Breastmilk is the best food for newborns and infants. The nutritional stores of a lactating woman may be more or less depleted as a result of the pregnancy and the loss of blood during childbirth. Lactation raises nutrient needs, mainly because of the loss of nutrients, first through colostrum and then through breastmilk. Breastmilk volume varies widely. The nutrients present in this milk come from the diet of the mother or from her nutrient reserves. The conversion of nutrients in food to nutrients in breastmilk is not complete. To have good nutritional status the breastfeeding woman has to increase nutrient intake. Human breastmilk has a fairly constant composition, and is only selectively affected by the diet of the mother. The fat content of breastmilk varies somewhat. The carbohydrate, protein, fat, calcium and iron contents do not change much, even if the mother is short of these in her diet. A mother whose diet is deficient in thiamine and vitamins A and D, however, produces less of these in her milk. The mother should be given advice on consuming a mixed diet. At each postnatal visit, both the mother and the baby should be examined, and advice on the diets of both mother and infant should be provided. A satisfactory gain in the infant's weight is the best way to judge the adequacy of the diet of the infant. Mothers should not receive less than 1800 calories per day.
Keywords: Breastfeeding; Infant; Lactancia materna; Lactante; Nutrición; Nutrition; Nutritional supplements; Suplementos nutricionales.
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