Reviewed by

Uwe Porters - Pregnancy & Postpartum Expert


What to Eat When Breastfeeding

Reviewed by

Uwe Porters - Pregnancy & Postpartum Expert

Breastfeeding is one of the body’s most remarkable abilities. The fact that women can create enough food to nourish and grow a baby through their own body is truly magical. But breastfeeding is hard work! If you’re currently breastfeeding a hungry baby, you might already feel the toll it takes on your body! Creating all that milk uses a lot of energy and resources!

How much extra food do you need while breastfeeding?

Mothers generally need more calories to meet their nutritional needs while breastfeeding. Most research shows that you may need anywhere from 330-400 extra calories per day. Depending on what you eat, this could be the equivalent of an extra meal each day! The exact amount of extra food you need depends on a few factors like your height, weight, age, activity level and whether you’re exclusively breastfeeding or doing a combination of breastfeeding and formula feeding. But no matter what, you’ll likely be feeling hungrier so it’s important to give your body what it needs.

While you may be keen to shed the weight you gained in pregnancy, limiting your food intake while breastfeeding is definitely not the best idea! You’ll just end up tired, hungry and irritable.

What foods should I eat while breastfeeding?

By all means, indulge in some of your favourite treats while breastfeeding, but it’s important that you focus on healthy choices to help fuel your milk production. Here are a few things to add to your breastfeeding diet:

  • Protein-rich foods: Reach for lean meats, eggs, dairy, beans, lentils and seafood low in mercury. These foods will help keep you feeling fuller for longer
  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables
  • Increase your intake of iodine and choline while breastfeeding: Research shows that breastfeeding mothers should consume 290 mcg of iodine and 550mcg of choline daily throughout the first year postpartum. Choline can be found in things like eggs, meat, seafood and beans. 
  • Magnesium: Some women experience a magnesium deficiency during pregnancy and while breastfeeding because the baby’s growth increases your magnesium demand. When you breastfeed, you not only provide security and an opportunity to bond with your baby, you also help your baby develop their immune system. How much magnesium do you need while breastfeeding? In general, adult women need around 300 mcg of magnesium each day. While nursing, you should aim for 400-600 mcg daily to compensate for the needs of your hungry baby.
  • Focus on healthy fats: If you’re breastfeeding, you need more omega-3. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid, is important for breastfeeding mums because it helps with the development of a baby’s eyes and brain. You need at least 200 mcg of DHA per day.

Why is variety important when breastfeeding?

Did you know that eating a variety of foods while breastfeeding will actually change the flavour of your breastmilk!? This is guud news because it will help expose your baby to different tastes. While there is no definitive research to back this up, experts believe that this may help your little one adjust more easily to solid foods when they’re ready. Some research shows it can also help prevent allergies.

What about vegetarian or vegan mothers?

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, it’s important to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need for you and your baby. Vegans are sometimes deficient in certain vitamins and minerals that are most commonly found in meat so you may want to add a supplement to your diet to make sure you’re getting what you need. 

Do I need to drink more water while breastfeeding?

Breastmilk is 90% water so it may seem logical that you should ramp up your water intake while breastfeeding but research shows that you actually do not need any more fluids than what is necessary to satisfy your thirst! That said, many experts still recommend staying well hydrated while breastfeeding and drinking at 128 ounces of water per day - that may sound like an awful lot (and it is - more than 3L!) so keep in mind that everyone is different. The key is making sure you stay hydrated and the total amount of liquid required to do that will vary from person to person. To help up your water intake, make sure you have a water bottle with you at all times and try to have a glass of water with each meal.

Foods to avoid while breastfeeding

No! There are no specific foods to avoid while breastfeeding. In fact, studies have shown that there are no foods that new mums should absolutely avoid during breastfeeding unless you notice that your baby reacts negatively when you eat certain foods. 

There’s some concern about consuming allergens like peanuts but unless you are allergic to them yourself, there is no reason to avoid them. In fact, research suggests that if you eat peanuts while breastfeeding and introduce them to your baby’s diet within the first year, he or she is less likely to develop peanut allergies! So grab that peanut butter on toast for breakfast!

Can I drink alcohol while breastfeeding?

We can imagine that you’re really looking forward to a glass of wine or champagne after nine months being pregnant but if you are breastfeeding, it is better to skip alcohol. We wish we could tell you something different but studies have shown that alcohol is not great for the health of your baby.

Do you want to know more about Guud and breastfeeding? Check out this blog + video with new mum and Guud ambassador Sophie to learn more about how Guud Woman supported her pregnancy and breastfeeding journey.

Still have questions? Get in touch. We can help you find the best supplements to take while breastfeeding!