New parents often have many questions when it comes to breastfeeding, including what mom should or should not eat. In addition to a protein intake recommendation of 71g per day, which is around 25g more than non-breastfeeding women, breastfeeding women have an increased caloric need of 450-500 calories per day. Lactating mothers should continue to take their prenatal vitamins when breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding mothers should have an average daily intake of 200-300mg of DHA to ensure adequate DHA in the breast milk. DHA is important to support brain and eye development. Eating 1-2 portions of fish per week can achieve these values. Nursing mothers should limit the amount of high mercury fish they eat. This is the same as limiting high mercury fish when pregnant.
Generally, lactating mothers do not need to limit or avoid certain foods when breastfeeding. The only exception to this is limiting the intake of high mercury fish. Otherwise, nursing mothers can eat whatever foods they would like. Unpasteurized cheese and raw fish do not pose additional risk to nursing mothers or their infants. If your little one is diagnosed with a specific food intolerance by your pediatrician, that food should be avoided completely while continuing to breastfeed. If there is no allergy diagnosis, avoiding highly allergenic foods such as peanut and tree nuts is not recommended for breastfeeding mothers. There is no evidence that restricted diets prevent the development of allergies in babies.
Other top questions:
Can You Drink Caffeine While Breastfeeding?
Caffeine does pass into the breast milk. Most breastfeeding mothers can drink moderate amounts of caffeinated beverages without it affecting their infants. The AAP defines moderate caffeine intake as 2-3 cups of caffeinated beverages per day. However, the way in which an infant will react to caffeine in the maternal milk can be variable. Some little ones are more sensitive to caffeine than others. If you notice your little one is jittery, irritable or not sleeping well after you drink caffeine, it is best to limit your intake.
Can You Eat Honey while Breastfeeding?
It is safe for nursing mothers to eat honey. Honey should not be given directly to children under age 1 years old.
Can You Drink Alcohol While Breastfeeding?
According to the Center for Disease Control not drinking alcohol is the safest option for breastfeeding mothers. Moderate alcohol consumption (one drink) is not known to be harmful to the infant, particularly if the mother waits at least two hours from the consumption of a single alcoholic beverage. Alcohol consumption above this level may impair a care takers judgment and may be damaging to an infant’s growth, development, and sleep patterns. Caring for an infant while intoxicated is dangerous. Alcohol levels are highest in breastmilk 30-60 minutes after drinking and typically can be detected for about three hours after consumption. Pumping and dumping does not reduce the alcohol content of the maternal breast milk more quickly. As the mother’s blood alcohol level declines, the concentration of alcohol in the breast milk declines as well. As a general rule of thumb waiting 2 hours per drink before breastfeeding is a wise idea.
Of note the definition of one alcoholic beverage is 5 ounces of 12% wine, 12oz of 5% beer, 1.5oz of 40% liquor, or 8oz of 7% malt liquor.
This is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical advice. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please always discuss any health and feeding concerns directly with your pediatrician. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read above.
Butte NF. Maternal nutrition during lactation. Pediatric Up-to-Date. 2010. Available at:http://www.uptodate.com/contents/maternal-nutrition-during-lactation?source=search_result&search=maternal+nutrition&selectedTitle=2%7E150. Accessed July 12, 2019.
Carlson SE Docosahexaenoic acid supplementation in pregnancy and lactation. Am J Clin Nutr.2009;89(2):678S–684Spmid:19116324
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): Clinical report on the effects of early nutritional interventions on the development of atopic disease in infants and children – The role of maternal dietary restriction, breastfeeding, hydrolyzed formulas, and timing of introduction of allergenic complementary foods (2019)
Published: September 18, 2019
Last modified: March 23, 2020