What are the Dietary Needs of a Breastfeeding Mother?






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We all know that pregnant women should eat healthier than when they are not pregnant. However, many people may not realize that it is just as important for a breastfeeding mother to have the right dieting habits as well. If you are deciding if you will be breastfeeding, learning the ways that you can take care of your dietary needs are important.

1. Eating a well-balanced diet

For starters, you should be certain that you are eating a well-balanced diet. This is important both for the health of your baby and for the health of you as well. Although a baby can survive on breast milk even if her mother is not eating the best diet, many women have found that not eating the right things can hinder their milk making process. You also need the additional calories and nutrients of a well-balanced diet in order to keep up with the demands of your baby and to make sure that you have the energy that you need to function on a daily basis.


2. Count out your daily calorie intake

When you are a new mother, you will find that there are many demands on your time and your body. Finding time to count out your daily calorie intake will probably be difficult, so it is not a practice that you should try to adhere to. Generally, you should aim to consume around 2000 to 2500 calories per day or about 500 more than you would with a normal diet.


3. Aim for slow and steady weight loss

More than likely, you are also attempting to lose weight while you are breastfeeding. With the many demands that being a breastfeeding mother can have on your body, this may prove to be a challenge. Instead of focusing on how you want to look eventually, you should take it a day at a time and aim for slow and steady weight loss. The exact way that you lose weight all depends on your body and it is important not to get discouraged if you find you are not losing weight as quickly as you would have hoped.


4. Choose a variety of healthy foods

When selecting the foods that you eat, it is important that you choose a variety of healthy foods rather than just sticking to one or two healthy options. Make sure that you are including healthy fats, proteins and nutrients that your body needs in order to stay healthy while you are breastfeeding.


You should also consume healthy fats as well. This can come from foods such as avocados, nuts and many types of seeds. Be sure to substitute unhealthy fats, such as vegetable oil with healthier versions like canola or olive oil. You should also limit fats that come from meats and whole milk as well.

5. Avoid foods that have been treated with pesticides or other contaminants

Just as you did during pregnancy, it is also important that you stay away from certain contaminants now that you are breastfeeding. For example, avoid foods that have been treated with pesticides or other contaminants. It is best to eat organic foods during this time and avoid those that have been treated so that they will remain fresh for long periods of time.


6. Eat fish in moderation

Most women also know the dangers of eating fish while they are pregnant or breastfeeding. Many types can introduce mercury into your system which can be very damaging to your baby.


However, fish is great in moderation and there are many types that you can eat regularly without any harmful effects caused by mercury. For most fish, 12 ounces per week is the goal that you should aim for in order to give your baby the omega-3 that she needs. Tuna, however, should be limited to 6 ounces per week.

7. Avoid alcohol while you are breastfeeding

After nine months of avoiding alcohol, you may have a strong desire to have a few drinks after giving birth. Unfortunately, you should also avoid alcohol while you are breastfeeding. While a drink here and there may be ok, studies have shown that alcohol in breast milk causes your baby to consume less and become drowsy quickly.

However, he will also sleep for shorter periods of time and the alcohol may cause issues to his delicate health. When you are breastfeeding, it is important for you to remain healthy, just as you were while you were pregnant.


Remember, everything that you eat, your baby is receiving in your breast milk, so if you are not eating the right nutrients that your baby needs, he will not be receiving them either. So, for the health of both you and your baby, it is important to keep a healthy lifestyle while you are breastfeeding.

What are the Dietary Needs of a Breastfeeding Mother?, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating

Regina Ledoux, RN, CNM

Ms. Ledoux began her career as an ObGyn nurse practitioner prior to becoming a practicing midwife in the Santa Cruz community. Working together with ObGyn physicians in her own practice, she has over 20 years experience in women's health, pregnancy and childbirth.