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Nutrition While Breastfeeding

Do I need a special diet for breastfeeding?

You  don't have to eat a special diet to make enough milk for your baby. Your milk will be of good quality for your baby regardless of what you eat. But your body needs fuel to make breastmilk. So eat your fill of a variety of foods. Breastfeeding isn’t an excuse to eat and drink everything you want. But it’s not a reason to avoid favorite foods either. 

Woman eating salad.

Healthy diet for a new mother

A healthy diet is recommended for all women and offers many benefits to a new mother. Choosing a variety of healthy foods creates a pattern for the entire family. Each family member benefits. Women who are breastfeeding need about 500 extra calories per day. Some women might need more, while others might need less. When choosing foods, use the nutrition chart below as a guide.

Bread, cereal, rice, and pasta



Milk, yogurt, and cheese

Meat, poultry, fish,

dry beans, eggs, and nuts

Fats, oils, and sweets

(use sparingly)

What’s good for you?

Here are some things to do:

  • Drink fluids when you feel thirsty. There is no specific amount of water you need to drink to make enough milk.

  • Follow healthy eating guidelines.

  • Snack on fruit or low-fat dairy products if you’re hungry between meals.

  • If your healthcare provider recommends it, keep taking prenatal vitamins.

  • Get plenty of rest.

What’s not good for you?

Here are other things to consider:

  • Limit fatty foods and foods that are high in sugar (cookies, cakes).

  • Be aware that what enters your body may pass into your breastmilk. Limit caffeine. It's not just in coffee. It's also in cola, tea, and chocolate.

  • Limit the amount of fish that may contain mercury, such as tuna and swordfish.

  • Talk with your healthcare provider before taking any medicines. It's important to let your healthcare provider know that you are nursing. Some medicines are not safe with breastfeeding.

  • Remember: Alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs pass into your breastmilk and can be unsafe for your baby. Talk with your healthcare provider if you are using alcohol, smoking, or using drugs.

Online Medical Reviewer: Donna Freeborn PhD CNM FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Heather Trevino
Online Medical Reviewer: Michele Burtner CNM
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2021
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