Nutrition and Breastfeeding {Tips from a Touro Dietician}

Disclosure :: World Breastfeeding Week is recognized August 1 – 7, 2015. This year, World Breastfeeding Weekcalls for concerted global action to support women to combine breastfeeding and work. Whether a woman is working in the formal, non-formal or home setting, it is necessary that she is empowered in claiming her and her baby’s right to breastfeed. Our World Breastfeeding Week series is sponsored by Touro Infirmary.

wbw2015-logo-mProper nutrition during pregnancy is something that is reiterated over and over again during your nine months carrying baby, but the importance of eating well does not end after baby is delivered – especially if breast feeding. Breastfeeding nutrition can be confusing. How much should you eat? What foods/beverages should you avoid? How does your diet affect baby? I hope these tips provide some guidance and clarity in helping breastfeeding moms stay healthy and provide the best nutrition possible for both themselves and baby.


If you’ve had a previous child, you will remember how thirsty you were immediately following delivery and throughout your recovery. Those coveted hospital mugs can’t be filled fast enough! Hydration remains important the entire time you are breastfeeding. Hydration is essential and especially helpful in increasing milk supply. Remember to drink to avoid thirst.


World-Breastfeeding-week600X400In general, you should listen to your body and eat to appetite – this is usually all you need to do to get the calories you need. When exclusively nursing a young baby, it is very common to feel hungry much of the time.

Studies have shown that most healthy breastfeeding women maintain an abundant milk supply while consuming 1,800-2,200 (or more) calories per day. While many new mothers are anxious to drop their “baby weight,” be careful of extreme dieting or not consuming enough to maintain a healthy milk supply. You need to maintain a healthy diet full of nutrition foods to provide the best nutrition for your baby. Remember, the most important thing is to listen to your body and eat when hungry. It is also important to know the difference in bring hungry and having a craving.

Dietary Recommendations

Healthy foods help fuel your production of milk. Choose protein-rich foods, such as lean meat, eggs, beans and lentils. Try to incorporate plenty of clean carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables into your diet. Quality fats are also important components of a balanced diet. Try adding healthy oils, nuts, grass-fed butter and avocado. When possible, shop organic or local (in-season) and aim for a variety of nutrients and colors.

Your health care provider might recommend that you continue taking a daily prenatal vitamin to make sure you’re getting all of the vitamins you need. Speak with your doctor or a certified lactation consultant about other supplements that may help increase milk supply such as herbal supplements and nutritional yeast.

Dietary Restrictions

There are obvious foods and beverages that you should avoid or limit while breastfeeding:

  • Alcohol: No level of alcohol in breast milk is safe for a baby. If you drink, avoid breast-feeding until the alcohol has completely cleared your breast milk. This typically takes two to three hours for 12 ounces (355 milliliters) of 5 percent beer, 5 ounces (148 milliliters) of 11 percent wine or 1.5 ounces (44 milliliters) of 40 percent liquor, depending on your body weight. Pumping and dumping doesn’t speed the elimination of alcohol from your body. (source :: Mayo Clinic)
  • Caffeine: Avoid drinking 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.
  • Fish: Seafood can be a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids; however, be aware that seafood may contain mercury or other contaminants.

Allergic reactions and irritants

Certain foods or drinks in your diet could cause your baby to become irritable or have an allergic reaction. If your baby becomes fussy or develops a rash, diarrhea or congestion soon after nursing, consult your baby’s pediatrician. Some find it helpful to keep a food diary if you think something in your diet may be irritating your baby. Let your baby guide you and watch for obvious behavior changes.

Interested in learning more?

Join Touro for our FREE Healthy Mom, Health Baby Series: Prenatal Nutrition & Postnatal Nutrition Classes. For upcoming dates and to register, visit Touro’s events page on their website.

Sources: and Mayo Clinic

About Julie Fortenberry, RD, LDN

JulieJulie Fortenberry is a registered dietitian at Touro Infirmary. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Southern Mississippi. Julie believes that lifestyle changes and wholesome nutrition are obtainable, and brings real-life understanding to wellness and nutritional counseling.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here