Feeding Our Families: The Working Mother’s Guide To Looking After Her Own Nutrition Needs

01 Mar 2020

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As a new mom who’s all set to reclaim her work desk and restart the “power mode”, you’ve probably spent countless hours thinking about you’re going to manage it all – “Is my baby going to be okay without me?”, “Should I wait for a few more months before I resume work?” and so on. The flood of these thoughts coupled with the daunting duty of effortlessly juggling responsibilities can often be overwhelming enough to push your own nutrition needs to the wayside. 

To make this a tad bit easier for you, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide of all the nutrients you need (plus, where you can get these from) so that fortifying your body to ace it in the corporate world will be ‘child’s play’ for you!

1. Proteins

Research [1] reveals that though the concentration of protein in breast milk isn’t influenced by the protein intake, adequate protein is still essential for new moms to conserve their skeletal muscle. Skeletal muscle is a major muscle type that helps the body to perform a variety of functions such as maintaining posture and stabilizing bones and joints. If you’re still lactating, make sure to include a recommended 1.3 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight in your diet every day. [2] 

Easily available sources of protein: [3] Eggs, seafood, dairy products, soy products legumes, whole grains, lentils, and nuts are rich sources of proteins.

2. Calcium

Calcium is an important nutrient for both mom and baby, alike. New moms need this nutrient the most and often tend to neglect it, thinking they’re perhaps already getting enough of it. Why you ask? [4] Studies show that lactating moms often lose three to five percent of their bone mass [5]. If your diet lacks calcium, then your body derives calcium from your bones, which could increase the chances of developing osteoporosis later on. Irrespective of whether you are still lactating or not, having calcium-rich foods in daily diet is an absolute must to avoid developing potential health issues to you and your baby.

Easily available sources of calcium: Milk, cheese, yogurt, dark green leafy vegetables, cereals, tofu and nuts.

3. Iron

Iron-rich foods should be an integral part of any new mom’s diet, especially if you are gearing to get back to the 9-to-5 world. On average, a lactating mother needs 9 mg of iron every day [6]. However, if you have been diagnosed with anemia or have suffered heavy blood loss during delivery, it is recommended to up this dosage by a notch! An iron-rich diet can help you beat fatigue, sharpen your focus and feel more energetic throughout the day [7]. 

Easily available sources of iron: Fortified grains, lean meat, seafood, nuts and seeds.

4. Choline

Choline is an essential nutrient that is associated with imparting better memory to adults [8]. It also plays a key role in making cell membranes and brain development in babies. Given its importance, lactating mothers need to ensure they include sufficient choline-rich foods in their diet.

Easily available sources of choline: [9] Milk, meat, eggs, nuts, legumes and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli).

5. Iodine 

Iodine is paramount for all women, however, the dietary requirement of iodine is higher in women who breastfeed as it supports the infant’s growth and neurological development [10]. Lower levels of iodine in breast milk may cause cognitive and psychomotor impairment (visible slowing of physical and emotional reactions) in babies. Using iodized salt in food preparation and eating foods that are good sources of iodine can help fulfill your daily requirement of this nutrient.

Easily available sources of iodine: Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, radishes, and broccoli. Use iodized salt in food preparation.

6. Vitamin A 

Vitamin A will help you get sharp vision, better skin, stronger immunity and better bone health! Need we say more? It is also important for maternal health as well as ocular health, immunity and normal growth and development of the baby [11]. If a lactating mother isn’t able to meet the daily requirement of vitamin A, then her body compensates for its low levels in breast milk from the liver. Vitamin A can be easily obtained from food sources. However, lactating women with a deficiency are prescribed vitamin A supplements to fulfill their daily requirement.

Easily available sources of Vitamin A: Carrots, pumpkin, papaya, whole milk, yogurt, cheese and fish oils.

Nobody said getting the ‘work mode’ on after a hiatus will be easy, but remember, backed by self-love and your baby’s selfless love, it sure will be worth it! You go girl!

References:

  1. http://depts.washington.edu/pwdlearn/firststeps/pdfs/mod5print.pdf
  2. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-much-protein-do-you-need-every-day-201506188096
  3. https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/nutrition-tips-for-breastfeeding-mothers
  4. https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-health/pregnancy
  5. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/breastfeeding-and-your-diet
  6. https://www.nm.org/healthbeat/healthy-tips/nutrition/breastfeeding-nutrition
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK379991/
  8. https://www.uncnri.org/index.php/choline-in-human-milk-plays-crucial-role-in-infant-memory/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6722688/
  10. https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-special-circumstances/diet-and-micronutrients/iodine.html
  11. https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/44623/9789241501774_eng.pdf;jsessionid=6FFFF97F681FC4DE88B5879D53D41423?sequence=1

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