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Nutritional Needs of New Mothers by Dr.Irfan Suleheria

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Nutritional Needs of New Mothers Dr.Irfan Suleheria

After delivery, it is natural for new mothers to shed off the weight gained during pregnancy as soon as possible, as their body transitions into the new phase. However, many women get over-eager to drop the weight gained during pregnancy right after birth. 

New mothers should be patient and not hasten this body into losing weight. They should not go on a diet or take any weight-loss medications immediately after pregnancy, especially if they are breastfeeding. 

Drastic weight loss measures post-delivery can be extremely harmful and can deter the process of healing that the body is undergoing. Moreover, mother’s diet, or lack thereof, directly impacts the baby being nursed. Hence, babies get deprived of the vital nutrients as well.Hence, weight loss after giving birth should be gradual as to not compromise on the nutritional needs of the mothers. 

On average, a new mother will lose about 6.5 kg within the first week after giving birth. Breastfeeding mothers can expect to lose weight as long as they keep a nutritionally balanced diet. 

It is important to know that losing more than 0.5 kg per week can decrease breastmilk production and put both the mother and baby at risk. Hence, the best way to return to pre-pregnancy weight is through regular exercise, such as walking the baby in a stroller once a day.

However, if the new mothers choose to bottle feed their baby, the weight loss may be slightly more rapid. Hence, for such mothers, there is no need to forgo the good diet as the body will itself lose the extra weight. 

Moreover, as pregnancy takes a toll on the body, the first few weeks after delivering the baby are important for it to heal. Hence, it is vital for the mothers to maintain their rich pregnancy diet for around 3-4 weeks after giving birth, so that the body has enough nutrients and time to heal properly. Remember, nutritional needs of mothers are before and after pregnancy are just as vital to be fulfilled. 

New mothers need to have a diet rich in vitamins and mineral to give the healing process a boost. Foods like almonds are a great source of good nutrients can be easily be snacked on. It is hard for them to make time to look after the infant and cook, hence, they should explore such easy to snack on foods as well. 

Furthermore, gradually, as their body get properly healed, they can go back to their pre-pregnancy diet. They can supplement it with exercise to get better results, but please get an approval of the doctor prior to jumping on the yoga mat. 

Requirements for breastfeeding:

It is always best for them to obtain proper nutrition from a well-balanced and varied diet and to make sure that you are drinking 2-3 litres of water per day in order to maintain proper milk production. While they are breast feeding, they still have a need for increased calories and essentially all nutrients, especially protein, calcium, vitamin A, and Vitamin C. So, their diet while breastfeeding will remain the same as when they were pregnant.  

The following chart gives a detailed idea about the nutritional needs of mothers. Abiding by these dietary guidelines is extremely important to the mother and the baby. 

Nutrient Non-Pregnant Pregnant
Protein 46g 71g
Vitamin A 0.07mg 0.77mg
Vitamin C 75mg 85mg
Thiamine *B1) / Riboflavin (B2) 1.1mg 1.4mg
Niacin (B3) 14mg 18mg
Vitamin B6 1.3mg 1.9mg
Vitamin B12 0.0024mg 0.0026mg
Calcium 1,00-1,300mg 1,000-1,300mg
Folate 0.4mg 0.6mg
Magnesium 320mg 360mg
Iron 18mg 27mg
Iodine 0.15mg 0.22mg
Selenium 0.055mg 0.06mg
Zinc 8mg 11mg

The period after birth is a very stressful period for the mother. With irregular sleep patterns and the nutritional cost of birthing a baby, keeping the immune system strong is important for new mothers. 

Taking the above guidelines in consideration, it is important that they avoid skipping any meals due to a lack of time or the desire to lose weight. They need to make sure that they are eating three healthy meals every day. The better care the mothers take of themselves, the easier it will be for them to provide care for their newborn.

Benefits of Breastfeeding:

For the Mother:

  • Promotes optimal maternal-infant bonding.
  • Helps to mobilize fat stores to help the mother lose weight, especially in the lower body.
  • Stimulates uterine contractions to help control blood loss and regain pre-pregnant size.
  • Readily available and requires no mixing or dilution.
  • Cheaper than purchasing bottles, nipples, formula, and requires no sterilization.
  • May decrease risk of thromboembolism, especially after surgical deliveries.

For the Infant:

Benefits of breast milk according to doctors;

  • Breast milk is always better than formula. It is unique in its types of concentrations of macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat). Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), hormones, growth factors, host resistance factors, inducers, modulators of the immune system, and anti-inflammatory agents. It contains optimal amounts and forms of nutrients the infant can easily tolerate and digest, and it changes to match the needs of your growing infant.
  • Breast milk is a natural food that contains no artificial colourings, flavorings, preservatives or other additives.
  • Breast milk is sterile, at the proper temperature, and is readily available.
  • Breast milk promotes better tooth and jaw development than bottle-feeding because your child has to suck harder.
  • Breastfeeding is protective against food allergies.
  • Overfeeding is not likely with breastfeeding.
  • It is more easily digested by the baby than the formula milk. 
  • Breast fed babies have better immunity. 
  • The skin-to-skin touch incurred during feeding can help baby bond well with the mother. 
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

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