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.


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!


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.

Starting Solids – The Best Way to Start

starting solids

Starting solids for your baby is a milestone in both their lives and yours. It is a time of fun, learning and discovery for your child as they play with new tastes and textures. It is also a time of learning for you the parents – 

  • What do you feed your baby?
  • How do you feed them? 
  • and when do you feed them? 

There are so many questions to ask and answer. Let me help you navigate this sometimes confusing time of your baby’s life.

Baby’s First Foods

For a child’s adequate growth, there are certain nutrients that he or she requires to continue in good health. The type of first foods your baby consumes has a significant impact on how your child grows. For example, as we discovered from iron in pregnancy, when in the womb babies accumulate iron and they use these iron stores after birth for the first six months of life. Breastfeeding or infant formula provides your baby with some iron, however as babies age, their iron reserves decrease and therefore babies should begin eating solid food at the six-month mark to provide them with extra iron.

Initially, as you are aware, your baby requires liquid intake, for which the mother’s milk or formula milk is sufficient. As your baby grows, they need solid food apart from breastmilk or formula. The introduction of solids is crucial for assisting infants in learning to eat by exposing them to various flavours and sensations of foods. Introducing solids into their diet will help them to grow and develop their teeth and jaws. Moreover, it will strengthen other abilities that they’ll need later on for many skills like language development, for example.

When to Introduce Solids?

first foods

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, your baby can start eating solid (pureed) food at around six months of age. It is definitely advised to wait till four months before introducing solid foods to your baby.  As you begin always offer breastmilk or formula first. After consuming breastmilk or formula, babies’ stomachs at this age will still have room for other meals. They’ll feel hungry frequently by the 6th-month mark – ready for foods other than milk.

The first time you offer solids to your baby it is important that you are all relaxed and content, and that there is not too much activity or stimulation around your baby.

When to Stop Breastfeeding or Formula Feeding?

Your baby should continue to get the majority of his or her nourishment from breastmilk or infant formula even after you start introducing solid meals. Your youngster will begin consuming more solid meals afterwards in the coming months while consuming less breast milk or formula feed.

By the time they are nine months old, most babies have developed chewing and swallowing skills and will have more solids and less milk. This will continue as your baby grows. Finishing breastfeeding is a very personal decision and everyone’s timing is different. However, by the time your baby is a toddler at 12 months you can generally switch from infant formula or breastmilk to plain cow’s milk or fortified unsweetened soy beverage or other appropriate alternatives.

Your Baby should still have breastmilk or formula as well as solids, up to at least one year of age

How Do I Know if my Baby is Ready for Starting Solids?

The indications that show your infant is ready for first foods are:

  • They are 6 months of age
  • Have good head and neck control (ie can sit up on your lap and hold their head up)
  • Can sit up straight when supported
  • Able to roll over
  • Their weight is twice their birth weight
  • They start showing signs of curiosity about food, such as looking at what’s on your plate and reaching out to take it
  • They will feel joy when they see you preparing their meals
  • Opening their mouth when you have a spoon near their mouth
Introducing solids

How Much Food does a Baby Need?

When introducing solids to your babies, you will only start with 1-2 tiny teaspoons of food.  Initially, your baby might only take a small taste and is unlikely to swallow much. Afterwards, you can raise the quantity according to your child’s appetite and physical indications. Definitely, by 12 months, your baby should be consuming three small meals each day in addition to breastmilk or infant formula. Eventually, your baby will need some fruit and vegetables, meat (including fish), cereals and dairy foods every day – but it takes time to get there – one spoon at a time.

First Foods to Give to Your Baby

It is so important for your baby’s first solid foods that you only give your baby one food “type” at a time. For example, any fruit like mashed banana or apple pureed can be a good food to begin with – but don’t mix foods at this stage. 

When your baby begins solids, the first foods need to be very smooth and pureed. Between trialling each new food it is also a great idea to wait three to five days before trying another food. Soon your baby will be eating and savouring a variety of different foods, one by one.

