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Breastfeeding Nutrition: Dos and Don’ts

Breastfeeding is a wonderful phase in a woman’s life. However, it is essential for every breastfeeding woman to take special care of her nutrition. In this article, we will talk about the breastfeeding nutrition and the dos and don’ts of breastfeeding nutrition. This would surely be of great importance if you are a lactating mother.

Breastfeeding Nutrition: Dos And Don’ts

Breastfeeding Nutrition: Dos And Don’ts

It is true that breastfeeding burns your calories.(4) The milk production procedure is a metabolic process and it revs up the metabolism of the lactating mother.

Breastfeeding needs the use of about 670 kcal every day, if you breastfeed your baby daily. It is important for you to note that you need to eat healthy, remain active and get enough of rest while in the breastfeeding phase. So, as a mother who is breastfeeding, you need to keep in mind to add enough of carbohydrates, such as food grains, and fruits along with protein and healthy fats. Add more of lean protein, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products and more of quality foods to your diet when breastfeeding.

Let us get to know more about breastfeeding nutrition.

Do’s of Breastfeeding Nutrition:

Remain Hydrated When Breastfeeding: (5)

One of the most important things that you need to do during breastfeeding is keeping yourself well hydrated. Because, breastfeeding nutrition is not only about the type of foods you take, but also the amount of water you drink too. Being hydrated helps you feel full, and help you curb weight gain. It is important for you to drink at least 1 additional cup of water every time you nurse your baby. You must make sure that you are drinking enough of water so that your urine becomes clearer when breastfeeding.

Balanced Diet Very Important When Breastfeeding: (6, 10)

One more thing you need to strictly keep in mind while breastfeeding is to eat a balanced diet. During breastfeeding phase, women require an extra demand for certain nutrients, especially for secreting enough quality and quantity of milk and also for safeguarding their own health. During this time the requirement for energy also increases, as you require extra calories for producing milk. Proteins, vitamin B1, B2, B3, B12, folate, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and calcium are some of the essential nutrients that breastfeeding mothers require to add in their regular diet.

You can get enough of protein from foods like nuts, eggs, seeds, legumes, dairy and fish. You must also consume a lot of whole grains like, oats, brown rice, whole-wheat bread, crackers or pasta. It is also important for you to consume more vegetables and fruits, such as leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables, bell peppers, citrus fruits, berries and apples as a part of breastfeeding nutrition.

Consume At least 3 Nutritious Meals Every Day:

You also need to take a strict note of having at least 3 nutritious meals every single day while breastfeeding. Usually breastfeeding moms feel hungrier and this is because breastfeeding burns more calories (up to 500 per day). One of things to be mentioned that you lose weight while nursing your baby, as breastfeeding mobilizes the fat present in the body. You must thus aim for consuming at least 3 nutritious meals daily and also add 2-3 healthy yet light snacks every day as part of your breastfeeding nutrition. Make sure you do not skip your meals, especially the breakfast. You can choose some healthy snacks, such as vegetable rolls, a handful of nuts, fruit smoothies, fruit platters and sandwiches.

Add Sufficient Iron To Your Diet If You Are Breastfeeding: (7)

Iron is highly essential for fulfilling the additional demands in your breast milk. Breastfeeding mothers require 25 milligrams of iron. Some of the foods that contain enough of iron include the legumes, pulses, green leafy vegetables, eggs, water melon and red meat.

Include Essential Supplements When Breastfeeding:

It must kept in mind that in case you are not eating more of vitamin-D fortified foods, like cereals and cow milk or if you have limited sun exposure, then you need to take vitamin D supplements while breastfeeding.(8) Your baby requires vitamin D, so as to absorb minerals like calcium and phosphorus. Deficiency in vitamin D when breastfeeding can result in weakening and softening of bones and also rickets in your baby.(9)

Vitamin D is thus very much important for your baby’s and your own healthy bones. This vitamin D is received from the sun. In case you are living in a place where enough of sunshine does not come, especially during the winter months, your body might struggle in making the required amount of vitamin D, and thus supplements are required.(1) You can talk to your doctor about the best vitamin D supplements.

