From the fourth month of pregnancy (the second and third trimesters), a woman's body produces hormones that stimulate the growth of the milk duct system in the breasts. Human breast milk is the best source of nourishment for human infants, preventing disease, promoting health and reducing health care costs. Breast milk is made from the nutrients in the mother's bloodstream and bodily stores. Some studies estimate that a woman who breastfeeds her infant exclusively uses 400 - 600 extra calories a day in producing milk. During lactation period, the process of milk production is controlled by various hormones. Sucking by baby initiates hormonal changes that lead to milk production. The more often a baby nurses, the more milk will produce. Prolactin hormone from Anterior pituitary gland stimulates milk production & Oxytocin, hormone from Posterior pituitary gland, contracts the smooth muscles of the nipples to release the milk.
DIETARY GUIDELINES FOR LACTATION
1) Total calorie intake -For the first six months, the requirement of energy increases by 550 k cal/day & 400 kcal/day during the next six months & these requirements can be fulfilled by including whole grain cereals, pulses high calorie foods like ghee & oils.
2) Protein intake -During lactation period the requirement of protein also increases. Protein is required for hormonal production and milk production during lactation. The daily need of protein intake during first six months of lactation is extra 25 gm/day & extra 18 gm/day during 6-12 month of lactation. This extra gms of protein can be achieved by excess consumption of protein rich food like milk & MILD PRODUCTS, EGG, MEAT, FISH, PLOULTRY & NUTS.
3) Iron -There is no additional requirement of iron for lactactin mother. The baby is born with a reserve of iron since milk is not a good source of ironm. But the diet with iron rich food will helps for mothers own health.
4) Calcium- Calcium requirement is increased during lactation. As during pregnancy it is required for total skeleton development & during lactation it is necessary for milk production. The recommended additional 1000mg/day calcium , can be achieved by 500ml of mild or milk products taken in diet. Other calcium rich foods are leafy vegetable, soyabeans , ragi, fish pulses & legumes.
5) Fluid - An increased intake of fluid is necessary for adequate mild production. Water & beverages such as buttermilk, fruit juices, and milk can add to meal to produce milk.
6) Excessive caffeine should be avoided. You should drink no more than one cup of coffee a day. 7) Avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, and most fresh fish. They contain high levels of mercury, which may cause brain defects.
8) Wash all fruits and vegetables before preparing. This removes the pesticides and bacteria that may be present on them.
9) Excessive use of salt should be restricted in order to avoid high blood pressure.
10) Add atleast 30 minutes exercise per day. The lactating mothers can do exercise 5-6 weeks after the birth of baby, under proper observation. Avoid heavy/intense exercise which produces lactic acid in blood.