When your baby is tolerating smooth puree consistency he or she can progress to foods that are roughly mashed or minced, soft and easy to chew and swallow – this process takes months – do not rush it.

Keep in mind that over the next 6 months your child must have a variety of foods with different textures. This will help your baby learn to chew, which is necessary for developing speech and self-feeding. It also helps prevent feeding problems once your child gets older. 

By the time they are a year old, your baby should be eating the same meals as the rest of the family. (But certain meals that are a bit hard and larger will still need to be prepared soft and chopped).

Here are some of the foods which your baby can eat as his/her first foods:

  • Cooked vegetables – for example, pumpkin, carrot, sweet potato, broccoli or spinach, cooked potato
  • Fruit – either cooked or mashed, for example, banana, melon or avocado, apple, pear, 
  • Grains – for example, bread, oats, rice, pasta, iron-fortified cereals
  • Dairy foods – for example, yoghurt and cheese
  • Pureed or minced meat
  • Cooked or mashed eggs

Preparing Baby’s First Food

Your child will first find it simpler to eat meals that are mashed, pureed, strained, or have a very smooth texture. Your baby may need some time to get used to different food textures. Your baby might sneeze, cough, or gag, but it’s natural as he or she is not used to solids. You can introduce thicker and lumpier foods as your baby’s oral abilities advance over the coming months.

It’s vital to serve your child foods with the correct texture for his or her development because some foods can be choking hazards. To prevent them from choking, prepare foods that can be quickly dissolved with saliva and don’t need to be chewed. Encourage your infant to eat slowly by giving him or her small meals. Always keep a close eye on your baby when you are feeding them solid foods and be aware of choking hazards. 

Using a household blender is the easiest option to perfect the smooth consistency that is needed for the first foods for your baby. Eventually, you can change to a fork or a mashing implement but to start with a blender works wonderfully. Cook the food and then blend it and place it to cool into ice cube trays and then freeze. This is a time-saving option, as we are talking about very small quantities of food. Of course, there are many many pre-prepared options on the marketplace, these are particularly convenient when out and about. The nutrition that you provide your child is paramount so always read the food labels and buy from reputable sources. 

Tips to Keep Baby’s Food Safe

You must prepare your baby’s food in a hygienic and safe manner and appropriately store the food. It is also important to reheat food to the appropriate temperature and cool it before giving the food to your baby. Preprepared foods or commercial foods can be a great option if you are going out and about.

Here are some of the important tips by which you can keep baby’s food safe and hygienic:

  • Your workstation where you prepare food should be clean
  • Wash your hands before making and handling food
  • Cool hot food before giving it to your child.
  • Avoid hard foods like whole nuts, uncooked carrots, or apples, for example
  • Wash and peel fresh fruits
  • Remove the bones from meat or fish
  • Slice small, spherical objects like grapes and cherry tomatoes into tiny pieces
  • Be careful if you are transporting baby food out of the home – pack it in appropriate storage and heat-sensitive and thermal containers

Don’t forget to clean your little one’s teeth as they start to pop through!

when to introduce solids

What can Baby’s Drink?

Once your child is six months old, you may begin giving them cooled, boiled water in a sippy cup during mealtimes and other times of the day. Start with small sips and then increase the amount according to the need. This is done so that your baby may practice drinking from a cup. This is really just for practice as babies at this age only need fluids from breast milk or formula. Along with the water they receive from breast milk or formula, a baby between the ages of 6 and 12 months requires two to eight ounces of water daily. A baby that is 12 months old can generally drink cold tap water without it being boiled.

