How Your Diet Affects Your Breastmilk

When you are breastfeeding or providing your baby with expressed
breastmilk, your body makes producing a sufficient supply of milk
its number one priority. Eating a well-balanced diet will ensure
that both you and your baby are receiving adequate nutrition.
Maintaining the same healthy diet that you followed during your
pregnancy will most likely be suitable while you are breastfeeding as well.

diet facts

Studies have shown that a breastfeeding mother’s diet affects the quantity of the milk that her body produces more so than it directly affects the quality of her milk. The quality of breastmilk amongst breastfeeding mothers who eat a healthy, well-balanced diet is quite consistent.

While not a comprehensive list of foods to avoid while breastfeeding, the following few guidelines can help you ensure that your diet is healthy enough to produce an adequate supply of breastmilk for your child.

Fluids

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to drink milk in order to produce milk. You will be able to give your baby nutrient rich milk whether you drink cow’s milk or not, but staying properly hydrated while you are lactating is important. Breastfeeding and pumping moms should be sure to drink enough fluids to quench your thirst throughout the day since much of your fluid intake will go toward the production of milk.

Junk food

Although you may crave sweets and other junk foods, you should keep in mind that they provide mostly empty calories and very little nutrition. Swearing off sweets and other junk foods completely is not necessary, but choosing healthy snack options will provide you with more energy and benefit your overall health more.

Food Allergies

If you or other members of your family have a history of certain food allergies you may need to adjust your diet accordingly since many foods will be passed through your breastmilk. The most common food allergens that are passed through breastmilk include peanuts, cow’s milk, soy and strawberries.

Caffeine

Consuming more than a moderate amount of caffeine each day may agitate your baby and make it difficult for him or her to sleep. Two cups of coffee or two soft drinks a day is considered a moderate intake of caffeine.

Alcohol

While only small amounts of alcohol are passed into breastmilk, it is best to avoid alcohol while breastfeeding. However, you may enjoy an occasional drink as long as you won’t be breastfeeding right after. Discuss any use of alcohol while breastfeeding with your doctor prior to consumption.

Cigarettes

If you haven’t already quit smoking, now is the time to do so since nicotine and other harmful chemicals found in cigarettesare passed directly into breastmilk. Although not smoking at all is the best option for both you and your baby, cutting down on the number of cigarettes that you smoke each day is also beneficial.

Weight Loss

Regaining your pre-pregnancy figure is a great goal to have, but going on a weight loss program that placing restrictions on your daily food intake can decrease your milk supply. One of the perks to breastfeeding (or pumping) is that your body will need an additional 200 to 500 calories each day to produce breastmilk. This extra calorie burning can help you lose your pregnancy weight with minimal effort on your part. Be sure to speak with your doctor before starting a weight loss program.

While you are lactating, you should not ignore signs of hunger or thirst because doing so could negatively affect your milk supply. Remember that eating a healthy well-balanced diet at this time is beneficial to both you and your child.

Return to: Breast Pumping Basics

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