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Nutrition for the Breastfeeding Mom

Vanessa T.
VANESSA T.
Pediatric Dietitian
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Did you know that what's on your plate can impact your supply and your baby? Learn more with today's Q&A, led by Registered Dietitian, Vanessa Thornton.

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VANESSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Calorie intake
HAILIE, PARENT OF 2 YEAR OLD, 22 MONTH OLD

I've been told that the amount if calories you need while breastfeeding is greater than if you weren't breastfeeding. Right now, I don't have a HUGE appetite and when I do I usually just snack. My question is, if I'm still getting the right amount of calories, is it a terrible thing that it's not necessarily the healthiest of foods?

Vanessa
VANESSA

Hi Hallie,

Really good question! As you probably well know, your body is an amazing thing and is very good at producing exactly what your baby needs. This includes getting the right balance of carbohydrates, fats, proteins and most vitamins and minerals. Because your body does such a good job, your diet actually isn’t that important as long as you are getting enough calories and drinking plenty of fluids.

That being said, a healthy diet can help you feel your best, have more energy and keep your immune system working to protect you and baby. Eating right will also help you gradually lose the baby weight and avoid weight gain once you’re weaning off breast feeding. I usually recommend continuing your prenatal vitamins while breast feeding to cover your basis and doing your best to eat a good amount of fruits, veggies, health fats (olive oil, nuts, avocado, etc) and lean proteins.

If you need help coming up with ideas, just let me know!

VANESSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
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JOSH, PARENT OF 22 MONTH OLD

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Vanessa
VANESSA

Hi Josh,

Your message came through just fine for me. Let me know if you have questions. Thanks!

JOSH

Thanks, how do you delete old posts?

VANESSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Weight loss while breastfeeding
NOELLE, PARENT OF 7 YEAR OLD, 5 YEAR OLD, 22 MONTH OLD

What's the best way to try to lose weight while breastfeeding? I gave birth to my third about 3 weeks ago... I'm not in any particular hurry, and want to be sure to establish a good supply before cutting calories at all. However, with my prior two, I always held onto an extra 10 lbs or so until I weaned around 9 mo, but part of that was because I don't think I really tried too hard to lose the weight prior to then :) . This time around, I'd really like to shed the weight a bit sooner. Any tips/ do's and don'ts would be greatly appreciated.

Vanessa
VANESSA

Hi Noelle,

Congrats on the newest addition to your family! Getting back to your pre-pregnancy weight can be a little tricky, but if you keep it simple and focus on nourishing you and your baby, the weight will fall off naturally.

The first thing to keep in mind is that it took you 9 months to gain all of that weight. Even though you drop weight quickly in the beginning, it is natural for the rate of weight loss to slow down once you leave the hospital. Your body will use your fat stores to fuel milk production, leading to weight loss. Give yourself the time to lose it in a safe, natural way. I would NOT recommend dieting, purposefully restricting calories or trying to jump back into an intense exercise regimen if you weren't doing this prior.

That being said, many women (myself included!) feel even more hungry than they did during pregnancy. This combined with sleep deprivation, limited time and the extra congratulatory sweets around the house and can lead to lots of calories coming from extra sugar and fat. The best way to help along the weight loss process postpartum is to focus on your choices- grab a quick yogurt instead of a donut in the morning. Throw steamed veggies in the microwave instead of a frozen pizza. Eat fruit instead of cupcakes for dessert. Ask friends and family to bring over healthy options like fresh fruit, natural nut butters, raw trail mixes and pre-made salads. Consider splurging on a grocery delivery service so you always have a fresh supply of healthy options and, whatever you do, don't go to the grocery store hungry! ;)

Your body needs somewhere between 300-500 extra calories per day in order to keep up your breast milk supply for a total of somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500 for most women-- this target is meant to help you lactate and gradually lose the baby weight. Honor this need and make sure you eat some extra snacks throughout the day, but focus on high protein, low fat, no added sugar options to avoid gaining more and help that stubborn last 10 pounds slowly melt away.

If you need ideas for healthy meals and snacks on-the-go, just let me know!

NOELLE

Thanks! This is really helpful. All of the sugary treats around the house are killer - I need to get rid of those!

VANESSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
What kind of food should I eat
LETICIA, PARENT OF 23 MONTH OLD

I've been eating alot more lately because I'm so hungry and notice of I don't eat enough there is not enough milk supply like I'm used to pumping but is there food to help my hunger and boost milk

Vanessa
VANESSA

Hi Leticia,

Don't worry-- it is natural to feel very hungry while breastfeeding because your body needs 300-500 extra calories every day to keep producing milk. The hard part can be trying to find the time to get those calories in while you are busy caring for an infant!

There are some foods that some people claim increase milk supply, but the research on this is limited. Some of these foods you could try are oatmeal, flax seed, garlic and spinach.

/>In general, if you try to eat good sources of protein and fiber at every meal and snack, you should be getting enough calories and help quiet your hunger. Protein is in all animal foods (meat, eggs, milk and other dairy foods like yogurt), beans, tofu and soy, avocados, nuts, peanuts and peanut butter, and even some grains like quinoa. Fiber is in whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat breads and pastas), fruits and vegetables (but not juices). Here's a sample of protein + fiber pairings throughout the day to get you started:

Breakfast: oatmeal made with milk, topped with berries (frozen are fine!) and nuts
Snack:A low-fat latte (if you're brave enough to leave the house) or a yogurt with a banana
Lunch: Turkey sandwich with cheese, avocado, lettuce and tomato. Whole grain pretzels on the side
Snack: Carrots with hummus or guacamole
Dinner: Grilled chicken, steamed spinach with garlic and a drizzle of olive oil, quinoa
Snack: Apple with peanut butter

The most important thing you can do to maintain your supply is simply to EAT! Try not to skip any meals-- even if you are just grabbing a piece of fruit and a granola bar on-the-go, eat something so your body can feel satisfied and fuel your breastfeeding goals.

LETICIA

Thank you