Foods to Avoid when Starting Solids

There are some foods to avoid until your baby is a certain age:

  • Honey until 12 months, due to a risk of botulism spores
  • Raw or runny eggs should be avoided
  • Avoid foods containing raw eggs like homemade mayonnaise until 12 months because bacteria in raw eggs can be harmful to babies
  • Reduced-fat dairy until two years of age. Babies need full-fat dairy for growth
  • Whole nuts and similar hard foods until 3 years
  • Pasteurised full-fat cow’s milk as a main drink before12 months of age. Most importantly, avoid unpasteurised and reduced fat milk and dairy foods
  • Tea, coffee, cordials, soft drinks, fruit juice, sweet drinks or energy drinks as they have added sugars, which are not recommended 
  • Foods containing high sodium are not suitable for a baby’s health
  • Sugar, salt and soy sauce
  • Hard vegetables, fruit, lollies, sausages with skin on, whole nuts, whole grapes, raw carrots etc – anything that could be a choking hazard 

Allergies and First Foods

Some infants have allergic reactions to certain foods. We are unable to completely prevent allergies, but we can do a few things which may help lower your baby’s risk of food allergies. Please talk to your physician if allergies are prevalent in your family.

  • Introduce solids from 6 months of age
  • Introduce food that can possibly cause allergies to your baby before they are a year old
  • Breastfeeding your baby until 6 months, if possible
  • If your baby has an allergic reaction to food cease that food and seek help from your national emergency centre or ambulance

A baby’s diet is a very critical factor for his/her growth. In fact, it contributes to 90% of your baby’s growth. There will be more information coming to in the future to help you navigate this journey.

Tips for Starting Solids

  1. Ensure a relaxed environment
  2. Wash your hands and use clean spoons and bowl
  3. Nurse your baby on your knee or place them in a high chair
  4. Let your baby play with a spoon (have two on hand)
  5. Put a very small amount of pureed food on the end of the spoon 
  6. Put the spoon near your baby’s mouth and wait for them to open their mouth
  7. Place the spoon in their mouth gently and let them play, suck and eventually swallow the foods
  8. Repeat 
  9. Your baby will not generally eat much initially, this is totally normal
  10. Start with a tiny amount of iron-rich foods like baby cereals, then move on to mashed vegetables and fruits, pureed meats and other cereals
  11. You can make the food smooth and mushy with formula or some breastmilk
  12. Your baby will only be interested in a few teaspoons, to begin with – you will know when they wish for more
  13. Once they have established single ingredient foods you can then begin to add vegetables and meat and rice cereals etc together
  14. Just start initially with 1-2 little meals twice per day and build up slowly to a few times per day
  15. Always stay with your baby to monitor them for choking hazards – remember there is no rush 
  16. Move to mashed to small lumpy foods as your baby progress over time
  17. Enjoy the play (and mess)

A Quick Postpartum Diet Guide

healthy weight before pregnancy

A postpartum diet, or postnatal diet, refers simply to what foods and drinks to consume after childbirth, both for restoration purposes and for providing great nutrition for your baby. It’s all about nourishing both you, your body and your baby. Your body needs healing after giving birth – and there’s no better way for your body to heal than through a healthy postnatal diet and rest. For a deeper look into postpartum diet information visit postpartum diet for more details.

Benefits of a Healthy Postpartum Diet

  • It accelerates recovery: A diet rich in nutrients like complex fiber, protein, and healthy fats, plus proper hydration, can speed up your body’s healing process. A healthy postnatal diet plan will possibly help to prevent bone loss, prevent haemorrhoids, and boost your iron stores, among other benefits.
  • It facilitates milk production: What you eat as part of your postpartum diet greatly determines the quality and quantity of the milk you produce.
  • It supports your general wellbeing: A balanced postnatal diet will also support the stamina you need 24/7 in this new role.

Guidelines for a Healthy Postpartum Diet

All women, after birth, need to nourish their bodies and rest, regardless of wether they are
breastfeeding or not. Your postnatal diet should consist of healthy sources of a wide variety of food from each food

Vegetables and legumes – we need roughly 5 serves of vegetables in our daily diet. For
women breastfeeding there is an increased need for a few more serves of vegetables and
legumes on your daily plate.  This can be quite tricky, one way to help this is to have your
snacks based on this food group, think cut up vegies and hummus dip for example.

