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Explain the Dietary Management of a lactating mother?
Meeting the needs of lactation requires a varied nutrient-dense diet. Generally, a well-balanced diet will meet nutrient needs of the mother. Whenever feasible, food should be the source of nutrients and self-initiated vitamin and mineral supplements should be avoided. The dietary intake of caffeine, artificial sweeteners and alcohol must be totally avoided. This is because most chemicals ingested by the lactating mother cross into the milk. Therefore, the mother should seek the advice of her physician before taking any dietary supplement, any medication or drugs such as caffeine and alcohol, which also pass into the milk and consequently 'affects infant. Excess caffeine may make the infant irritable and wake fill, but the research indicates that moderate amounts of caffeine (1-2 cups of coffee per day) will not harm or upset the infant. Large doses of coffee may interfere with availability of iron from milk. Ethanol appears in human milk in a similar concentration to the maternal blood, although acetaldehyde, which is the major toxic breakdown product of ethanol, does not appear in the milk. Alcohol may impair the milk ejection reflex, therefore, it is prudent to avoid alcohol intake when lactating.
Further, infants metabolize alcohol inefficiently. Smoking also reduces milk volume. Infant exposure to passive smoke negates the protective effect of breastfeeding and offers against sudden infant death syndrome. Foods with a strong flavour may alter the flavour of milk. A few infants may be sensitive to particular foods e.g. cow's milk protein. Hence, when the mother's diet includes such foods, the infants may experience discomfort. However, this may not happen to most of the infants. In general, the mother can eat whatever she likes. However, if she suspects that a particular food is causing the infant discomfort, she should consult the physician. If the food is eliminated for an extended time, appropriate foods should be substituted to ensure nutrient adequacy.
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