Apart from Vitamin D supplements, you also need calcium supplements while breastfeeding. This is because calcium levels get depleted while breastfeeding.(2) Try and take 4 servings daily from milk, cheese, yogurt, nuts, sesame seeds, tofu and leafy green vegetables. One serving might be half-a-cup of green vegetables or even a small 50 g piece of the cheese.

Some Pro-Tips for Breastfeeding Nutrition:

Make sure you limit your exposure to any kind of hazardous pesticides by aiming for a lot of vegetables and fruits and by washing them properly before consuming.

Be very particular about food hygiene. Avoid foods that generally have high risk of contamination. Eat seasonal and local products. You also need to make sure to drink only filtered water.

Don’ts in Breastfeeding Nutrition:

We say, “we are what we eat”. Food substances can travel from your bloodstream to the breast milk. There are some foods, rather some strongly-flavored food items, which can cause your child in having an aversion to its taste. So, you need to take care of what not to eat while breastfeeding.

Do Not Fast During Breastfeeding:

One of the most important things that you need to keep in mind while breastfeeding is, do not fast while nursing your baby. Dieting while breastfeeding may actually reduce the quantity, as well as quality of your breast milk.

Do Not Consume Foods Rich in Fats and Sugar:

In order to reduce your pregnancy body weight, you must not consume foods that are loaded with sugar and fats. Do not consume high sugar and high fat foods, such as chocolates, potato chips, soft drinks and cakes. Such types of foods have lot of calories and little amount of nutritional value.

Do Not Consume Alcohol When Breastfeeding: (10)

One of the important things in breastfeeding nutrition is not to consume alcohol. Alcohol passes very quickly to your breast milk and can seriously affect your baby. It is also essential for you to avoid smoking and tobacco products while your breastfeeding phase.

Avoid Caffeine When Breastfeeding: (11, 12, 13, 14 )

It must be strictly noted that excess of caffeine intake during breastfeeding can interfere with the sleep and energy levels of your baby. So, aim for taking not more than 1-2 cups of caffeine-containing drinks per day. Do not forget that caffeine is also present in energy drinks and colas too; and there can be up to 50 milligrams of caffeine in only a small bar of plain chocolate. (3)

Do Not Eat Mercury-Containing Fish: (15, 16, 17)

You must make sure not to consume mercury-containing fish. It is true that seafood can be really healthy that offers omega-3 fatty acids for protecting your brain health, however, the mercury content found in such foods can be really dangerous for your child’s brain. So, limit fish to twice a week and also avoid fish like swordfish, shark, tilefish and king mackerel, which contain high amount of mercury content in them.

Do Not Ignore The Signs of Possible Food Allergy in Baby:

One of the strict notes while breastfeeding is, do not ignore the signs of any possible food allergy in your baby. In case you find that the baby has got a skin rash, has difficulty breathing, or is extremely fussy after eating, keep a note on what you have eaten and talk to your pediatrician about it.


Now we are better aware of some of the Dos and Don’ts of breastfeeding nutrition. If you are a lactating mother and want to offer the best of nutrition and health to your baby, then do follow the above mentioned tips and also make sure you are maintaining a healthy lifestyle while breastfeeding. Along with nutrition, it is also important for you to exercise and also relax. You can begin with moderate exercises such as walking, biking and swimming when breastfeeding. However, always ensure that you are consulting with your doctor before starting any exercise during breastfeeding phase. Rest and relaxation is equally important for breastfeeding mothers and thus you must get enough of sleep and keep away from unwanted stress and allow your body to get enough time to recover from your pregnancy, delivery and the breastfeeding stage.

Finally, as a lactating mother, it is very important for you to be good to yourself. So, keep yourself at the best possible health while you are breastfeeding.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 24, 2022

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