Fruit – there is no increased need for fruit in a postpartum diet. Fruit provides us with fibre
and vitamins and minerals and we still require approximately 2 serves per day.

Grains and Cereals are very filling. They are a good source of energy and fibre, which is
important for a healthy postnatal pregnancy. It is important once again to choose healthy
wholegrain carbohydrates (brown breads, rice and pasta) not refined carbohydrates (white
breads, pasta and rice).

Meats, poultry and legumes nuts/seeds – To ensure a healthy postnatal diet, you should
incorporate around 2 -3 serves of protein-rich foods into your diet each day, breastfeeding or
not. Try and make them high iron foods (such as lean red meat or tofu).

postpartum vitamins

Good sources of plant-based protein include beans, nuts, legumes, lentils, nut butter, and seeds, soy products and tofu, plant-based protein powders (e.g., pea protein powder). Animal- based protein, such as beef, fish, chicken, or eggs can also enrich a postnatal, as they are loaded with essential amino acids.

Milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives – Calcium, protein, iodine and vitamin A and D are just some of the nutrients that this food group can provide. Milk, cheese and yoghurt are great dairy options or look for some non-dairy calcium enriched alternatives.

What to Drink Postpartum?

Adequate hydration is an important part of postpartum nutrition. Nursing mothers need to consume approximately 2-3 litres of water per day. When you are breastfeeding, you need to drink more to replace the fluid used in breast milk (~700 ml/day). Achieve this by having a drink, such as water or milk (within your dairy serve recommendations) every time your baby feeds. You will also need to drink more fluid at other times during the day. Quick tip: before you sit down to feed your baby go grab a glass of water. The best choice is always water.

Postnatal Vitamins?

Postnatal and breastfeeding mothers should consider postnatal vitamins. There is an increased need for some nutrients for breastfeeding women so for some people it is possible that diet alone may not be sufficient to ensure adequate nutrition. Breastfeeding mothers may benefit from taking a multivitamin supplement, as would non-breastfeeding mothers, for health and wellbeing.

Of particular note are iodine and choline in lactation. Iodine sources are dairy products, eggs, seafood, iodized table salt. Choline can also be found in dairy foods and also in eggs, meats, some seafood, beans, peas, and lentils. Once again talking to your healthcare professional before commencing any supplement is recommended.

Foods to Reduce After Childbirth

  • Aim to reduce packaged foods as these foods can be often high in salt/sodium, calories/kilojoules and fat or sugar
  • Discretionary foods (you know the ones we mean) – chips, chocolates and cakes
  • Soda/soft drinks, sports drinks, flavoured milks and high calorie drinks
  • Try to consume good monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and decrease your intake of saturated and trans fats. Plant based foods are the winner here
  • If you are hungry try not to eat snacks that are high in fat or sugar such as candy/lollies, or cookies/biscuits or chocolate. Try and reach for a healthy snack

Foods to Avoid After you Have Had a Baby?

Caffeine Postpartum?

Definitely, caffeine does pass into your breastmilk, so if you are breastfeeding then limit your caffeine drinks to around 2 each day (it does depend on how much caffeine is in your drink so make sure you read the label). There is caffeine in many drinks such as coffee, tea, cola, cocoa and energy drinks. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA recommends no more than 300 mg of caffeine per day. Too much caffeine can make your baby fussy or keep baby awake.

Alcohol Postpartum?

Generally speaking if you are nursing your baby it is best to not consume any alcohol.
Alcohol can affect your baby, as it passes very quickly into your breast milk.  If you choose
to drink, just having one single alcoholic drink once in a while if your baby’s breastfeeding
routine is well established and if your baby is at least 3 months old, may be recommended.
You then need to wait at least 4 hours before your breastfeed your baby.


