Nutrition Tips For Breastfeeding Moms

August 6, 2022

Breastfeeding helps to promote growth and good health for your baby.  But some may question what are some ways breastfeeding mother can nourish their bodies.  What foods and drinks are best for your diet and how does it affect your breast milk? Here we will cover some basic nutritional tips you can follow while you are on your breastfeeding journey.

Let’s Talk Calories

You will need to increase your caloric intake by 330 to 400 calories per day.  This will help to give you the energy and nutrients you need to produce milk.

This could look like adding in a slice of whole grain bread with a tablespoon of peanut butter, a medium banana or apple, and about 8 ounces of yogurt.

Foods That Will Help Fuel Your Milk Production

You will want to focus on protein-rich foods, such as lean meat, eggs, dairy, beans, lentils, and seafood low in mercury. Try to also include a variety of whole grains as well as fruits and vegetables.

Incorporating a variety of foods while breastfeeding will change the flavor of your breast milk. This will help to expose your baby to different tastes, which may be helpful in the future when you are introducing your baby to solid foods.

Consult with your healthcare provider to learn which vitamins you may need.  You will want to ensure that you and your baby are getting all of the vitamins you need.

How Much Fluid Does A Breastfeeding Mom Need?

First, listen to your body and drink when you are thirsty, and if your urine appears to be dark yellow you will need to increase your fluid intake. You can drink a glass of water or another beverage every time you breastfeed.

Limit your intake of juices and sugary drinks if you are concerned about weight gain or want to support any weight loss goals you may have after your pregnancy.

Caffeine can be troublesome for some.  Try to limit yourself to no more than 2 to 3 cups (16 to 24 ounces) of caffeinated drinks per day. Caffeine in your breast milk may interfere with your baby’s sleep or even agitate your baby. 

Vegetarian Diet & Breastfeeding

Here are some ways you can stick to a vegetarian diet and ensure that you are getting the nutrients you need.

  • Focus on foods rich in iron, protein, and calcium. 
    • Good sources of iron include lentils, enriched cereals, leafy green vegetables, peas, and dried fruit, such as raisins. You can also help your body to absorb iron by eating iron-rich foods with foods high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits.
    • For protein, consider plant source options:  soy products and meat substitutes, legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Eggs and dairy are also good options.
    • Good sources of calcium include dairy products and dark green vegetables. Other options include calcium-enriched and fortified products, such as juices, cereals, soy milk, soy yogurt, and tofu.
  • Supplements. 
    • Your healthcare provider may recommend a daily vitamin B-12 supplement. Vitamin B-12 is found almost exclusively in animal products. 
    • If you don’t eat fish, you might also want to consider taking an omega-3 supplement. 
    • If you don’t generally eat enough vitamin D-fortified foods, such as cow’s milk and some cereals, and you have limited sun exposure, you may need vitamin D supplements. Your baby needs vitamin D to absorb calcium and phosphorus. Too little vitamin D can cause rickets, a softening, and the weakening of bones. Tell your doctor and your baby’s pediatrician if you’re giving your baby a vitamin D supplement.

Foods & Drinks To Avoid While Breastfeeding

Certain foods and drinks may require a certain level of caution while you’re breastfeeding. For example:

  • Alcohol. There’s no level of alcohol in breast milk that is considered to be safe for a baby. If you drink, avoid breastfeeding until the alcohol has completely cleared your breast milk. Which typically takes two to three hours depending on your body weight. Consider pumping your breast milk to feed your baby before drinking alcohol.
  • Caffeine. Try to avoid drinking more than 16 to 24 ounces of caffeinated drinks per day. 
  • Fish. Seafood can be a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Most seafood contains mercury or other contaminants. Exposure to excessive amounts of mercury through breast milk can pose a risk to a baby’s developing nervous system. To limit this exposure, avoid seafood that is high in mercury such as swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish.

If you suspect that something in your diet may be affecting your baby, like changes in their bowel movements or they seem to be fussy – avoid the food or drink for up to a week to see if you notice a difference in your baby’s behavior. Avoiding foods like garlic, onions, or cabbage, may help.

Here at OB-GYN Women’s Centre of Lakewood Ranch, we are committed to helping women through all phases of life.  Don’t hesitate to ask us any questions or discuss any concerns you may have.