What to Eat When Breastfeeding (Ultimate Guide)

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If you have been trying to figure out what to eat when breastfeeding you have come to the right place. It can be so confusing trying to figure out what to eat to have a good milk supply and lose weight while breastfeeding. Just like during pregnancy, you need more nutrients than normal. Eating a well balanced breastfeeding diet high in protein, healthy fats and nutrients will help ensure that you are able to produce an adequate supply of breast milk for your baby.

But there are many other concerns when trying to figure out what to eat. Many mother’s are surprised that the foods they eat can affect their baby and irritate conditions like colic and infant reflux. So it’s important to consider this when figuring out what to eat while breastfeeding.

Also you may want to lose weight postpartum. For some exercising can effect milk supply. And it’s not a good idea to eat a restrictive diet while breastfeeding. So this must be considered when figuring out what to eat for milk supply and for weight loss.

Then there is the added issue of wanting to provide your baby with the best possible nutrition during their early growing phases. Which leads many moms searching for ways to optimize breast milk’s nutritional value.

While it has been thought that diet does not effect breast milk quality there is some research that shows that eating certain foods can certainly help with that.

This guide will help you figure out how to eat a balanced diet while breastfeeding, while also managing weight loss and avoiding foods that make breastfeeding harder and getting the nutrients needed for making milk. It includes:

  • an overview of breastfeeding diet requirements
  • foods that support lactation
  • foods not to eat
  • lactation recipes
  • meal ideas
  • how to make a breastfeeding meal plan so that you can eat well while breastfeeding.

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what to eat when breastfeeding

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Breastfeeding diet requirements

There are some nutrients that are needed in higher amounts while breastfeeding. While it is possible to still produce breast milk no matter what you eat, certain vitamins and nutrients can help make it easier to make milk and also make breast milk more nutritional value for your baby.

While breastfeeding you need more of these key nutrients:

  • Vitamin D
  • B vitamins
  • Choline
  • Fatty acids and DHA
  • Vitamin A
  • Iodine

Food to eat while breastfeeding

While breastfeeding there some foods that are better for helping the body to make breast milk. These foods are often referred to as lactation foods. Many of these foods increase milk supply, as well as make production easier.

It’s a good idea to base your diet around lactation foods.

The Top Lactation foods:

  • Oatmeal
  • Coconut
  • Brewer’s Yeast
  • Fenugreek
  • Fennel
  • Milk Thistle
  • Flax
  • Sweet Potato
  • Pumpkin

There are many other foods that are also beneficial for breastfeeding moms and can help boost milk supply. These foods can help add vital nutrients needed for breast milk production to your diet.

Other foods that are beneficial to breastfeeding moms:

All of these foods offer high nutrients needed for both Mom and baby during this critical time of development and post partum healing.

  • Eggs
  • Bone broth
  • Fatty fish – salmon, herring
  • Berries
  • kale, spinach
  • Nuts

The important thing is to not to limit or restrict yourself when it comes to eating while breastfeeding. Making breast milk requires a lot of energy. So it’s natural during this time to want more to eat, take more to fill up and want to eat more often.

This quote from Lily Nichols, Nutritionist and Mom sums up a good approach to breastfeeding diet.

It’s about self-care and nourishment, not deprivation and punishment.

Lily Nichols

In addition to lactation foods you also need higher levels of protein while breastfeeding. It’s recommended that breastfeeding moms consume between 65-75 g of protein daily.

Eating more protein can help you stay full longer and increase metabolism, which is good for weight loss. Protein is also vital for cell growth and repair, as well as building muscle for both Mom and baby.

Ways to get more protein while breastfeeding

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Black Beans
  • Lentils
  • Tuna
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Eggs
  • Hemp seeds
  • Quinoa

Focusing on nourishment, rather than restricting will help to provide the nutrition you need while breastfeeding.

What Not to Eat while Breastfeeding

These are some foods that are not recommended while breastfeeding.

  • trans fats – partially hydrogenated oil (commonly known on food labels)
  • high sugar foods
  • caffeine
  • alcohol

There are a few foods to avoid when breastfeeding that can contribute to things like colic, eczema, and acid reflux in your infant. If you have a baby struggling with one of these issues, it may help to eliminate certain foods for a time to see if their condition improves.

Some common foods and herbs are know to decrease milk supply. Moderating or avoiding these foods will ensure that you don’t inadvertently sabotage your milk supply.

So while you shouldn’t be restrictive, it’s important to be aware of the foods that can affect your milk supply both for production and what you are passing to baby in terms of milk quality. These foods can be moderated or replaced with breastfeeding friendly alternatives.

