What Should You Eat While Breastfeeding

Healthy diet for a breastfeeding mom

Women who are breastfeeding typically produce between twenty-three and twenty-seven ounces of milk per day. To be able to produce this volume, women must consume about five-hundred more calories a day than they usually do.

Women who are breastfeeding must also be sure to consume between two and a half to three quarts of water per day. The water consumed by pregnant women goes straight to their milk production, so they often find themselves to be thirstier than when they were not pregnant. However, it is important that pregnant women do not consume more than three quarts of water per day, as this may reduce milk production.

The importance of increasing calorie intake cannot be overemphasized. Women who plan to nurse for longer than three months should consume at least 2,500 calories per day (depending on body weight). However, simply increasing calorie intake by eating junk food does not offer the same benefit to the mother or the baby as consuming healthy calories, as junk food has no nutritional value. Protein is essential for breastfeeding mothers. Experts suggest that a woman should eat one gram of protein per day for every pound that she weighs. For example, a woman who weights one-hundred-forty pounds should aim to consume one-hundred-forty grams of protein daily.

Women should begin a meal plan for eating six meals per day, consisting of breakfast, a snack, lunch, another snack, dinner, and a snack afterward. A nursing woman’s body will manufacture milk continually, so she will need to remain charged throughout the day.

Foods to avoid while breastfeeding

Some foods should be avoided during breastfeeding, as everything a woman consumes is passed on to the baby through the breast milk. It is for this reason that doctors first suggest that women take a look at their diets if their babies experience bouts of colic. An example of a problematic food is chocolate, as it has been shown to contribute to colic and upset stomachs in babies whose mothers have consumed it. If your baby seems to experience some discomfort after breastfeeding, think back on what you have consumed earlier that day. Foods like chocolate are best if avoided entirely while breastfeeding.

In addition to chocolate, spicy foods and greasy foods are also harmful to nursing babies. Even adults often experience stomach upset after eating greasy foods, and the effect is much higher on tiny babies. Women should hold off on eating junk foods until their babies are done nursing. This will, of course, be healthier for the mother as well and will be an excellent opportunity for a permanent lifestyle change.

In addition to junk foods that are not healthy for anyone, even some foods that are generally considered to be healthy should be avoided while women are breastfeeding for one reason or another. Garlic and onions are two such examples. The reason why foods with strong flavors should be avoided is that they will give the breast milk a different flavor, which may cause the baby to refuse to nurse. The taste buds of babies are different than those of adults; they need time to become acclimated to new tastes, and breastfeeding is not the ideal time for this.

Many women never make the connection between the foods they have eaten and the reactions of their babies to breast milk. This is because what a woman eats may not show up in her milk for a few hours, so a baby may accept milk immediately after the mother consumes garlic or onions but may refuse it a couple of hours later.

What about beverages? You ask…

Of course, beverages consumed by the mother influence the taste of breast milk just as much as foods do. Just as a woman should stay away from caffeine during pregnancy, she should avoid it while breastfeeding as well. If you find yourself unable to make it through the day without caffeine, a cup or two of coffee or soda is generally allowed, but more than this amount can be very harmful to a nursing baby. The effects that too much caffeine can have on an adult will be passed down to the baby, as well. Remember that it takes much less caffeine to make an infant jittery or unable to sleep than it does to do the same to an adult.

Breastfeeding is a wonderful step toward raising a healthy child. It is important to keep yourself healthy during this time, as well, for your own sake and for that of your baby.

What to Eat When Breastfeeding

Some mothers think they have to drink a lot of water to get enough milk. In reality, this is just not the case. But you should try to drink more than 8 glasses a day, which corresponds to about 1.2 liters. If you are thirsty, drink, but you do not have to be obsessive. As long as you drink enough to feed your thirst, your body is more than capable of maintaining the moisture content. However, it is not uncommon to be very thirsty during eating because a hormone called oxytocin is released.

Foods to eat

Eat lots of fruits and vegetables with natural carbohydrates such as potatoes, and rice to give you energy. Fiber is still important for the health of the digestive system, including whole pasta, bread, rice, and lentils. Protein is also important; you have to try to eat fish at least twice a week, salmon and mackerel are good sources of oily fish. And do not forget the calcium that you can get from cheese, milk, and yogurt.

Foods to avoid

Although fatty fish is a good thing, many experts agree that you should not eat more than two portions a week during breastfeeding. Another warning concerns fish such as sharks, marlin and swordfish. We do know that these fish contain pollutants that may end up in your milk. You have to avoid them while you are eating.

Vitamin D supplement

You must take vitamin D every day while you are breastfeeding. Vitamin D is needed to support healthy bone development and to prevent rickets, a condition that causes weak or deformed bones. While the currently recommended safe upper limit for vitamin D intake is 4000 IU/day, it is very important to check with your doctor and have your own vitamin D status assessed by a blood test before you begin supplementing.

A vitamin supplement must be adequately provided after a healthy diet.


Caffeine can affect your baby, but as long as you drink one or two cups a day, it should be good. One thing to consider is that caffeine can be found in some non-alcoholic beverages, so be sure to check this before you drink, as this may affect your baby’s sleep patterns.


Not drinking alcohol is the safest option for breastfeeding mothers. Alcohol on occasion and as long as it is, it should be OK. It is recommended to wait at least 2 hours after a single drink before nursing. In the past, it was said that brown beer contributes to milk production, but that turned out to be inaccurate.


It is clear that when your body feeds your baby, it puts you to the test. You burn more calories, and you need more energy. Make sure you eat enough and often to keep your energy. It is not unusual for you to have a higher appetite than usual during this period and it is important to eat as often as you like. Using a nursing pillow to feed your baby can make it more comfortable for both of you.