A mother at Masaka regional referral hospital being helped to breast feed her newborn twins. (Photos by Agnes Kyotalengerire)
Agnes Kyotalengerire
Journalist @New Vision

HEALTH | MASAKA | BREASTFEEDING

August is dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of breastfeeding. This month’s theme is “Step up for breastfeeding, empower and educate communities."

In today's article, breastfeeding experts share tips on how the new months can boost breast milk production.

Flavia Okia, 30, is a new mother who is struggling to sustain breastmilk supply for her three-week-old baby.

Recently, Okia told her peer mothers how she was about to give up breastfeeding and resort to formula.

“My breasts have been empty right from the first day I delivered, which means, my baby is starving. I think I am better off giving her the formula to save her life,” she notes.

Dr. Margret Nakaketo, a senior consultant pediatrician, notes that Okia should not give up breastfeeding her newborn. Instead, she should have a balanced diet as it determines the quality of breast milk.

An Assortment Of Vegetables

An Assortment Of Vegetables

 A balanced diet is also good for the nourishment of the mother. “If the mother is malnourished, it will affect the quality of the breast milk, hence affecting the baby’s health status, especially the immune response,” she warns. 

Dr. Nakaketo further explains that a balanced diet should include all food groups, for example, carbohydrates, vitamins, proteins, iron, and minerals with plenty of fruits and vegetables to enable the mother to produce adequate and quality breast milk. 

Breastfeeding requires immediate energy to support the production of milk. So increasing the number of meals by two or eating healthy snacks in between meals will help cater to the energy needed, Dr. Nakaketo advises. 

In addition, if you are a breastfeeding mother, you need to add high biological value proteins from poultry, fish, and eggs.

Fruit Salad

Fruit Salad

When choosing meat, it is advisable to go for the white one as it is packed with Omega 3 which is a great contributor to the brain development of the baby. 

Alternatively, vegetarian breastfeeding mothers can opt for plant-based proteins, which can be gotten from legumes like beans, peas, and groundnuts.

In addition, breastfeeding mothers are encouraged to take the milk and other dairy products daily.

Milk is a good source of calcium and phosphate salts which the baby gets through breast milk.

Calcium is important for the development of healthy bones and a good source of vitamins B2 and B12.

If a mother cannot drink milk, she can get calcium from other sources, like calcium-enriched soya milk.

However, the challenging bit is that some mothers cannot afford a balanced diet, especially those in urban areas where everything is commercialized, Dr. Nakaketo notes.  

Adequate fluid intake 

Fluid is known as a raw material for breast milk production. 85% of breast milk's composition is water.

Adequate fluid intake helps to produce enough breast milk but also keeps the mother’s body hydrated.

“A mother should be adequately hydrated for her normal body processes while part of it is channeled to milk production,” she notes.

The good news is that fluid goes beyond porridge. So you can include water, milk tea, fruit juice, and even soup in your list of fluids to consume, notes Dr. Naziwa.

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