NSOA ArticleNutritional needs of women during lactation increased in response to breast milk production. Thus, “Nutrition during Lactation” was the main focus of the 9th episode of the NNC-DOH Nutrition School on the Air (NSOA) First 1,000 (F1K) Days radio magazine program on 23 February 2021.

NSOA F1K radio program co-anchor Ms. Rose Anne M. Cuyco, Nutrition Officer II of NNC-Region III, and special guest Ms. Margarita Santos-Natividad, Nutritionist-Dietitian IV of DOH Central Luzon Center for Health Development discussed the importance of nutrition during lactation to ensure that lactating mothers will keep themselves healthy and well-nourished as well as continue to provide nourishment and care to their young children through breastfeeding.

NO II Cuyco emphasized that during the first six months after delivery, the baby is fed only on breast milk, and that the baby depends on the mother’s nutrient requirements. Thus, lactating mothers are advised to eat a healthy and balanced diet during this period.

Ms. Natividad added that nutritional demands during lactation are high and can have a negative impact on both mother and baby if they are not met. The daily diet of a lactating mother will be adequate provided that food selection and preparation is appropriate.

Additional 500 calories per day is required for a lactating mother. The additional calories can be met by eating, for example, extra three (3) slices of fish per day or one cup of milk and peanut butter sandwich. Simply eating more of the usual balanced diet will enable lactating mother to meet higher energy demand while breastfeeding.

The additional protein requirements during lactation can be met by consuming protein rich foods such as one piece of egg or 25 grams of cheese or 175 grams of milk. Calcium is essential during lactation because it is required for milk production. An intake 500 ml of milk or milk products per day must be taken in addition to eating calcium rich foods, such as green leafy vegetables like malunggay and fish.

The additional food to be eaten during lactation is needed to replenish the energy that is lost through breastfeeding. Lactating mother should eat regularly to increase food intake and meet all nutritional needs by eating a variety of foods from the three food groups – the go, grow and glow foods.

Foods to be avoided were also emphasized, such as drinking caffeinated beverages and drinking alcoholic beverages. Smoking cigarette should be discontinued or stopped as a habit as this will harm both mother and baby’s health. It was recommended to drink water instead or to drink milk and fruit juices, as needed.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, some mothers have fear to breastfeed their baby for the main reason that they may transfer the virus to their children. The World Health Organization of the United Nations’ current guidance is that women with COVID-19 can breastfeed if they wish to do so, but should take the necessary precautions such as: 1) wearing a mask to cover their mouth and nose; 2) washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after touching the baby; and 3) disinfecting surfaces they have touched.

If a mother is having a really bad time to breastfeed her baby due to COVID-19, she should receive support for safely giving her baby breastmilk via other means, including expressing milk, or the use of donor human milk or wet nursing.

Additional tips that could help lactating mothers to increase breast milk production, are as follow: 1) breastfeed often at least 8-12 times per day and let the child decide when to stop; 2) pump or express breast milk between feedings; 3) breastfeed from both sides; and 3) proper positioning. It is also very helpful to add natural malunggay in a meal, because it is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and calcium that will help the mother to increase her breast milk production.

“Pangalagaan ang First 1000 Days ni baby Ito ang pundasyon ng Malusog Na Isipan, Malusog Na Katawan at Malusog na Mamamayan”


Rose Anne M. Cuyco
8 March 2020