Breast milk is the best and most complete source of nutrients because the nutrient content of breast milk is just enough for the recommended daily needs of the baby. In breast milk is full of nutrients such as protein, glucide, lipids, vitamins and minerals. These substances have an appropriate ratio and are easily absorbed, thus ensuring the nutritional needs of the child to develop normally within the first 6 months. When mothers have a reasonable and complete diet, the amount of micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals in breast milk will ensure adequate micronutrients for the baby.
Vitamin A deficiency in children in our country today is mainly preclinical, detected when the serum retinol level is below 0.7 umol / liter. New born, the amount of vitamin A stored in the liver and this amount depends on the nutritional status of the mother during pregnancy. After birth, the baby’s vitamin A requirements increase because the use of that stored vitamin A is exhausted and needed to be replenished because in babies under one year of age, the daily requirement for vitamin A is about 350. – 500 mcg / day. The source of vitamin A in breast milk can ensure the vitamin A requirement for exclusively breastfed babies for at least the first 6 months (breast milk contains about 400-700 mcg / liter of vitamin A).
Several studies have shown that even mothers with poor nutrition (in places with food shortages) supplementing mothers with high doses of vitamin A 24 hours after birth helps maintain vitamin A levels ( retinol) in breast milk for 4-6 months postpartum in exclusively breastfed infants. It is therefore essential to promote breastfeeding to prevent vitamin A deficiency in children and the dissemination of this problem should be combined with immunizations or during the day of micronutrient for young.
Breastfeeding can ensure the amount of calcium for the baby because it is small but easily absorbed in breast milk, in addition, the phosphorus and vitamin D content in breast milk has the appropriate ratio and content than milk. Consequently, breastfed infants have a lower risk of rickets in formula-fed infants. The amount of iron in breast milk is low, only about 0.3mg / liter. However, this iron is still sufficient for the recommended requirement for children aged 4-6 months because the biological value of iron in breast milk is higher because it binds directly to lactoferin, an iron-binding protein found in breast milk. . As a result, babies fed cow’s milk may not get enough iron and often experience anemia; Babies who are breastfed in the first few months get enough iron and will reduce the risk of anemia. Other micronutrients such as vitamin C, minerals such as zinc and copper are also found in sufficient levels in breast milk, which can ensure proper growth and development of children.
The key to successful breastfeeding, in addition to exclusive breastfeeding, nutrition for a nursing mother is crucial in maintaining the nutrient content of the milk stream.
During the first six months, mothers should eat more and more variety of foods (15- 20 combination foods from 4 food groups) to have enough milk and good quality to feed their babies.
In addition to adding more energy to the daily diet, increasing about 500-600 Kcal / day includes all four groups of nutrients which are protein – including animal protein and vegetable protein, starch (glucide ) and fat. The proportion of the energy generating components that are about: P: L: G = 12- 15%: 20- 25%: 60- 65%. Animal proteins (meat, fish, eggs, milk) are a rich source of vitamin A and iron to help meet the mother’s need for these micronutrients; Seafood such as oysters and crabs are zinc-rich foods.
In addition, the addition of fruits and vegetables is important because it can provide essential micronutrients into breast milk (Carotene-rich fruits such as mangoes, papaya, and carrots; fruits rich in vitamin C such as oranges, tangerines, grapefruit; and some green leafy vegetables are quite high in iron and rich in folic acid such as broccoli, watercress ..). In addition, attention should be paid to the daily supplementation of water (2 liters) because water is the main ingredient that makes up breast milk. You can drink water, juice, milk, and vegetable juice.
Although breastmilk is the most perfect nutritional formula for a baby’s first 6 months of life, currently in Vietnam only 19.6% of women are exclusively breastfeeding during this critical period; This rate is much lower than the world average (35%) (source UNICEF). Therefore the breastfeeding program is part of the responsibility of society and the whole community. The support of family and community is really important and helpful to help mothers implement their own breastfeeding.