A healthy postpartum diet is a key to recovering from childbirth and pregnancy. It is important to aim to enjoy the gift of new motherhood. So, before you modify your current diet, why don’t you take the time to show yourself some kindness? Rest when you feel there’s a need, move your body when it seems right to and enjoy lovely healing foods that nourish your body and your soul.

Postpartum Weight Loss

postpartum weight loss

Is postpartum weight loss on your mind? How long does it actually take to lose post-pregnancy weight? Is it even safe to lose weight so close to having a baby? Should you be dieting postpartum? Will you ever be your pre-pregnant weight again? So many questions.

Life is probably looking a little differently now you have met your little baby. You will be learning what new motherhood looks like for you and your family. The last thing on some of your minds is postpartum weight loss, but for other mothers, it can be something they are keen to get into.

Postpartum is NOT the time to be trying to lose weight…..

It is the time to:

  • Enjoy your baby
  • Rest
  • Recuperate
  • Have others help out with the housework and daily chores
  • Appreciate your body
  • Nourish your body
  • Move your body as able
  • Eat well
  • Relax your body

12 Things About Postpartum Weight Loss

1. Why is it Hard to Lose Weight After Pregnancy?

Growing a baby takes time and it will take time for the extra weight to leave your body.  Your uterus went from the size of your fist to around 38-40 cm in diameter at the end of pregnancy. It takes time for your internal organs to return to their normal place, after making room for a baby, and your muscles need to regain strength.  The uterus is still enlarged for weeks after having your baby.

The Mayo Clinic discusses that during labour and childbirth you lose initially about 13 pounds (5.9 kg). This is made of baby weight, amniotic fluid and the placenta. The shedding of retained fluids will continue after birth, but the extra fat that you have successfully stored during pregnancy (which was actually stored for a reason – to nurture your baby) will still be around.

2. Expected Weight Loss after Birth? 

postpartum health

It may take 6 – 12 months to return to a weight that is similar to your pre-pregnancy weight or it may not happen at all. We all know some women who have had a baby and instantly appear back at their pre-pregnancy weight, but the majority of women may take a year or more to be back at their pre-pregnancy weight. It will take time to really establish what a new normal is for you.

We change as we grow older and make babies, and this is ok. There is a myriad of internal dances happening in your body, you have not just simply added a few extra kilograms to your weight, you have grown and nurtured a baby, and then laboured for hours to bring this baby into the world. Flex that patience muscle.

3. Not Losing Weight After Birth?

Be gentle with yourself and your body and be in awe of what you have achieved and are achieving – you are now keeping a little one alive and safe on a daily (and nightly) basis.

4. Will Breastfeeding Help to Lose Weight?


Breastfeeding can help burn up some extra calories, but there is no real evidence that this helps or aids long-term weight loss. There is so much happening at this time in our bodies- the age you fall pregnant, your hormones, sleep deprivation, and differing pregnancy weight gain are all factors that can make our bodies use calories differently, or at least at a different rate, than another mother. So technically, yes breastfeeding will burn more calories, however, in practice, this has a negligible effect on weight loss.

It is important not to eat with the thought in mind that breastfeeding would help to dissolve these extra calories – it just doesn’t work like that.  It’s important to note that we breastfeed, if we choose to, for the benefit of our baby, not to lose weight.

5. After Delivery Exercise To Lose Weight

Everyone knows that to lose weight it is beneficial to exercise. You will be tired, really tired after having your baby and this will affect your ability and your will to exercise. Take it easy and move as you feel able to in time. Try and include gentle physical activity into your day when you are ready. A general rule of thumb is to start light exercise 4-6 weeks after birth if you are able.

For some women who were able to maintain exercise during pregnancy and had an uncomplicated vaginal birth, it may be safe for light gentle exercise as soon as you feel able. If you had a caesarean section or complicated birth you need to talk to your health care provider.

