After giving birth, many mothers suffer with lots of responsibilities looking after the new-born baby and end up forgetting about their own health.
However, experts say this is not healthy as mothers need as much care for themselves as they ought to provide to their babies.
Medics advise that taking a diet full of breastfeeding-geared nutrients is important as both the mother and baby will get exactly what they need.
According to Private Kamanzi, a nutritionist at Amazon Nutrition Cabinet in Remera, Kigali, breastfeeding mothers need as much nutrients as they can so as to rebuild their body as well as boost their babies’ growth.
“Whatever they eat must be geared to have a positive effect towards nurturing their babies. Therefore, a mother must pay critical attention to her diet as this will benefit both her and the baby. Otherwise, poor diet could in turn affect her wellbeing and that of the baby,” he says.
Kamanzi adds that mothers who are breastfeeding should eat a variety of foods and ensure that they are satisfied so as to have enough energy and nutrients for the baby.
“After birth, women lose a lot of blood and water. In this case, some might even get dizziness most of the time while breastfeeding. That is why we advise lactating mothers to take foods rich in iron, and also encourage them to drink a lot of water and juice,” he explains.
To increase the quantity and quality of breastmilk, mothers are advised to drink porridge, especially from a mixture of different cereals such as millet, sorghum, soya, maize and amaranth.
VenusteMuhamyankaka, the president of Rwanda Nutritionists Society, says in order to regain enough blood or iron in the mother’s body, vegetables including spinach, dodo, sombe and broccoli should be eaten.
He stresses that foods rich in vitamins are always recommendable. These foods, he says, include whole cereals, wheat products, meat especially beef and organ meat like liver.
Muhamyankaka explains that due to the ongoing growth of the baby, foods rich in folic acid are also ideal. These, he adds, help in the growth of the neuro-tube system as well as the baby’s brain development.
He recommends foods like avocado, fish, groundnuts and sunflower flour which could be cooked as a sauce or even mixed with other cereals so as to make porridge.
“Foods rich in vitamin A also help in the growth performance as well as build the virtual capacity of the baby,” adds Eric Musengimana, a nutritionist at Diet Therapy Company in Remera, Kigali.
Musengimana says that carrots, pumpkins and butternut squash are some of the foods rich in vitamin A and these help in the growth of the immune system (body defensive mechanism) of both the baby and mother.
The nutritionist also recommends fruits such as oranges, saying these are rich in vitamin C which plays a crucial role in the development of healthy bones, teeth and muscles in the new-born baby.
He also says that vitamin C helps in boosting tissue growth and repair in breastfeeding mothers.
“Other fruits such as pineapples, avocado, bananas and strawberries are also rich in vitamin C, and mothers should try as much as possible to take them,” says Musengimana.