The Breastfeeding Diet: How Food Affects Your Milk

What you consume while breastfeeding matters!

Your diet and breast milk are closely intertwined, so what you put into your body on a daily basis can affect your breast milk – and your little one who’s nursing. Check out these tips to make sure you stay on track and give your body all it needs to nourish you and your little one.

  • Continue making healthy choices

While you had to watch your food choices closely during pregnancy, breastfeeding allows for a larger range of foods and fewer restrictions. That said, keep eating your rainbow of fruits and veggies and a variety of healthy foods from all food groups. Ensuring these things are incorporated into your breastfeeding diet will benefit you and your baby with nutrients and energy, and the varying tastes of your breast milk may even help your baby be a less picky eater in the future!

  • Don’t count calories

Breastfeeding burns 300 to 500 calories a day, so you’re probably feeling hungry more often when nursing. But now’s not the time to crash-diet yourself back to your pre-pregnancy weight. Feed your body what it needs and don’t worry about the calories – your body needs them to continue to make that liquid gold for your little one.

  • Stay hydrated

Water, water everywhere – and you should be drinking it! Your body needs hydration to support your energy, health, and general wellbeing. So make sure you keep water bottles stashed at your nursing station or around the house where they’re easily accessible, and remind yourself to drink throughout the day.

  • Caffeine

We know – you’re a mom and you’re tired. If you’re reaching for your coffee mug or an energy drink as part of your daily routine, try to limit your caffeine intake to 500 mg a day (about three 8-ounce cups of regular coffee or 3 and a half 16-ounce energy drinks), as some sensitive babies may become extra fussy or wakeful if caffeine is present in the breast milk they drink.

  • Be aware of baby’s potential food sensitivities

You may notice fussiness or gassiness in your baby after you consume certain foods such as dairy, soy, or wheat. Keeping a food journal to track the reactions as you eliminate or add back in foods can help to pinpoint the culprit in your diet and breast milk.

  • Alcohol intake

It’s important to be fully informed when making your decision about if and how much alcohol you’ll have while breastfeeding. Most professional sources suggest a limit of 1-2 drinks a week, and only consuming 8 ounces of wine or 2 beers in one sitting. If you do drink, it’s recommended to wait 2 hours before breastfeeding.

  • Medications and Herbs

Many over-the-counter medications and prescriptions are considered safe to take while breastfeeding, but it’s always a good policy to talk to your healthcare provider before taking any new medications. If you’re taking herbs or other natural remedies, keep in mind that just because it’s natural doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe. Again, check with your healthcare provider to ensure whatever you’re ingesting won’t negatively impact your breast milk supply, or your baby.

You're putting in the effort to give your baby the perfect food – breast milk – and taking care of what you eat can ensure that you are both happy, healthy, and thriving on your breastfeeding journey.