Best Foods To Eat While Breastfeeding

What are the best foods to eat while breastfeeding? When breastfeeding, what you eat forms the basis of your baby’s diet. Breastfeeding is the action of feeding a baby milk from a breast. Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure your baby’s health as breast milk is an ideal food for your baby and provides all the energy and nutrients that your baby needs. 

Your body has made your breast milk, it makes your babies milk based on many factors, one of these factors is your diet. What are the best foods to eat while breastfeeding though?

You may have questions about;

  • Are there foods that I should avoid or
  • What foods are best for me to eat and
  • Maybe you are wondering if there are some foods that will help you to make the right amount of milk or the best quality milk for your baby
  • and lastly what are the best foods to eat while breastfeeding.

One of the amazing things about breastfeeding is that your body knows exactly what nutrition your baby needs at every stage of development. Your body will help you determine what the best foods are to eat while breastfeeding. But to help you out let’s read about what some of the best foods are to eat while breastfeeding.

Diet for Breastfeeding Mothers

Postpartum nutrition is very important, for your health and your babies. There is sometimes a misconception that you need to be “eating for two” or even overeating during breastfeeding. Click on this link if you would like to know how much to eat whilst breastfeeding. Postpartum time is a time for nourishment and healing. Please use your hunger levels as a guide to your eating quantity and remember not to skip any meals if possible (I know it is a busy time).

Include each day some of the following foods, and you will be a step ahead in the best foods to eat while breastfeeding.

  • 7-9 Serves of bread and cereals, rice, pasta etc 
  • 5 plus plus plus more services of vegetables and legume
  • 2-3 serves of fruit
  • 3 serves of dairy foods
  • 2-3 serves of protein foods etc

Protein Intake 

You will need extra protein when breastfeeding. Protein also makes us feel fuller for longer so try to add it to every meal and snack. We need protein for growth, maintenance and repair and your baby needs these too. There is much research about protein requirements in pregnancy and when lactating but generally speaking, if you have time for at least 2-3 serves of protein in a day you will be doing well to achieve adequate protein. Protein sources are meat, eggs, nuts, dairy foods and legumes – these are some of the best foods to eat while breastfeeding.

Calcium Intake

The amount of calcium in a mother’s breast milk solely depends upon the mother’s urinary calcium secretions and bone mineralization. It is recommended to add milk, cereals, and other dairy products to your diet to fulfill the 1000mg calcium daily intake that you need at this stage.

A tip is to always read the nutrition labels to see how much calcium a product has. For example, 1 cup of milk can have 300 mg of calcium. Another easy way to remember how much calcium to have is to aim for three serves of calcium-containing foods each day. 

Some sources of calcium for the best foods to eat while breastfeeding are dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, dark green vegetables, sardines, salmon and tofu and foods fortified with calcium such as some bread and cereals.

Iron Intake

best foods to eat while breastfeeding

Your iron needs are not as high once you have delivered your baby in the majority of circumstances. A normal healthy diet should provide your body’s iron needs. Consider still taking your prenatal vitamins postpartum and making an effort to eat foods that are a good source of iron such as meat, fortified cereal, lentils and spinach for example. 

Iodine Intake

Iodine is important for growth and development and your baby’s brain and nervous system development. Babies get their daily iodine intake from their mothers. So, it is recommended to add 200 micrograms to the daily intake to fulfil the infant’s daily intake. Good sources of iodine are milk, vegetables and seafood.

Folate

As discussed here folate is a vitamin that we need and our babies need. Good sources include leafy veggies, whole grains, nuts and avocados. Generally speaking, continue with your pregnancy vitamin and mineral supplements that have been recommended to your from your doctor or health professional if needed.

Breastfeeding Foods to Avoid

We have discussed some of the best foods to eat while breastfeeding, but it is also recommended while you are breastfeeding to add natural and fresh products to your daily meal and avoid using highly processed food. Food containing artificial additives, preservatives, and trans fatty acids are best avoided. There are a few foods to avoid that we should mention in more detail;

Avoid Caffeinated Drinks

The daily intake of caffeine should be limited or avoided. If you can’t go without coffee, just stick to one to two cups of brewed coffee in a day. 

Alcohol Intake

According to experts, the intake of alcohol for lactating women is not recommended. If you take alcohol then wait until it is cleared from your milk. A small shot of beer, wine, and liquor usually takes three hours to leave the body or to completely clear from your milk, so it is best to avoid it totally.

