You may have had a lactation consultant, a nurse or your physician reference the breastmilk you are providing to your preterm baby as “Liquid Gold”. Research supports the importance to feeding your breastmilk to your baby during critical weeks while in the NICU. But did you know you can increase the level of some nutrients in your breastmilk by what you choose to eat, which can potentially result in better outcomes for your baby?
A recent research study has shown that the risk of chronic lung disease may decrease in babies receiving high level of Omega 3s. A specific Omega-3 fatty acid, known as DHA, is a type of fatty acid that has already shown many different health benefits to the brain such as improved cognitive development in babies. The worldwide average of DHA in breastmilk is 0.32% of fatty acids. However, the average amount in breastmilk in the U.S. is often significantly lower due to mother’s poor consumption of Omega 3 rich foods.
Low Mercury containing fish such as salmon and chunk light albacore tuna are excellent sources of DHA. Some milks and eggs are also supplemented with Omega3s, and lastly, prenatal vitamins taken while lactating may or may not have DHA and their amounts can often vary. So check your food and supplement labels.
Eating nutritious foods is not only important for your health, but also the health of your baby! Your breastmilk can change from liquid gold to liquid platinum!
*This blog post was written by:
Alayne Gatto MBA RD CSP CLC LD FAND
Registered Dietitian and Certified Lactation Counselor