The good news is that as your baby’s digestive system matures, it will get easier and they will be less sensitive to various foods so you will not have to alter your diet. This usually happens between 6 to 9 months. Until then try to focus on what you can eat.

What to eat while breastfeeding?

You need an extra 500 calories day while breastfeeding. However, don’t worry about counting calories or measuring food while breastfeeding.

It’s best to eat 3 meals a day plus 2-3 snacks in between.

Eat as much of good food – this means proteins, vegetables and lactation foods – as you want until you feel satisfied. And avoid the foods that aren’t good for you as much as possible.

Try to make well balanced breastfeeding meals that center around protein with lots of vegetables and healthy carbs on the side.

When searching for recipes, look under the categories of Paleo, Whole 30, Keto or Dairy Free. There are also many breastfeeding friendly lactation recipes now available to choose from.

What are lactation recipes?

Lactation recipes are meals and snacks that include ingredients that boost milk supply and are specifically made to support the nutritional needs of breastfeeding moms. They may also be referred to as breastfeeding recipes.

Many lactation recipes are made specifically with breastfeeding moms in mind, while others simply contain a variety of lactation foods as ingredients thus making them ideal for eating while nursing.

However, you still need to check ingredients with these recipes as some may contain dairy, gluten, high amounts of sugar or other processed ingredients you may want to avoid.

Our Favorite Lactation Recipes

Here are some easy to make lactation recipes that you can try. These all contain real food, clean ingredients, and are gluten, soy and dairy free.

No Bake Chocolate Lactation Bars Recipe – tasty no bake granola bars with coconut oil for healthy fats, oatmeal, flax and chia seeds for milk supply. Makes a great snack or treat before bed.

no bake lactation bars

Pumpkin Lactation Muffins Recipe – pumpkin is a great food for milk supply. These muffins also use date fruit instead of sugar for sweetness. Excellent for breakfast or a snack. Customize with your favorite toppings.

lactation pumpkin muffins

Milk Making Lactation Granola – a healthy twist on lactation granola sweetened with maple syrup. Made with oatmeal, coconut oil, shredded coconut, and walnuts with lots of ways to customize!

Healthy Pumpkin Lactation Bread – makes a great breakfast or snack. It’s loaded with milk making ingredients and is a healthier version of most pumpkin breads you will find. Goes great with a cup of lactation tea!

Healthy Lactation Cookies Recipe – these cookies won’t sabotage your diet! They are low in sugar and made with coconut oil and gluten free flour. Plus chocolate chips and walnuts for extra yumminess. Make a double batch of these, they go fast! Or pre mix this Lactation Cookie Mix in a Jar to make the next batch easier.

Pumpkin Lactation Cookies – a tasty lactation cookie recipe perfect for Fall! These cookies are loaded with milk making goodness plus the flavors of pumpkin spice and cranberries.

Love pumpkin too? It’s great for milk supply. Check out more Healthy Pumpkin Breastfeeding Recipes for every meal.

Check out our Pinterest board for the BEST lactation recipes!

What to eat for dinner when breastfeeding

Dinner can be a big headache for many breastfeeding moms. By the end of the day after caring for and feeding a baby, the last thing you want to do is cook. And it always seems like baby wants to eat just when it’s time to make dinner.

But it’s important to have nourishment to replenish your energy stores, and also to feed the rest of your family.

So, use all the short cuts you can during this time. These tips for meal prep for busy moms can help. When possible use the slow cooker or instant pot for making meals. Or make easy sheet pan dinners. This will save a lot of time and energy in the kitchen.

Check out these dinner ideas for breastfeeding moms that are easy to make and contain breastfeeding friendly foods.

Another good dinner to make while breastfeeding is soup. It provides lots of nourishment and can be made relatively easily in the crock pot or instant pot. Try these breastfeeding soup recipes for dinner.

Many Moms find it helpful to prep dinners ahead. Making breastfeeding freezer meals can be extremely helpful during this time. Taking an hour or 2 to prep freezer meals can mean that you don’t have to worry about cooking during the week. Simply put your frozen meal in the slow cooker in the morning and have food ready at dinner time.

Drinks for breastfeeding

Staying hydrated is super important for having an adequate milk supply. After all breast milk is made up of about 80% water.

Aim to drink around 100oz of fluids everyday. That’s about 12 – 8 oz glasses of water.

There are many breastfeeding drinks that can help you make more milk. Including 1-2 of these drinks daily can really make a difference in the amount of milk your produce. Plus they help you stay hydrated.

Lactation tea is another good source for hydration and nutrition which can also give you a milk supply boost. Read out guide to the best lactation teas here.

