the baby naturally is also environment-friendly as it does not involve any plastic bottles or formula cans.
As welcome as all of these benefits are, though, most mothers put the feeling of maternal fulfilment at the top of their list of reasons for breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding provides a unique physical and emotional experience for the nursing mother and the baby and it is one parenting behaviour that is here to stay for a lifetime !!
Foods to increase breast milk quality & flow
Oats are rich in calcium and fibre and thus helps in increasing the milk supply. It also prevents the occurrence of diabetes during post pregnancy .
You can have a bowl full of oatmeal for breakfast or can also go for oat cookies.
Salmon is rich in omega-3 and essential fatty acids required by the body as they are highly nutritious and vital for breastfeeding mothers .
It helps boost lactation hormones by making the milk more nutritious and healthy. It simply improves the mother’s health so that she can produce the hormones necessary for milk production You can go for the boiled, steamed or the grilled one for your meal.
3. Spinach and Beet Leaves
These contain a high amount of calcium, iron, vitamin K, vitamin A and folic acid. Iron is required by the anaemic mothers .
It also helps to make the baby stronger. It contains some plant chemicals which prevent breast cancer. You can take the leaves and make soup or can make a paratha for a meal.
Carrots are rich in beta-carotene and vitamin A which are needed by the lactating mothers . Like spinach, it does help a lot for increasing lactation.
It provides with energy and improves the quality and supply of milk. Having a glass of carrot juice with lunch or breakfast will work as an amazing food for lactating mother.
5. Fennel Seeds (Saunf)
Fennel is a rich source of vitamin C, and one of the foods to increase breast milk quickly. Apart from this, it also aids in digestion and settles an upset belly .
6. Fenugreek Seeds (Methi)
Fenugreek is a great source of iron, protein and vitamin C. It enhances the milk’s quality and also increases the milk supply within a few days of consuming the fenugreek herb .
Garlic is considered as the most popular food to boost lactation in nursing mothers. It has been known since ages for its various medicinal and lactogenic properties.
Consuming garlic prevents all types of cancer. When mothers take a garlic supplement before nursing; babies take more milk and that too more frequently.
You can add it in the vegetable of your choice or you can sauté a handful of garlic cloves in ghee and complement it with steamed rice .
The food not only boosts lactation but also keeps the person hydrated . You can go for homemade barley solution by boiling barley in some water and have the solution throughout the day or toss in the barley with other vegetables.
9. Sesame Seeds
The food rich in calcium is very helpful to boost breast milk supply. Both the black and white sesame seeds are beneficial .
A great source of iron and calcium is good for breast milk . It helps boosts immunity levels and enhances the nervous system of the baby as well as the mother. Have it steamed with some flavours or use it with vegetable fillings.
These are some of the superfoods to increase breast milk naturally. You can include them in your daily diet with a healthy and proper routine and see the changes in your milk supply.
A balanced and nutritious diet can provide the baby with a variety of nutrients. Mother’s diet affects the quantity and quality of milk, so it is advisable to take a balanced and nutritious diet, rich in calcium, protein, vitamins and minerals. Including a lot of fluids is also very important while breastfeeding. Here are some recipes to enhance lactation.
4 Super Easy Recipes Excellent for Breastfeeding
1. Fenugreek Tea
Soak a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds in a cup of water overnight. The next morning boil that water until it reduces a little, strain and drinks the fenugreek tea/decoction warm.
2. Sesame Seeds Laddu
Grind sesame seeds coarsely and add powdered jaggery to it. Dry grind both together until well combined. Transfer it to a plate, add coarsely ground peanuts and mix everything well. Make balls and store it in an airtight container. You do not have to add ghee as the oil content in the sesame seeds helps to bind the laddus well.
3. Barley Water
Wash and soak 1/4 cup of barley overnight and pressure cook with 2 cups of water. Filter it and drink the water when it is warm throughout the day. If it is thick, you can add more water.
4. Dry Fruits and Nut Laddoo
Heat a tablespoon of ghee and roast all the nuts (as required) i.e almonds, cashew nuts, pistachio and walnuts on a medium heat.
Allow it to cool and powder it slightly coarse. Heat a teaspoon of ghee and saute some raisins until they are puffed up. Heat 2 tsp of ghee and saute the dates (Buy dates which are soft and remove the seeds from them and grind it coarsely ).
Add honey, mix well and saute until the dates become soft. Now mix all of them together and grease your hands with ghee and make small balls when the mixture is warm. Roll the balls in roasted sesame seeds or grated coconut and enjoy.
So here was all about breastfeeding, its innumerable benefits for your baby and yourself. For more on health, nutrition and well being, talk to our Possible Nutritionist today. The first consultation is on us. Click here.