Nutrition during Lactation

Lactation is a production and secretion of breastmilk for the purpose of nourishing the infant. Prolactin (pro-promote, Lactin-milk) hormone releases for the production of milk by memory glands and oxytocin hormone for the ejection of milk.

Prolactin is a hormone secreted from the posterior pituitary glands that act on memory glands to initiate and sustain milk production.

Nutrition in lactation


Energy requirement during lactation is

  • 1st 6 months of lactation                                     +330 kcal/day
  • 2nd 6 months of lactation                                 +440 kcal/day
  • 250 kcal should be from diet
  • 150 kcal should be given from adipose tissue stores. Lactating women average calories intake is 2500-3300 kcal/day

Exercise impact on lactation

  • Increase lactic acid production
  • Alter flavor of milk

Vitamins and minerals

  • If mothers do not take enough milk and milk products, infant will take calories or other minerals and vitamins from body reserves of mother. Vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 and water deficiency can be seen during lactation. Water prevents cardiovascular disease.
  • Water intake during lactation is 3.8 L/day. 20 % comes from foods.

Nutrient supplements

Iron supplements may be needed due to iron loss during child birth and iron depletion. 600 mg calcium supplements may also be provided.

Particular foods

  • Restrict strong spicy foods
  • Restrict strong flavored foods
  • Sometimes cow’s milk protein is irritating for child so that mothers have to avoid cow’s milk.

Practices to avoid

  • Alcohol intake
  • Alter flavor of the milk
    • Infants metabolize alcohol inefficiently even low doses may be enough to suppress their feeding and cause sleepiness.
    • Interfered with lactation by inhibiting the hormone, oxytocin.
    • Smoking
    • Reduce milk volume
    • Breastmilk contain nicotine that alter flavor of the milk
    • Low birth weight infants
    • Medical drugs
    • Environmental contaminants
    • Mercury, dioxin and DDTs in fertilizers especially in Antarctic area.
    • Caffeine (2 cups allowed, more than 2 cups is not safe for the infant and child feel sleepy)

    Benefits of breastfeeding

    • Cost effective
    • Hygienic
    • All time available

    Benefits for mother

    • Contracts the uterus
    • Delays the return of regular ovulation thus lengthening birth intervals
    • Conserves iron stores by prolonging amenorrhea (delayed menses)
    • Main protection against breast cancer.

    Mother health

    • HIV requires body fluids to transfer. If a mother has HIV then she cannot feed their babies.
    • Tuberculosis (mother milk can be given to infants by pumping but infants should take apart from mothers)
    • Diabetes type 2 (hypoglycemic because of high requirements of energy)
    • Oral contraceptive has estrogen which reduce milk production and protein content of mother milk.

    Breast health

    • Diet
    • Exercise
    • Support
    • Awareness of mothers
    • Health care professionals
    • Father’s role
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