Why healthy eating is important in lactation?

  • The World Health Organisation and other health organisations recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of infant’s life. Eating a balanced diet with adequate nutrient intakes is important for lactating women to support their own health and the health of their babies.
  • The production and composition of human milk is influenced by women’s dietary intake and adipose nutrient stores. Women should follow a healthy diet to restore maternal nutrient reserves after childbirth and ensure they meet the additional energy needs associated with breastfeeding. This is particularly important among women who are undernourished.

Energy and nutrient requirements in lactation

  • Energy requirements are increasing by approximately 500 kcal per day in women who breastfeed exclusively.
  • Macro- and micronutrient requirements, particularly protein and most vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D, vitamin C and zinc, remain increased or increase further in lactation compared to pregnancy.
  • An adequate intake of vitamins A, D, K and water-soluble vitamins (vitamins C, B1, B6, B12, and folate) is also important as they are secreted into breast milk and their levels are reduced in breast milk when breastfeeding women have vitamin deficiency.