Breast-feeding nutrition: Tips for moms

Breast-feeding nutrition can be confusing. How much should you eat? What should you avoid? How might your diet affect your baby? Follow these important nutrition tips. By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you're breast-feeding, you're giving your baby nutrients that will promote his or her growth and health. You might have questions, however, about what foods and drinks are best for you — and how your diet might affect your breast milk and your baby.

Understand the basics of breast-feeding nutrition.

Do I need extra calories while breast-feeding?

Yes, you might need to eat a little more — about an additional 400 to 500 calories a day — to keep up your energy.

To get these extra calories, opt for nutrient-rich choices, such as a slice of whole-grain bread with a tablespoon (about 16 grams) of peanut butter, a banana or apple, and 8 ounces (about 227 grams) of fat-free yogurt.

What foods should I eat while breast-feeding?

There's no need to go on a special diet while breast-feeding your baby. Instead, focus on making healthy choices to help fuel your milk production.

Opt for a variety of whole grains as well as fruits and vegetables. Wash your fruits and vegetables to reduce exposure to pesticide residue.

Eating a variety of different foods while breast-feeding will change the flavor of your breast milk. This will expose your baby to different tastes, which might help him or her more easily accept solid foods down the road.

To make sure you and your baby are getting all of the vitamins you need, your health care provider might recommend continuing to take a daily prenatal vitamin until you wean your baby.

How much fluid do I need while breast-feeding?

It's important for breast-feeding moms to stay hydrated. Be sure to drink frequently, preferably before you feel thirsty, and to drink more if your urine appears dark yellow.

Have a glass of water nearby when you breast-feed your baby — or aim to drink at least eight glasses of water or other liquids a day.

Be wary of juices and sugary drinks, however. Too much sugar can contribute to weight gain — or sabotage your efforts to lose pregnancy weight.

Too much caffeine can be troublesome, too. Limit yourself to no more than 2 to 3 cups (16 to 24 ounces) of caffeinated drinks a day. Caffeine in your breast milk might agitate your baby or interfere with your baby's sleep.

May. 25, 2012 See more In-depth