6. Weight Loss Right After Birth?

Your baby is basically attached to you – it can be difficult with a newborn to find time for yourself. Some women are able to leave their baby quite easily with loved ones, family or childcare and for others, this can be more difficult. Either way, it is important to try and establish some time for yourself.  You may need to find ways to fill your own tank whilst still being with your baby, such as watching movies, walking in the park, meeting other parents in a social setting, play dates etc but defiantly doing things that remind you of things you enjoy – it is so beneficial to you and your mental health.

7. Asking for Help Postpartum.

Allow people to do things for you. Sometimes this can be so hard to navigate as many people are just not good at asking for help. However having a baby is one of those times that people genuinely wish to help, so work on a list of helpful ideas that you can mention if anyone asks you. Maybe ask your visitors to do a job while YOU hold the baby for once….. rather than you running around looking after everyone – just sit and hold the baby and tell everyone to look after themselves. Stress and weight gain can be related – so take every opportunity to reduce the stress in your life.

8. Does Sleep Affect Weight Loss Postpartum?

Sleep will be coveted. Sleep plays a role in your ability to lose weight. So although there is not a huge amount we can do with the pressures of a newborn baby through the night it is worth acknowledging that it is important for you to grab sleep when you are can. When someone offers to look after the baby, for example. Numerous studies have reported this relationship between sleep and weight gain. The National Institute of Health article states that sleep loss can affect appetite, dysregulation of sleep hormones, metabolic dysfunction, oxidative stress, glucose intolerance, and insulin resistance. Sleep is a wonder drug.

9. Meal Prepping Postpartum?


Meal prepping is an incredibly helpful tool to have commenced whilst pregnant. Essentially, meal prepping is the making of a meal and then freezing it for later use. It’s important whilst meal prepping to think about all the facets of the meal, try and incorporate good protein and carbohydrate sources and easily be able to either add salad or veggies (or have them already cooked in the meal). In the last few weeks of your pregnancy hopefully, you were able to start some meal prepping. 

If you didn’t get round to it during your pregnancy then now, if people ask if there is anything they can do for you, ask them for a meal! A small wee baby is incredibly time-consuming and if you know you are able to put a healthy meal on the table at the end of the day it is one less thing to think about. Having meals prepared will help to stop extra snacking and the possibility of ordering take-out food and they are generally healthier for you.

10. Meal Planning Postpartum.

As tired and sleep-deprived as you will be, and as challenged as you will be to find a new rhythm in your life with your baby on board, this is not the time to eat junk food and take out foods. Try to be careful with your weekly shopping and don’t shop on an empty stomach or too sleep-deprived.  Maybe start practising some meal planning. Meal Planning is very different to meal prepping. Meal planning is when you decide what you are eating for the week, write a list and go shopping for the week.

The benefits of meal planning are endless but in the end, there is one less thing to think about and hopefully, you will not be caught out eating too many foods not made from home. Foods purchased outside of the home are more dense in calories, fat, sugar and salt than home-cooked meals.

11. Healthy Eating Postpartum.

Eat in a healthy manner and have high-quality snacks and proteins. Your nutrition is of paramount importance, and it is very advantageous to have good quality snacks around for the postpartum time. It is very easy to fall into the temptation of purchasing your processed snacks from the supermarket aisle. These are generally not healthy or nutritious. Planning your snacks can form part of your meal prepping prior to having your baby and meal planning postpartum. If people ask what to bring – some healthy high-protein nutrition snacks would be great to order.

12. Postpartum Weight Loss Major Tip.

Take 12 weeks off…it sounds luxurious doesn’t it – but you really need time to focus on your body and your baby. Don’t be pressured into feeling like you should have it all together and be back into your skinny jeans ASAP. Don’t be leaping into any crazy weight loss diet or exercise routines – time is your friend, and your baby is only a newborn for literally a few weeks – relax and absorb it. Take the time to plan your health and nutrition goals for now, and in the future.

