Healthy eating for the new mum [research based]

This piece of research highlights one of my frustrations about what mothers are told that is misleading and affects theirs and their baby’s health. I really like this research, in fact I love what it shows so I’m so glad it has been done. In fact I have done this myself with the mums that visit me and come to similar conclusion and have written this and a help guide available on my website here: New mums health package

Mums have told me they have been told these poor bits of advice:

“Eat what you want your baby will get everything it needs”

“Eat junk food, just look after your baby”

“What you eat doesn’t pass to your baby”

All wrong and give the wrong impression of how a human body works! This then leads on to more problems with the mums feeling tired and stressed and then her baby crying more and she gets more tired and stressed and so on.

Let me summarise what the research concludes and my thoughts. These are the main points:

  1. Breast milk is dependent on the mothers diet for the following nutrients: Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, D, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), choline, and iodine.
  2. Mother’s diets were analysed and they were very deficient in the intake of these nutrients. Especially DHA (this is from fish or can be from supplements).
  3. These are how deficient the mums were Vitamin A (58% deficient), vitamin D (44% deficient), and choline (58% deficient);) DHA comprised only 5% of the current expert recommendation. WOW!!! Sooooo deficient!

So many points from this research! It’s amazing. And mums need to know this. But the common advice for mums is wrong as mentioned already.

This is the major point that this research is typically used for and why it is NOT good for mums in the way it could be used. I say this as I have had it preached to me by other health professionals strangely and seen it in other teachings of nutrients in breast milk. The whole point is that certain nutrients are dependent on the mums diet and it shows that mums don’t eat enough to get these nutrients, therefore their breast milk will be deficient in these nutrients.

What I find just as important or perhaps even more important are the other nutrients that AREN’T dependent on the mums diet. Why? Because it is then assumed that the mum DOESN’T need these nutrients as her breast milk will automatically have these in as they are not dependent on her diet. Errr, so where to the nutrients come from, thin air? No, of course not, they come from the mum. From you.

This is what no one tells you. Your breast milk will make itself out of the food you eat and from you. It will take nutrients from you. Does this mean you don’t have to eat them because your baby will get them anyway? Of course not, because you have to top yourself up otherwise YOU become deficient. My mission is healthy mums, healthy babies. Not “mum do whatever you want as long as your baby is okay”.

Much of the information I give revolves around “healthy mum EQUALS healthy baby”. Look after yourself and your baby will be looked after too. What you eat = what your baby eats, what you feel passes to your baby, how your digestion is, is how your baby’s digestion is. Much of you matches your baby.

A few more of my thoughts on this research:

  1. Note that Vitamin A is the nutrient that had a scare about being toxic to mums. Not true!! This was an artificial type of vitamin A. Vitamin A is needed for growth so absolutely vital and mum and baby need it.
  2. Foods that Vitamin A, DHA, B12, choline, Vitamin D are high in have something in common. Can you guess? Probably not as it’s another nutritional controversy. They are all high in MEAT and FAT! Animal products. vegetarian and vegan is trending at the moment, not good if you want these nutrients. And if you are a mum you want these nutrients! If you are vegan or vegetarian you need to supplement or be very good at getting these from vegetable sources which is hard.
  3. The DHA which was very deficient is a particular fat that has many studies showing its importance for baby and mother health. I have all my supplement a high quality, clean DHA oil. The reason being is that the main DHA source is fish and mums don’t really eat fish. Also, much advice around fish is to NOT eat it due to the toxicity levels in it. Pointing to supplementation being needed.
  4. A study showed that better fish oil statues actually helped gut bacteria too! Amazing. If you read any of my material then you will know this is EXTREMELY important for baby health. [“Omega-3 fatty acids correlate with gut microbiome diversity and production of N-carbamylglutamate in middle aged and elderly women” Authors: Cristina Menni, et al]
  5. This study showed that mums omega 3 status was more easily met if supplemented. [Ann Nutr Metab. 2001;45(6):265-72. Fat-soluble vitamins in the maternal diet, influence of cod liver oil supplementation and impact of the maternal diet on human milk composition. Olafsdottir AS1, Wagner KH, Thorsdottir I, Elmadfa I.]
  6. Don’t eat just to get these nutrients, you need to eat well to help you feel better too.

This research is basically highlighting particularly nutrients you need to increase in your diet. And for me highlights that you need foods for all the other nutrients too. This is the good news –> Eating these foods will just about give you all the other nutrients anyway.

I have written extensively about this in 3 mother health ebooks here:

This is the study:

Nutr Clin Pract. 2018 Mar 30. doi: 10.1002/ncp.10071. [Epub ahead of print]
Nutrition Support Team Guide to Maternal Diet for the Human-Milk-Fed Infant.
Copp K1, DeFranco EA1,2, Kleiman J3, Rogers LK4, Morrow AL5, Valentine CJ1,6.
Author information

Human milk feeding is encouraged for all infants; however, the mammary gland depends on maternal dietary intake of vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, D, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), choline, and iodine. Nutrition support team knowledge of maternal feeding guidelines for these nutrient sources can therefore impact infant intake. We hypothesized that these key nutrients for lactation in the mother’s diet would be less than the dietary guidelines in the United States.

This was a secondary analysis of nutrition data collected during a randomized, controlled trial. Dietary records were analyzed from 16 mothers (13 with singleton and 3 with multiple births) completing the study. Mean dietary intakes of selected nutrients were calculated and compared with the current dietary reference intakes.

Mean maternal dietary intake for singletons was significantly (P < .05) lower than the dietary reference intakes for (vitamin A (58%), vitamin D (44%), and choline (58%);) DHA comprised only 5% of the current expert recommendation. Based on singleton recommendations, mothers to twins consumed an adequate intake except for DHA.

Women providing breast milk for singleton preterm infants did not consume dietary reference intakes for key nutrients. Twin mothers’ diets were adequate except for DHA, but these guidelines are based on singleton pregnancies and remain poorly understood for twin needs. The nutrition support team can have a unique role in maternal dietary education to impact human milk nutrient delivery to the infant.

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