Sugary and Carbonated Drinks

It is generally advised to keep yourself hydrated during your breastfeeding stage. You may feel thirstier than usual. Drinking a glass of water every time you breastfeed is considered a good habit. But consuming sugary or carbonated drinks will not quench your thirst. These drinks will only provide you with extra calories without any nutrition, so try not to have those sugar containing drinks.

Do Lactation Cookies Work?

do lactation cookies work

Would lactation cookies be one of the best foods to eat while breastfeeding? Have you heard about lactation cookies and wondered if they actually are beneficial? Do lactation cookies work to increase the breast milk supply? Yes, they actually can. These small cookies are also known as Boobie bars, Booby boons, lactation cookies, and breastfeeding biscuits. These cookies are popular for their ability to increase the milk supply of the lactating mother. They can contain a combination of turmeric, oatmeal, milk thistle, fennel seed, and brewer yeast for example and can be a good source of galactagogues that all help to promote lactation. 

Try these delicious cookies during your last days of pregnancy. You can see the effectiveness of these biscuits within two days of consumption. Usually, it varies from person to person but generally, an immediate boost in the milk supply has been observed in lactating mothers. Hang in there, you should be producing more milk in no time!

What are the Best Foods to Eat while Breastfeeding?

It is normal to feel hungry often during your breastfeeding stage. During the lactating phase, your body needs more nutrients and calories than normal. It is recommended to add protein-rich meals, vitamin supplements, and fibre-rich snacks to have a balanced diet. It is recommended to add certain snacks and nutritious foods to your diet.  Some of the best foods to eat while breastfeeding are snacks. You can add some of the following during the breastfeeding stage to make your meals more delicious. 

Meat, Poultry, and Seafood
  • Meat is considered a major source of proteins. You can add a variety of chicken, beef, lamb, pork, shellfish, sardines, seaweed, and salmon. Adding protein-rich foods can increase the breast milk supply and also make you feel fuller for longer. Meat options are some of the best foods to eat while breastfeeding.
Healthy Snacks
  • It is usually recommended to add healthy snacks to your diet to avoid a long break between meals. For this, you can add a variety of seeds and nuts such as almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, and chia seeds. Adding certain seeds to your diet can aid in increasing the milk volume during breastfeeding. You can also have dark chocolate, tofu, kimchi, and sauerkraut according to your taste. Try and choose healthy fat options, naturally occurring fats such as what is in avocados rather than processed saturated or trans fat foods (in other words don’t choose processed snacks if possible)
Fibre-rich Foods
  • For any individual, fibre plays a major role in the effective digestive system. So, in addition, healthy fibre-rich starches such as sweet potatoes, beans, lentils, oats, quinoa, buckwheat, and many others can be added to your diet to increase your fibre content.
Fruits and Vegetables
  • All the seasonal fruits and vegetables are recommended to add to your daily food intake. You can add fresh berries, bananas, oranges, strawberries, cabbage, kale, garlic, cucumber, broccoli, or tomatoes to your daily intake.
Herbs and Spices
  • Some of the most commonly occurring foods such as garlic, fenugreek seeds, fennel and turmeric also benefit milk supply. They are loaded with antioxidants and flavonoids that increase milk production. Go for them as some of the best foods to eat while breastfeeding.

In a nutshell, choose your food wisely whilst breastfeeding, as you are supplying all your baby’s nutrient needs as well. Hopefully, we have answered your question about what the best foods to eat while breastfeeding? Make your diet as varied as possible and as close to home made cooking as you can – and enjoy!

References:

Segura, Susana Ares, José Arena Ansótegui, and N. Marta Díaz-Gómez. “The importance of maternal nutrition during breastfeeding: do breastfeeding mothers need nutritional supplements?.” Anales de Pediatría (English Edition) 84.6 (2016): 347-e1.

Karcz, Karolina, Izabela Lehman, and Barbara Królak-Olejnik. “Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding? Experiences and Opinions of Polish Mothers and Healthcare Providers.” Nutrients 12.6 (2020): 1644.

Roosita, Katrin, et al. “Effects of Galohgor Nutraceutical Lactation Cookies on Breast Milk Volume and Lactose Concentration.” 

Korean Journal of Family Medicine 43.1 (2022): 56.Jeong, Goun, et al. “Maternal food restrictions during breastfeeding.” Korean journal of pediatrics 60.3 (2017): 70.