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Integrated with the Sustainable Development Goals in 2016 and endorsed by the World Health Assembly as an important breastfeeding promotion strategy in 2018, the World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated in the first week of August.
This year’s theme is “Supporting Breastfeeding for a Healthier Planet’”. The theme, drawn from the WBW-SDG 2030 thematic 3 areas, highlights the impact of breastfeeding on climatic and environmental changes. The campaign aims to raise awareness on the contribution of natural breastfeeding towards climate change and environmental conservation.
While the formula production processes produce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions which accelerate global warming, breastmilk is a natural, renewable food that is environmentally safe; produced and delivered without pollution, packaging or waste. Artificial breastfeeding leaves behind negative effects that will be experienced by the environment for generations to come.
There are, however, various challenges faced by breastfeeding mothers, the main one being how to increase milk production. For new mothers, this is the most daunting task with many feeling the burden being much of a test or an initiation to motherhood. Unfortunately, this is mostly true, because with breastfeeding, if you do not get it right within the first few weeks after birth, you are likely to give up the whole process.
Luckily, below are naturally occurring foods that you can consume to boost your milk production without hurting the environment.
A herb in the same family as soy, fenugreek seeds are a major ingredient in spices such as garam masala. These small seeds are rich in iron, biotin, and Vitamins, A and D. First discovered for its benefit in boosting breast milk production in Asia, fenugreek seeds have been acclaimed to help stimulate milk production from the ancient days. A study on the benefits of Fenugreek to breastfeeding mothers revealed that a daily intake of 2-3 cups of fenugreek tea increases milk production within two weeks of consumption.
Originally, grown and consumed in the Middle East, the fennel plant is part of the carrot family and is packed with nutrients such as Copper, Potassium, Calcium, Zinc, Manganese, Vitamin C, Iron, Selenium and Magnesium. However, it is the galactagogue contained in the seeds that is key in boosting milk production in nursing mothers.
The benefits and richness of minerals and vitamins in green leafy vegetables can not be overemphasized. Including at least one part of either spinach, fenugreek leaves, kales or mustard leaves as part of a breastfeeding mum’s daily diet ensures she gets the iron, calcium and folate all which are essential for the production of breast milk.
Ever heard the good old tradition where a glass of Guinness was essential for all pregnant mothers just before birth? Well, the old ladies were right, barley is a good dietary source of beta-glucan, a polysaccharide that has been shown to increase prolactin – the breastfeeding hormone, levels in both humans and animals. Although alcohol consumption is not recommended for lactating mothers, consumption of barley in alternative ways such as tossing barley seeds in salads or soaking barley seeds overnight and drinking the barley water are effective ways on integrating barley in a lactating mother’s menu for increased milk production.
Oats’ richness in beta-glucan is only second to barley, making oats the most widely used beta-glucan rich foods for increased breast milk production. From being baked in muffins to cookies, granola and meatloaf, oats may be the easiest foods to integrate into a breastfeeding mum’s diet without the monotony of repeated recipes.
The availability and accessibility of these simple yet very essential ingredients should be the motivation to promote a healthy diet among breastfeeding mums for increased breastmilk production. That way, the world will be a step closer to breastfeeding for a healthier planet both for the benefit of the infants and the environment for generations to come.
Available online [https://waba.org.my/wbw/] Accessed on 7th August 2020
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