Best Diet when Breastfeeding

Now that you are no longer pregnant, how should your diet change when you are breastfeeding? Depending on mom and baby, changes in diet for nursing mothers can vary a little or quite a bit from pregnancy. You will need to watch and see how your baby responds to certain foods you eat, which they may find more difficult to digest. However, a balanced diet is a good place to start to make sure you and your baby are getting the right nutrition to help nursing be as beneficial as possible.

Nutrition Needs Increase as Metabolism Changes

One comment nursing mothers often find themselves saying is, “I’m always hungry.” Now that your body is working around the clock producing milk, your metabolism is getting a big boost. Milk production burns 500 calories a day. To meet this demand on your body, your diet will need to include around 500 calories more per day than you were eating during pregnancy. However, not all calories are the same. Don’t fill the extra 500 deficit with empty calories like soda, chips or sugary treats. Nutrition matters.

Right Balance of Nutrition

Much like you were eating during pregnancy, a diet while you are nursing needs to be balanced to give you the energy to take care of and nurse your newborn, while also giving your baby the best nutrition possible from the breast milk produced especially for them. Try to aim for the following each day:

            Three servings of protein (lean meat, poultry, fish or non-meat protein options)

            Five servings of calcium (milk, cheese, yogurt)

            One or more servings of foods high in iron (dark, leafy vegetables, chickpeas, lintels)

            Two servings of Vitamin C (citrus fruit, orange juice, broccoli, bell peppers)

            Three to four servings of green leafy and yellow vegetables, yellow fruits (kale, spinach, squash)

            One of more servings of other fruits and veggies (strawberries, bananas, cucumber)

            Three to four servings of whole-grain and other concentrated complex carbohydrates

            Limit high-fat foods (fried, baked goods)

            Eight cups of water, juice, or other non-caffeinated, nonalcoholic beverages

            DHA-rich foods to promote baby's brain growth (wild salmon, DHA-enriched eggs)

            Daily prenatal vitamin

Adjusting Your Diet

If you notice your baby is irritable following meals, you will need to talk to your health care provider about foods you may consider omitting from your diet while nursing. Some babies find it difficult to digest breast milk when mom is eating broccoli, beans or even dairy products like cheese. Eliminating one food at a time and observing baby following meals will help determine which foods may be causing a problem for the baby.