Does a mum’s diet affect colic in a baby? Image Credit: Unsplash

We compiled a list of six of the most commonly searched questions related to lactation and posed them to Aysha Abrar, UAE-based breastfeeding consultant. Here’s what she said:

1. What are some things a mum can eat to increase lactation?

There are many superfoods that aid lactation such as:

  • Moringa leaves
  • Fennel seeds boiled in water
  • Ghee, which increases the fatty content in the milk known as hindmilk that helps a baby poop
  • Fenugreek
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Chicken
  • Bone broth

There is no specific food that will solely help in milk supply as the increase in supply is predominantly determined by the emptying of breasts. The more the breasts are emptied the more milk a mum makes. These foods are to complement and manage to establish/stabilise the let down during the initial months of exclusive breastfeeding.

2. What negatively impacts a mum’s milk production?

  • A high level of stress,
  • Lack of quality sleep, and
  • Improper nutrition.

3. What helps dry up milk supply?

Any type of cold foods can reduce milk supply. Cabbage being cruciferous can dry down the milk.

Other vegetables that can affect milk production are:

  • Cauliflower,
  • Potato or
  • Eggplant.

However, this also depends on the body type of the mother. If eaten in excess or regularly before the milk supply gets established, the milk supply may dwindle.

When should you use cabbage leaves?
Cabbage leaves are used mostly when there is a risk of mastitis or pain due to engorged breasts. When placed topically on the breast, it absorbs the heat, thereby reducing the inflammation and tightness. They should be used only if the mother is experiencing certain symptoms of pain, tightness or inflammation, or heat at the breast due to blocked milk ducts or engorgement.

4. If breast milk is kept in the fridge and turns a bit yellow, is it safe to drink?

Yes! The shift in the colour of the frozen milk is due to the fat molecules being close together at freezing point while water molecules bind separately to form ice. This does not mean the milk has gone bad – it is okay for consumption.

The American Academy of Pediatrics explains that lipases in human milk continue to break down triglycerides even in frozen milk. “These free fatty acids can give the milk an unpalatable taste, but cause no gastrointestinal upset, no additional bacteria, or altered nutrition,” it adds.

5. Does a mum’s diet affect colic in a baby?

US-based Mayo clinic defines colic as: “Colic is frequent, prolonged and intense crying or fussiness in a healthy infant. Colic can be particularly frustrating for parents because the baby's distress occurs for no apparent reason and no amount of consoling seems to bring any relief.”

The outlook of lactose intolerance depends on a number of factors, the age of the baby, if the baby is exclusively breastfeeding and the mother has dairy in her diet, the mother’s gut and how her baby's gut resembles that of the mum, if she is taking certain medications during labour or postpartum. Generally babies are lactose intolerant in the initial few weeks of life because their body has not produced the enzyme 'lactase' to digest lactose, which will be eventually produced as the baby grows. The baby does not necessarily have any symptoms too. If the baby is lactose intolerant for a longer period it can mean that the gut lining of the baby has been damaged due to medications like antibiotics ingested by the baby or the mother. Highly processed foods and even formula milk can make the baby lactose intolerant, which can affect their immunity in the long run.

6. If you catch a cold/flu/COVID-19 should you stop breastfeeding?

If the mother is having any viral infection her breastmilk starts making antibodies, which is safe for the baby and this also helps increase the immunity of her baby. Breastfeeding also increases immunity of the mother in the long run. There is no need for the mother and baby to separate if the mother is sick with a virus. The only situation where she is asked to separate is when there is a risk of infection through breastmilk, as is the case in diseases such as tuberculosis.

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