Having a variety of breastfeeding drinks to choose from will ensure that you are drinking enough liquids, but also help encourage milk production.

Check out our favorite breastfeeding drink recipes below!

The Ultimate Lactation Smoothie Recipe – a tasty way to increase your milk supply, boost energy, nutrition and promote postpartum healing. Includes milk boosters plus chocolate and strawberries!

best lactation smoothie with strawberry and chocolate

Lactation Latte Recipe with Green Tea – A delicious warm breastfeeding drink that can help you make more breast milk. If you are missing your latte, try this one!

lactation latte with Milk Dust

Pumpkin oatmeal smoothie (to boost milk supply) – with pumpkin and oatmeal this lactation smoothie is sure to help your milk supply. The flavors of pumpkin spice are good all year long!

Snacks when breastfeeding

Snacking and eating in between meals is necessary for many breastfeeding moms to get enough calories to keep milk supply up. Eating snacks while nursing can also help keep energy up and balance blood sugar spikes.

This list of breastfeeding snacks has ideas that combine protein and fat and are all low in sugar, and can all be purchased online.

If you prefer to make your breastfeeding snacks, check out this Homemade Breastfeeding Snacks Cookbook.

It’s also good to have some healthy breastfeeding treats for late night snacks and when you have a sweet tooth. Just make sure you are using healthy sweeteners and combining healthy fats and protein when you indulge. If you do this you don’t have to feel guilty about eating treats.

How to make breastfeeding meal plan

Once you figure out all the food options and recipes for breastfeeding, it’s a good idea to make a breastfeeding meal plan. This can help you map out what you are going to eat when. It can also help you remember to eat while caring for baby.

A breastfeeding meal plan should include breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, and a late night snack or treat.

To keep it easy, pick 2-3 recipes and repeat for breakfast and lunch. Then choose a instant pot or crock pot recipe for dinner.

Make sure to plan for snacks and drinks as well.

After making the plan and grocery shopping, taking some time to meal prep while breastfeeding can be really helpful. Consider make ahead breakfasts, snacks and freezer meals so that you can have quick options whenever it’s too hard to put the baby down or you haven’t gotten much sleep.

Look at your life and schedule and plan accordingly. If it’s hard to get out bed in the morning make sure to make overnight oats or one of these make ahead breakfast recipes to freeze.

Having a breastfeeding meal plan gives you options so that you know that you will be eating well.

Download a copy of our free breastfeeding meal plan below!

Make sure to sign up for our email list below so that you can get healthy breastfeeding diet tips delivered to your inbox and to get your free printable!

printable breastfeeding meal plan

Food to eat while breastfeeding to lose weight

So many moms want to know how to lose weight while breastfeeding. Exercising uses up the same energy that it takes to make breast milk so it important to be mindful when starting a weight loss program when breastfeeding to find a balance.

Here are a few of best programs we have come across.

Resources to help lose weight while breastfeeding

Milky Mamas – a nutrition plan with workouts for when the baby weight isn’t coming off. Recipes to help keep milk supply up plus workouts based on Pilates and yoga.

Postpartum Ab Rehab – a step by step plan to heal your tummy after baby created by a Physical Therapist and Mom of 4.

Postpartum Cure – this online course includes an app, workout videos and recipes all designed specifically for the needs of postpartum moms. It includes a diet meal plan to help lose weight and keep up your milk supply.

What to eat to produce more milk

If you are struggling with low supply and trying to figure out how to produce more milk it can be really frustrating. These are our most recommended products to increase breast milk production.

Lactation protein powder

Drinking a lactation protein shake or smoothie is one of the easiest ways to boost milk supply quickly. It contains a combination of foods and herbs that increase milk supply plus all the nutrients needed for breastfeeding in a day.

It’s an excellent way to get additional protein and nutrients that you may deficient in.

The best lactation protein powders that contain high quality ingredients are:

  • Milk Dust – is great for boosting milk supply and also contains nutrition boosting ingredients like spirulina and chlorella., and a special weight loss formula. Try Milk Dust here.
  • Majka – is fenugreek free and free of added sweeteners. It’s features a unique blend of lactation boosters, greens, and probiotics to help milk supply and provide nutritional needs. Try Majka here.

To boost milk supply drink 1-2 shakes or smoothies with lactation protein powder a day to increase milk supply in addition to a balanced breastfeeding diet as discussed above.

More Breastfeeding Resources

Best Breastfeeding Tips for First Time Moms

FREE Printable Breastfeeding Log

The Ultimate Back to Work Pumping Class

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