3.3  Nutrition during lactation (breastfeeding)

If all babies are to be healthy and grow well, they must be fed breastmilk. When a baby sucks at the nipple, this causes the milk to come into the breast and continue to flow. Breastmilk is food produced by the mother’s body especially for the baby, and it contains all the nutrients (nourishment) a healthy baby needs.

A lactating woman needs at least two extra meals (550 Kcal) of whatever is available at home. In addition a dose of vitamin A (200,000IU) should be given once between delivery and six weeks after delivery. This will enable the baby to get an adequate supply of vitamin A for the first six months. During the first six months the best way of feeding the baby is for the mother to breastfeed exclusively. You will learn more about this in Study Session 4 of this Module. Box 3.3 shows the nutrients required during lactation.

Box 3.3  Increased nutrients required during lactation

Increased requirements: vitamins A, C, E, all B vitamins, and sodium (applies only to individuals under age 18).

In addition to extra meals and one high dose of vitamin A, a breastfeeding woman also needs:

  • Iodised salt in her diet
  • At least one litre of water per day
  • Vitamin A rich foods (such as papaya, mango, tomato, carrot and green leafy vegetables) and animal foods (such as fish and liver).

You have learnt what pregnant and lactating women require to be healthy and well for themselves and their babies. Now you are going to look at the nutritional requirements of infants, children and adolescents.

3.2.4  Pregnant women with special needs

3.4  Nutritional requirements in infancy, childhood and adolescence