Many think that a vegetarian breastfeeding mother will surely lack of nutrition for herself and her baby. In fact, the nutritional needs of mothers who are vegetarians can, really, be filled with the right food choices. Come, see the food choices for nursing mothers following vegetarian.
A vegetarian is someone who avoids eating all kinds of meat and animal products, so most of his nutritional intake is limited to plants. Even so, there are some groups of vegetarians who still eat eggs or milk products.
So that the baby grows healthy and strong, nursing mothers are encouraged to eat a variety of nutritious foods. Adequate nutritional intake is also important for the mother’s energy source during breastfeeding and to help the recovery of the mother’s body after giving birth.
This Nutrition Must Be Fulfilled by Breastfeeding Mothers Every Day
Because of limited food choices, vegetarians usually lack the intake of some nutrients, such as protein and vitamin B12, which are generally mostly obtained from animals. However, the need for these nutrients must still be met, especially in nursing mothers.
Fortunately, today there have been many studies that reveal the nutritional content of food, including those from plants. In fact, many plant-based foods can be an option to meet daily nutritional intake, you know.
However, breastfeeding mothers should pay more attention to whether the intake of nutrients from the food they eat is sufficient for their needs. If you are a vegetarian who is breastfeeding, here are the kinds of nutrients you must meet every day:
Protein is needed by nursing mothers and babies to build and repair tissues in the body, produce enzymes and hormones, help the growth of healthy hair and nails, help the process of bone and muscle formation, and support the growth and development of infants.
Actually the level of protein derived from plants tends to be lower than the protein derived from animals. If you are a vegetarian who can still consume some animal-derived products, you can get protein by eating eggs or yogurt.
However, if you have no meat, eggs, or milk at all, you can get protein from nuts and seeds, such as soybeans, edamame, almonds, quinoa, and oatmeal. Tofu and tempeh derived from soybeans can also be processed as a high-protein menu every day, you know.
2. Iron and zinc
Iron is needed by the body to make hemoglobin, which is the part of red blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs throughout the body. Without adequate iron intake, both breastfeeding mothers and infants may experience iron deficiency anemia.
In addition to iron, zinc is also needed to maintain endurance. Zinc also plays a role in the process of tissue growth, wound healing, breakdown of carbohydrates into energy, and absorption of blood sugar into body cells.
To get iron and zinc, you can eat nuts, for example soybeans or cashews; seeds such as pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds or oatmeal; and vegetables like spinach, potatoes, or mushrooms.
Iodine is needed by the thyroid gland to make thyroid hormones. This hormone plays a role in controlling the body’s metabolic rate, and plays an important role in helping brain growth and development. You can get iodine through consumption of eggs, seaweed, iodized salt, and iodine fortified cereals.
Calcium is usually found in milk or yogurt. These nutrients play a role in bone formation and maintaining bone health, as well as helping to maintain the heart, muscles, and nerves to keep functioning properly.
If you don’t drink cow’s milk, you can replace it with calcium fortified soy milk. In addition, you can also get calcium from other vegetable sources, such as broccoli, cabbage, raisins, dried apricots, or calcium fortified bread.
5. Vitamin D
The presence of vitamin D is needed by the body to maximize calcium absorption. The body produces vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight. However, this alone is sometimes not enough to meet daily vitamin D needs.
Vegetable sources that are rich in vitamin D are few, but quite a lot of plant-based products, such as soy milk, almond milk, and orange juice, fortified with vitamin D. This can be an option to meet the needs of vitamin D in vegetarians.
If you doubt you can meet your intake of vitamin D from food, you can also take vitamin D supplements. However, make sure the supplement is made specifically for vegetarians, yes.
6. Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA and EPA are very important for the growth and development of the baby’s brain. Omega-3 fatty acid levels can be reduced from breast milk if you do not meet this nutritional intake.
The highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids are usually found in fish. However, don’t worry. You can meet the needs of omega-3 fatty acids by eating walnuts and chia seeds, and utilizing vegetable oils, such as olive oil and canola oil.
7. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 cannot be made by the body, so you must get this vitamin from food. This vitamin is very important for pregnant and lactating women, you know. This is because vitamin B12 plays a role in maintaining nerve health, supporting the production of red blood cells, and maintaining brain health.
Unfortunately, this vitamin is more contained in animal products, such as chicken liver, beef liver, shellfish, fish, and meat. But calm, you can get this vitamin from shitake mushrooms or fortified cereal vitamin B12. If you still consume eggs or milk, you can get this vitamin from yogurt, cheese and eggs.
The nutrients above are very important to always be in your daily menu. This is because babies under 6 months rely on nutrients that come from breast milk or formula milk only. If you do not pay attention to what you eat, it is not impossible your baby and also you are experiencing malnutrition, you know.
Being a vegetarian can provide many health benefits. However, do not forget to prioritize the nutritional needs for yourself and your baby, yes. You need to be more careful in choosing daily food.
If you are worried about not being able to meet your daily nutrition during breastfeeding, you should consult your doctor to get information regarding the right food choices for vegetarian nursing mothers.