After delivery, the first six months, the infant is fed breast milk by the mother. The nutrient requirement of the baby initially is dependent on the mother’s milk. Consuming a healthy diet by a mother is important during the lactation period as the nutrients and energy consumed by the mother are important to produce milk. The different minerals present in human milk are required for the different body processes such as healing wounds, fighting bacteria, etc.
If the nutritional requirements of the mother or the child are not met through the consumption of food during the lactation period, it may impact both. Therefore, the food items’ choice and preparation should be made to fulfill the requirements.
Energy and Nutrient requirements during Lactation
The energy and nutritional requirements are high during the period of lactation and even pregnancy. In the first four to six months, the infant gains almost double of the weight through breastmilk.
The nutrient and energy requirements by the infant and the mother are as follows:
For the first six months, 500 kcal is required, and for the next six months, 400 kcal is required by a lactating mother. This requirement can be fulfilled by consuming a balanced diet that should contain high-energy food items. On average, 100 mL (milliliters) of human milk contains 70 kcal of energy for the child. During the initial six months after delivery, only 750 mL of milk is produced daily by the mother’s body. If any extra energy is required, then it can be fulfilled through the reserved fat stores of the body.
Protein is an important element in lactation: its requirement is increased during lactation, and the protein present in the body is also used for energy production. The high protein intake reduces the casein in the milk. The casein protein is an important component of the milk and provides calcium and phosphate to the baby.
The recommended dietary allowance of the nutrients for lactating women is as follows:
Carbohydrate- 160 gm per day
Protein- 1.05 gm per day
Vitamin A- 1300 mcg
Vitamin B- 630 mg (approximately, including different variants of vitamin B)
Vitamin C- 120 mg
Vitamin D- 600 International units
Vitamin E- 19 International units
Calcium- 1000 mg
Zinc- 12 mg
Magnesium- 310 mg
Iron- 10 mg