Take Home Message About Postpartum Weight Loss


The key to this message is that weight loss after pregnancy can take many, many months. Postpartum weight loss should be gradual. The time after birth with a newborn is not the time to focus on your weight. It is a time to support and nourish your body with adequate rest, gentle exercise and healthy eating.

Breastfeeding – Do I Need to Eat More? 

nutrition for breastfeeding

So you are breastfeeding and everyone keeps telling you to “eat more because you are eating for two”. But is this true – do you really need to eat more if you are breastfeeding? And if you do need to eat more whilst breastfeeding, how much more? A whole meal or a snack or two or three?

Breast Milk is Amazing!

Breastmilk is an amazing substance that literally supplies your baby with all its nutritional needs for the first 6 months of your baby’s life. Breast milk is the exact ratio of nutrients and macros for your baby to reach each milestone of growth as it grows. As your baby needs slightly more nutrition for growth, your breast milk changes which is incredible.

Breastfeeding – Did You Know?

  • Your body is ready to feed your baby the moment your baby is born
  • During breastfeeding, you and your baby produce oxytocin which helps to reduce anxiety and promotes feelings of connection
  • Breastfeeding supports a healthy gut bacteria in your baby – this can help set your baby’s immune system up perfectly well for their life, which is amazing
  • Breastfeeding helps antibodies to circulate in your baby, thus allowing their immune system to fight infections

What Can I Eat When Breastfeeding?

We know that a healthy pregnancy diet includes protein-rich foods, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. You can read more about what to eat when pregnant here. Once you are breastfeeding you can generally follow the healthy diet principles that you have commenced in pregnancy or even pre-pregnant guidelines, with a few fine tunes that we discuss here.

It makes sense that as your body is making a nutrient-dense substance on-demand, (Breastmilk), that this will require more energy for your body to do this than when you are not breastfeeding. It’s the same as you need to have more energy (calories/KJ) when you are pregnant than in pre pregnancy.

If you are Breastfeeding, you will need more;
  • Energy (fuel – calories/kilojoules)
  • Calcium
  • Protein
  • Iron
  • Folate
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Iodine
  • Water
  • Just to name a few …..

How Much More Do I Need to Eat if I am Breastfeeding?

Energy for our bodies is measured as calories (cal) or kilojoules (KJ) (1 cal = 4.2 KJ). For your body to make breast milk, you need more energy (cal or KJ) to aid this process. In fact, generally speaking, you need approximately an extra 250-500 calories per day extra than in your last trimester of pregnancy if you are breastfeeding. We are all individuals and therefore at best, this is a rough estimate. However, you can monitor your baby’s weight to ascertain if your baby is receiving adequate nutrition and your own health to ensure you are consuming adequate nutrition. Always contact your doctor, nurse or lactation consultant if you are concerned about your baby’s growth and weight.

It is important to note that even though we may need a few extra calories per day whilst breastfeeding it actually does not take a lot of food to reach 250-500 calories (1050 -2090 Kj). The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) have slightly increased caloric requirements for women who are breastfeeding and recommend about 450 to 500 calories per day.

It is important that you aim to receive this small amount of extra calories by making smart, healthy, filling choices,  for example; whole grain bread with a tablespoon of peanut butter, an extra piece of fruit, and a dollop of yoghurt on your breakfast.

Mindful Eating

nutrition for newborn

You certainly do not have to measure your calories if you do not wish to. Have you ever heard of mindful eating? Part of mindful eating is the art of listening to your body’s hunger cues and then savouring and enjoying each mouthful of food. If you are able to tap into your hunger levels and respond appropriately (with a good, healthy choice) then this is generally an efficient, safe way of increasing your intake as your body needs it and providing your body with breastfeeding vitamins and nutrients. It may take a little practice, but it is actually a lifelong tool. You can pass this on to other children in your life as well as it becomes a lifelong lesson.

