Nutrition for Breastfeeding Moms


By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi



The breast milk contains all the nutrients the baby needs to survive. Nutrition of a lactating woman is essential because the infant gets all the nutrients from the mother not putting her into consideration. The body takes from its reserve to satisfy the needs of this little creature though the quantity and quality of the milk may be affected still.
An additional 400-500 calories is needed per day to keep up with breastfeeding. Nutrient-rich choices are the best supplies for the extra calories. Variety of foods taken while breastfeeding helps the baby cope easily when introduced to new meals. Foods rich in iron, protein and calcium are best recommended. However, certain foods are believed to increase the supply of breast milk, speed up recovery from labour and childbirths, relieve digestive discomfort and prevent constipation. Water, the best form of fluid is highly recommended.
 Various cultures and tribes in Nigeria make use of various herbs and foods to accomplish this task. The herbs carry out various post partum functions which include improving lactation, healing tears, supply trace elements, breakdown baby fat etc. A hot massage is given to the new mom daily which is aimed at relieving her body. She is also fed with food containing some herbs such as:
African Negro Pepper (also known as Uda by Igbos, eeru Alamo by the Yorubas and Chimba by the Hausas): It has a sharp pungent taste with a bitter aftertaste and is effective in the cure of headache, infections and stomachache. It is carminative in action: cleansing the bowels and may help relief colic in infants. It helps increase gastric emptying thereby, combating flatulence. It can also serve as a natural contraceptive. The seeds have high content of zinc.
 
Piper guineense (also known as uziza by the Igbos and iyere by the Yorubas):  It imparts a spicy pungent aroma to soups. The leaves and seeds are used in preparing soups for lactating women where it acts as a medicinal spice. It is claimed to help in the contraction of the uterus.


Pergularia Daemia (also known as utazi by the Igbos and teji by the Yorubas): It is known for the bitter taste it imparts in soups. The leaves are used by lactating mothers to control weight.



Other herbs used for lactating mothers include ginger, garlic, Calabash nutmeg, scent leaves etc.
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