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Monday, September 30, 2013

Do you need to eat healthy to produce quality breastmilk?

One top question that breastfeeding mothers always ask is what do they eat to successfully breastfeed.  I have previously written about the non-necessity for breastfeeding mothers to drink milk.  There are also foods e.g. galactagogues that moms can take to increase milk production and I posted about that here.

For moms with unhealthy diet e.g. loves carbonated drinks, chips, etc., the top question in their minds is whether they should just give their babies formula instead of breastmilk considering that what they eat gets into their breastmilk.  Short Answer:  Breastmilk from an unhealthy mom is still FAR MORE superior than formula milk which comes from cows.

Our bodies are a wonderful thing.  Whether you are rich or you are poor, whether you are from a developed country or from a developing country, the quality of your breastmilk will be the same and will always be superior over formula milk - whether it be organic, lactose-free, etc. etc.

Let me re-post what Velvet Escario-Roxas of Velvet Birth - Pinay Doula and Deputy Director of Arugaan shared about this matter:
Breastmilk will always be perfect -- no matter where you are, no matter what you do, no matter where you live, no matter what you eat. It will always be PERFECT. And formula milk no matter what they do will always be INFERIOR. Two polarities on the extreme. Perfect vs Inferior food. If malnourished moms can produce the perfect quality of breastmilk, so thus any well-nourished moms too. 
from Linkagesproject.org
However, what happens if a breastfeeding mother continues to have an unhealthy diet?  Again, the QUALITY of her breastmilk will not be affected.  But the QUANTITY of her breastmilk will be affected.  Kellymom shares about how excessive dieting can likewise affect milk supply.  Meanwhile, this handout on Breastfeeding and Maternal Nutrition from Linkages also emphasizes that malnourished mothers can still produce enough breastmilk to breastfeed successfully.

Velvet shares that even if mom has an unhealthy diet, resulting in poor milk supply, she can still continue to breastfeed by getting help:
On the 3rd month, her QUANTITY might dwindle that is why she needs help from co-mothers, the society and the government to alleviate herself. Even if the moms eat chippy, drink coke, drink coffee, instant noodles, drink tea, drink alcohol and any those garbage foods... Her milk would still be PERFECT. It is God's gift and humanity's greatest equalizer. 
However, because what is in the mom's diet still gets into the breastmilk, Velvet likewise emphasizes that "(a) few baby are hypersensitive, thus the moms needs to control her food intake and babies are usually sensitive to dairy products. That's why moms don't need to drink milk to produce milk."

In his Facebook post, Dr. Jack Newman shared about how there is no need to pump and dump after ingesting alcohol, further emphasizing the "filtering powers" of our breastmilk.

This article on Maternal Nutrition and Breastfeeding, as a recipe for success is also very informative and emphasizes that there is no such thing as a "perfect diet" for breastfeeding. Instead, the key to success is moderation and balance.
Many women fear they cannot breastfeed because they do not eat “well enough.” Others believe they have to adhere to complex dietary rules and restrictions. Health care providers can help dispel these myths and promote breastfeeding by reinforcing general principles of moderation and balance versus the “perfect diet.”
In improving my family's food choices, I share Velvet's sentiments about being careful about what I eat to ensure that Stan and I will be with our kids for a long time:
This is also a time that we need to think about our life's choices. We chose to be parents for a reason. One of these reasons is to raise healthy, well-nourished, intelligent children etc etc. Whether we are in denial or not, we are responsible for the beings that we are raising. If we eat and drink garbage, it would lessen our lifespan. Do you want your children to be orphaned at 5 years old because you made selfish choices? This is not a time when we should think about ourselves, but of our offsprings too. 
So what types of food should we choose?  In all the Arugaan talks that I have attended, both Nanay Ines and Velvet emphasize indigenous foods - listen to the song "Bahay Kubo" and the list of foods that we should be eating are there:
Read my post entitled "Wisdom from Arugaan" to view the slideshow of Arugaan on the nutritional content of our indigenous food.  Check this article also from Yahoo Philippines about the nutritional content of each of the vegetables identified in "Bahay Kubo."

Let me end this post with a quote from Velvet, about how our food choices likewise affect the eating habits of our children in the future.
We are our children's first role model, their first teacher, their first nutritionist, their first doctors... The choices we make on anything would affect us and our children's future. In short, if your child sees you eating chippy and coke most probably your child would be eating those too. If your child sees you eating fruits and vegetables, most probably your child would be eating those too. It's all about role modeling.
Are you happy with your current eating habits? Have your eating habits changed when you had kids?

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