The Breastfeeding Diet: How Food Affects Your Milk

What you consume while breastfeeding matters! Here's a look at how what you eat can affect everything from the taste and smell to even the color of your breast milk.

Did you know the flavor of your breast milk can change depending on the food or beverages you consume? Your baby may be hesitant to nurse if your breast milk's flavor changes drastically after garlic or spicy foods. See our guidance below on foods to avoid while breastfeeding as you consider your postpartum breastfeeding diet, what to eat, and what not to eat.

What You Consume While Breastfeeding Matters

Your diet and breast milk are closely intertwined, so what you put into your body on a daily basis can affect your breast milk as well as your little one's feeding habits. Check out these tips to make sure you stay on track and give your body all it needs to nourish you and your baby.

Foods to Eat While Breastfeeding

While you had to watch your food choices closely during pregnancy, breastfeeding allows for a larger range of foods and fewer restrictions. That said, keep eating your rainbow of fruits and veggies and a variety of healthy foods from all food groups. Ensuring these things are incorporated into your breastfeeding diet will benefit you and your baby with nutrients and energy. Bonus - the varying tastes of your breast milk may even help your baby be a less picky eater in the future!

Don't Count Calories

Breastfeeding burns 300 to 500 calories a day, so you’re probably feeling hungry more often when nursing. Because of the calories you're already burning, now’s not the time to crash-diet yourself back to your pre-pregnancy weight. Feed your body what it needs and don’t worry about the calories. Your body needs them to continue making that liquid gold for your little one.

Stay Hydrated

Water, water everywhere – and you should be drinking it! Your body needs hydration to support your energy, health, and general well-being. So, make sure you keep water bottles stashed at your nursing station or around the house where they’re easily accessible, and remind yourself to sip throughout the day.

Limit Caffeine While Breastfeeding

We get it! You’re a mom and you are exhausted! If you’re reaching for your coffee mug or an energy drink as part of your daily routine, be sure to limit your caffeine intake to 500 mg a day (about three 8-ounce cups of regular coffee or three and a half 16-ounce energy drinks, but confirm by verifying caffeine on ingredient labels). This is because some sensitive babies may become extra fussy or wakeful if caffeine is present in the breast milk they drink.

Be Aware of Baby's Potential Food Sensitivities

You may notice fussiness or gassiness in your baby after you consume certain foods such as dairy, soy, or wheat. Keeping a food journal to track the reactions as you eliminate or add back in foods can help to pinpoint the culprit in your diet and breast milk.

Drinking Alcohol Can Affect Your Breast Milk

It’s important to be fully informed when making your decision about if and how much alcohol you’ll have while breastfeeding. Most professional sources suggest a limit of 1-2 drinks per week, and only consuming 8 ounces of wine or 2 beers in one sitting. If you do partake, it’s recommended to wait at least 2 hours before breastfeeding.

The Impact of Medications and Herbs on Breast Milk

Many over-the-counter medications and prescriptions are considered safe to take while breastfeeding, but it’s always better to be cautious and first talk to your healthcare provider before taking any new medications. If you’re taking herbs or other natural remedies, keep in mind that just because it’s natural doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe. Again, confirm with your healthcare provider first to ensure whatever you’re ingesting won’t negatively impact your breast milk supply, or your baby.

You're putting in the effort to give your baby the perfect food – breast milk – and taking care of what you eat can ensure that you are both happy, healthy, and thriving on your breastfeeding journey.

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