You do not need a special breastfeeding diet to provide the right nutrients through your breast milk. But you do need to eat enough calories daily. Use our breastfeeding calorie calculator to work out exactly how many extra calories you should be eating. It is always a good idea to check your BMI and adjust your calorie intake accordingly.
Whether you make nourishing your body a priority or not, your body will continue to prioritize milk production. Your baby's needs will be satisfied before yours.
The Best Breastfeeding Diet
Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding
- Shark, swordfish, tilefish and king mackerel. They have a high mercury content.
- Tuna. Eat no more than one tuna steak, or two 170g cans a week.
- Coffee (limit to two cups a day).
- Using artificial sweeteners like saccharin.
- Stay away from processed foods as they contain too many additives.
Extra Vitamins and Nutrients Needed
Extra vitamins & nutrients needed while breastfeeding:
- Calcium: A minimum of 1,000mg is required daily. You can find calcium in foods such as; sesame seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, tofu, and kale. You should eat four serving of any one of these every day. For babies with milk intolerances, the mothers can take a calcium supplement like calcium lactate, which contains no milk proteins.
- Folic acid: Found in asparagus, cabbage, corn, chickpeas, spinach and orange juice.
- Zinc: You need 20mg every day. Foods: Eggs, meat, oats, peanuts and prawns.
- DHA & AA: These are two are essential fats that are needed for your baby’s brain development. Foods that contain these fats are nuts, green vegetables, and fatty fish such as herring, sardines, and anchovies.
- Choline: Also needed for your baby’s brain development. Foods rich in Choline: Eggs and beef.
- Don’t forget to add a multivitamin to your breastfeeding diet and make sure that it contains iron. Eat foods containing iron every day. For non-meat sources like breakfast cereal or green vegetables, include some vitamin C, such as a glass of orange juice, in the same meal, to increase iron absorption.
- Vitamin D: Foods that contain Vitamin D, to add to your breastfeeding diet: Oily fish.
Things that can irritate your baby via your breast milk
If you are convinced that something in your diet is causing your baby discomfort, you should get your baby tested for allergies before altering your diet.
New Research on Infant Food Allergies
Recent research suggests that the introduction of "culprit allergy foods" into your baby's diet in small amounts from the age of 4 months can prevent allergic reactions later on. A mother is now encouraged to eat these foods during pregnancy and breastfeeding unless she herself is allergic to a specific food. Some culprit foods include dairy products, nuts, fish, eggs, wheat, soy and citrus fruits. Reference for this new information: Allergies - Where are we now? & Early consumption of peanuts in infancy is associated with a low prevalence of peanut allergy.
Breastfeeding Diet Tips
- Try to consume at least three fat servings daily. Eat healthy fats in the form of nuts and seeds and/or coconut oil or olive oil.
- Try to drink as much clean water daily, as possible. A few hydration tips discussed here.
- Stay away from tobacco. Nicotine passes directly through the breast milk to a baby. If you cannot do this, then at least make sure that your last cigarette is an hour apart from your next feeding session.
- Stay away from excessive alcohol intake, as it may retard your baby’s growth.
- Stay away from any drugs that are not prescribed by your doctor, such as laxatives.
- Try to stay away from excess sugary or salty foods.
- New scientific studies show that a breastfeeding diet containing organic dairy and meat products, instead of conventional products, increases the fatty acid content in breast milk.
Postpartum Weight Loss
Breastfeeding and weight loss
Your baby will be consuming between 200 to 1000 calories from your breast milk each day. Work out yours here. Most mothers lose weight after having a baby. Some lose all postpartum weight after just a month. But others say they just don't seem to lose the extra pounds while still breastfeeding.
It appears to be up to the mother's body, her lifestyle and her diet. Genetics may also play a role.