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 good quality for your baby no matter what you eat. But your body needs fuel to make breastmilk. People who are breastfeeding need about 500 extra calories per day. Some people might need more. Other people might need less. So eat your fill of a variety of healthy foods.

Woman eating salad.

A healthy diet

A healthy diet is important for all people who are nursing and offers many benefits to a new parent. When choosing foods, use the chart below as a guide.

Bread, cereal, rice, and pasta

Vegetables

Fruit

Milk, yogurt, and cheese

Meat, poultry, fish,

dry beans, eggs, and nuts

Fats, oils, and sweets

(in small amounts)

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 foods 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. This includes foods like cookies and 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 you eat that may contain mercury. This includes 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. Talk with your healthcare provider if you are using alcohol, smoking, or using drugs. They want to help you and your baby be as healthy as possible.

© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.