Were you told that you shouldn’t follow a vegetarian diet if you are breastfeeding?
Going vegetarian during breastfeeding will not cause a drop in the mother’s milk supply, assures Ms Nehal Kamdar, a senior dietitian at the nutrition and dietetics department at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
Plus, the nutritional needs of breastfeeding women on vegetarian diets do not differ from that of a woman on normal diet.
But depending on the type of vegetarian diet a breastfeeding woman is following, her nutritional intake may need to be adjusted to ensure that she is getting adequate calcium, iron, vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D.
Vegetarian food sources for calcium include milk, yogurt, cheese, beancurd, broccoli, spinach, nuts, and fortified products, such as calcium-fortified soy milk.
For iron, take eggs, green vegetables, beancurd, legumes, nuts and dried fruit.
Vitamin B12 is in milk, fortified soy milk, eggs and fermented soy products, such as miso or tempeh.
As for omega-3 fatty acids, they are found in oil (canola, soybean), seeds (flax, chia), nuts and legumes (soybeans, lentils).
For vitamin D, take eggs, fortified milk and get 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure daily.
A version of this article appeared in The Straits Times.
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