Does Breastfeeding Make You Hungry?

The majority of nursing mothers do say that breastfeeding does actually make them feel hungrier than normal. Just slightly increasing your food intake should satisfy both your hunger and your baby’s growing demands. Remember sometimes drinking some water can alleviate what we may think is hunger.

Do You Need to Take Supplements While Breastfeeding?

It is always best to have real food for pregnancy and for breastfeeding. However, it is really important to supplement our diets if we are unable to consume adequate calories. Some people who may be vegan, vegetarian, underweight, or have other medical conditions may require extra supplementation. This is addressed in another section of the website but it is recommended that if you have been taking prenatal vitamins or pregnancy vitamins then you should continue to take them as postnatal vitamins.

What to Avoid When Breastfeeding?

This is a good question to ask yourself, as I am sure we have all heard some old wives’ tales about what not to eat while breastfeeding. You certainly can be rest assured that you generally do not need to give up many foods, but there are some foods to avoid or limit.

Breastfeeding foods to avoid include;

  • Alcohol (more on this later) – there is no level of alcohol that is considered safe for your baby
  • Caffeine – it can affect a baby. Limit to 1-2 cups per day
  • Some seafood – choose low mercury seafood if possible
  • Deep-fried foods – generally unhealthy level of unhealthy fats in too large amounts
  • Ultra-processed foods – aim to choose fresh foods, as close to nature, as possible
  • High sugar foods – are empty energy (cal/KJ) and can lead to weight gain, diabetes, & fatigue.
  • Sugar-Sweetened drinks – are also best avoided. 

How Much Fluid Should I Have if I am Breastfeeding? 

We all need to be drinking at least 2-3 Litres of water per day, and while making breast milk we need closer to 2.5 Litres (84.5 US ounces) of water a day. Water is, of course, the best choice here but the other fluid in our diet, like tea and soups, etc also count. See the fluid section for more information. Some signs that you may be dehydrated or not getting enough fluid are dark coloured urine and if you start to suffer from constipation.

How Much Alcohol Can I Drink if I am Breastfeeding?

breastfeeding nutrition

The National Health and Medical Research Committee in Australia recommends no alcohol if you are currently breastfeeding. The American Breastfeeding Association state that there is no level of alcohol in breast milk that is actually safe for a baby. Interestingly, the concentration of alcohol in your blood is the concentration of alcohol in your milk. Alcohol quickly transfers from your blood into your breastmilk

As we know that alcohol generally clears from breastmilk in 2-3 hours, some nursing mothers can plan ahead prior to the consumption of alcohol. This would mean navigating the timing of your nursing or substituting breast milk for formula or breast pumping prior to the baby’s feed.

Everyone is an individual and it is not a direct science how each body deals with alcohol in their system, so the rate at which alcohol is cleared from our body depends on a few factors such as;

  • Your body weight
  • The type of alcohol consumed
  • How fast you are drinking over time
  • If you have eaten and
  • What you have actually eaten

Does Breastfeeding Help you Lose Weight?

A note about weight, it is important to not focus on losing weight while breastfeeding. Eat within your caloric needs and enjoy gentle exercise when you feel able to. Having too low a calorie intake will result in less breastmilk produced.

Remember to be Kind To Yourself

healthy baby

Whether you are breastfeeding or not, it is important that the food and drink you are consuming is actually providing your body with all the vitamins, minerals, and also fuel (the energy) you need to live a healthy life. If you are breastfeeding, this uses a lot more of your energy and your nutrients, so you need to increase your calories slightly so that you are actually eating enough to nourish your baby and your own body and looking after your maternal nutrition.

American Breastfeeding Association

Dietary Guidelines of Australia

NHMRC – National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia

Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025

Australian Breastfeeding Association

US department of health and Human Services – National Institute of Health