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What to Eat While Breastfeeding

August 6, 2018

Breastfeeding can be confusing when it comes to your own nutrition. Your body is what feeds the baby after all, so are there better foods than others for the baby? Are there certain foods to avoid?

Here are some general tips about how you should eat while breastfeeding to help you and your baby get the nutrients you need.

What to Eat

Breastfeeding mamas usually require more calories to keep their energy and milk supply up. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends an extra 450-500 calories per day in the form of nutrient-dense food, such as a piece of toast with peanut butter.

As a general rule, it’s better to go with whole-foods than processed snacks. Foods rich in protein, complex carbs, folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, and B vitamins are very important. Here is a list of foods that contain these nutrients and other benefits:

  • Spinach
  • Oatmeal (can help increase milk supply)
  • Enriched cereal
  • Yogurt and other low-fat dairy products
  • Almonds
  • Beans
  • Lean beef
  • Salmon
  • Eggs
  • Whole-wheat bread

Don’t forget about water! Your body is producing a lot of extra fluid, so water intake is so important for your milk supply. Drink whenever you’re thirsty and make sure you’re well-hydrated. You can ask your doctor what he/she recommends. Your doctor may also suggest that you continue with your prenatal supplement to ensure you’re not missing any nutrients with your diet.

What to Limit

Alcohol and caffeine are two substances that are commonly consumed that are absorbed into breast milk.

Alcohol should be consumed with caution. The AAP says that nursing after one drink is general okay, but it’s important to wait a 2-3 hours before nursing to allow your body time to metabolize the alcohol. While some say that “pumping and dumping” removes the alcohol from breast milk, this is a myth, and excessive alcohol consumption can have detrimental effects on your baby’s health.

Caffeine also passes into breast milk, so the ACOG recommends drinking no more than 200 mg per day, and trying to drink the caffeinated beverage immediately after nursing to limit the amount that is passed to your baby.

Sometimes certain foods can be the culprit behind a rash, loose stools, or a fussy baby. Cow’s milk is often a culprit, so if you notice a change in your baby’s behavior or health, talk to your doctor and your baby’s doctor about eliminating certain foods to see if your baby’s symptoms are reduced.

What food do you recommend to other moms to eat while breastfeeding? 


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Author Info

Avatar for Angela Silva

Angela Silva

Angela graduated with her B.S. in Exercise and Wellness and is a NASM certified personal trainer who specializes in postpartum fitness and recovery. She enjoys writing, cracking jokes, and spending time with her family, preferably while fishing. She shares many of her life adventures on Instagram as @angelagrams

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