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 mothers are surprised that the foods they eat can affect their baby and irritate conditions like colic and infant reflux. So its 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 its 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 milks 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:

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what to eat when breastfeeding

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While you are here, check out all our healthy recipes for Moms.

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 give your 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

Best Foods 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.

Its a good idea to base your diet around lactation foods.

The Top Lactation foods:

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 limit or restrict yourself when it comes to eating while breastfeeding. Making breast milk requires a lot of energy. So its 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.

Its 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. Its 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
  • Protein shakes

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, gas, 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 known to decrease milk supply. While there are other foods to avoid while breastfeeding to prevent a gassy baby. Moderating or avoiding these foods will ensure that you dont inadvertently sabotage your milk supply, or irritate your babys sensitive digestive system.

So while you shouldnt be restrictive, its 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.

Caffeine while breastfeeding is a good example. While you can consume it safely, you and/or your baby may experience side effects so its best to moderate and watch for signs such as acid reflux. Lactation teas are a good alternative.

The good news is that as your babys 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?

Now that we know the best foods to eat while nursing, lets figure out how to eat those foods.

You need an extra 500 calories day while breastfeeding. However, dont worry about counting calories or measuring food while breastfeeding!

Its 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 arent 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. Following a breastfeeding meal plan can make eating so much easier.

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 free, soy free 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!

Apple Pie Lactation Bites - delicious and easy to make one handed snack for breastfeeding. These lactation bites have oatmeal, coconut and flax to help support milk supply.

Healthy Pumpkin Lactation Bread - makes a great breakfast or snack. Its 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 wont 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? Its great for milk supply. Check out more Healthy Pumpkin Breastfeeding Recipes for every meal.

Peanut Butter Lactation Cookies Recipe - peanut butter is full of nutrients and protein making it great for breastfeeding moms. This version includes oatmeal and flax for milk supply and maple syrup instead of refined sugar for a unique twist of the classic cookie.

Banana Blueberry Lactation Muffins - this recipe for lactation muffins is a must try. Makes a delicious soft muffin that helps milk supply and is great for snacking or make ahead breakfast. Its dairy free and gluten free too.

Lactation Oatmeal Recipe (blueberry + coconut) - super power packed oatmeal recipe for breastfeeding with blueberries, walnuts, and a yummy combo of foods that boost milk supply makes a awesome breakfast.

Lactation Overnight Oats - 5 recipes for breastfeeding overnight oats to help keep the milk flowing. These are easy to make ahead for a quick breakfast without having to cook, or even as a snack. These are a MUST TRY for nursing moms.

Banana Lactation Muffins Recipe - Super easy to make recipe for Lactation banana muffins that are moist, delicous plus gluten free and dairy free. Love these for a healthy breastfeeding snack.

Lactation Banana Bread Recipe - a simple one bowl recipe for healthy lactation quick bread. We cut the sugar, added milk boosters and made a gluten free, dairy free banana bread youll make over and over again.

Oatmeal Cookies for Breastfeeding - the best lactation oatmeal cookies made without brewers yeast also have raisins, shredded coconut, flax and chia to boost milk supply. Gluten free and dairy free too.

Follow 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 its time to make dinner.

But its 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.

This chicken soup recipe for breastfeeding is awesome for helping to get the breast milk flowing.

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 dont 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.

This fenugreek chicken recipe is a great one to make for dinner in big batches and eat through out the week. The fenugreek helps to increase milk supply. The leftovers are great for lunch too.

You may want to consider sushi for dinner as it contains lots of nutrition. As long as you follow a few guidelines for eating sushi while breastfeeding, its a good meal option.

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 100 oz of fluids everyday. Thats 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 our 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, and 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!

Green Lactation Smoothie (with Blueberry + Mango) - a fruity green lactation smoothie to help boost milk supply and nutrition while breastfeeding.

Banana Lactation Smoothie Recipe - an ultra creamy lactation smoothie made with coconut milk to help fatten breast milk and increase milk supply.

Atole Recipe for Breastfeeding - this warm breastfeeding drink is traditionally served to nursing mothers in Mexico. This atole de avena recipe is made from rolled oats making it the perfect milk boosting drink during the postpartum period.

Atole de Avena Recipe for Breastfeeding

Check out a mega list of the best smoothies for breastfeeding (on Pinterest)!

Lactation 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.

If you have no time or energy to bake with a new baby and would rather buy your lactation snacks, check out our favorites here:

Its 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 dont have to feel guilty about eating treats.

How to make a breastfeeding meal plan

Once you figure out all the food options and recipes for breastfeeding, its 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 to repeat for breastfeeding breakfast and lunch. Then choose an instant pot or crock pot recipes 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 its too hard to put the baby down or you havent gotten much sleep.

These lactation smoothie freezer packs are a great breastfeeding meal prep to do weekly.

Look at your life and schedule and plan accordingly.

If its 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.

Following these simple breastfeeding diet tips can really help clean up your diet so that you are getting nourishment, but also eating right for weight loss.

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 isnt 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 protein shake while breastfeeding, or lactation 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.

Its 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. Its 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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