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Mother's Diet and Breastfeeding: Everything You Need To Know

Mother's Diet and Breastfeeding: Everything You Need To Know

Posted by Krystal Duhaney, RN, BSN, IBCLC on Nov 12th 2020

After the many restrictions on food and drink during pregnancy, you might be wondering if the same limitations apply for your breastfeeding journey. Depending on who you ask, you might get conflicting answers. A lot of these “rules” that have been established over the years have since been disproved, although some healthcare providers, well-meaning family members, or concerned friends haven’t gotten the update or choose not to believe this new information.

There are some guidelines to be aware of, but in general, you are free to eat whatever your heart desires! Healthy eating and proper hydration are the best steps you can take to achieve a good breastfeeding diet.

Keep reading to find out what can affect your breast milk and tips for nourishing yourself while you give your baby the best diet around - your very own milk!

More Liquids Doesn’t Equal A Larger Supply

Many new mothers are told that if they are having trouble keeping up their milk supply it’s because they aren’t getting enough to drink. This leads mamas to drink an abundance of water or other liquids when it isn’t necessary.

As long as you are drinking to satisfy your thirst you are getting enough liquids. If you are worried about dehydration, keep water nearby to sip on throughout the day. Drink a variety of juices, teas, milk, bone broths, and soups if you get tired of water.

A Perfect Diet Won’t Create Better Breast Milk

For far too long women have been made to believe that they need to eat a stellar diet in order to make nutritious milk for their babies. That’s simply not true! Breast milk is constantly changing to meet the needs of our little ones despite what we had for lunch. It is designed to nourish and sustain your baby even if you aren't able to eat the best. 

Of course, a well balanced diet is always encouraged whether you are breastfeeding or not. Eating a variety of foods will help you feel your best and keep up your energy to meet the many demands of motherhood. Keep a supply of fresh fruits and vegetables, proteins, whole grains, and good fats on hand for snacking or easy meals.

You Can Still Enjoy Caffeine and Alcohol

Moderation is key for both. For nursing mothers the recommendation for caffeine intake is around 300 mg a day or less. This means you can still have your morning cup of coffee (or even two!) if you’d like.

There are varying opinions on alcohol consumption while breastfeeding. The CDC recommends no more than 1 drink per day and that you wait until 2 hours after you have a drink to feed your baby. Be cautious if you plan on drinking and feeding or caring for your baby, and never bedshare after consuming alcohol as your natural reflexes may be repressed.

Your Diet Doesn’t Need To Be Bland

There is a common misconception that breastfeeding means a mother must stick with plain foods or their baby will be fussy and gassy. Most of the time moms can continue to eat whatever they like.

In the past, many foods were thought to cause babies to have an upset stomach. Moms were told they needed to eliminate things like garlic, onions, and spicy food, or even dairy, soy, and wheat from their diet. Nowadays it isn’t as common for such measures to be taken unless a pattern has been identified or food allergies run in the family.

If you think that a certain food is upsetting baby, keep a food journal. Take note of what you’ve eaten and when your baby seems to fuss. Try eliminating that food for 2 weeks and see if there are any changes. If there are, introduce the food back into your diet. If your baby becomes agitated again you know that food should be avoided, and if not, you can continue to eat it without worry.

Eat To Satisfy Your Appetite

When you begin breastfeeding, you may notice that you feel ravenous despite eating regular meals. Nursing moms will generally need to eat an additional 300 to 500 calories per day because breastfeeding burns extra calories.

You may need to snack between meals to keep your hunger at bay. Eating nutritious and filling snacks will also help to curb some of the more unhealthy cravings you might give in to when hunger comes on strong.

Protein bars, hummus and veggies, and smoothies are simple ways to fill up throughout the day. Don’t forget about Milky Mama’s Lactation Treats and Drinks like our super popular Emergency Brownies and Lactation LeMOOnade so you can treat yourself while supporting your milk supply!

Balancing a healthy diet and a newborn can seem impossible, but you can rest a bit easier knowing it doesn’t have to be. Your meal plan doesn’t need to be all-organic or Pinterest perfect to be good for you and your baby. As long as you are feeling good and staying hydrated you are doing more than enough to keep yourself and your baby nourished.

Want more breastfeeding tips and tricks? Come hang out with us on Instagram or get up close and personal in our private Facebook group. We’ll cheer you on, share the best breastfeeding memes, and dish out more knowledge to help you on your journey!