Breastfeeding & Nutrition: Tailoring Your Diet for Two

November 14, 2023

Written by Gia Eapen, MD

Medically reviewed by

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Key Points

  • Your breastfeeding journey means your body now requires up to 400 extra calories per day.
  • A balanced diet isn't just good for you—it contributes directly to the quality of your milk.
  • Never underestimate the power of hydration. It's as important as your nutrient-rich foods.
  • Congratulations, your weight loss journey has a natural partner in breastfeeding!
  • Let's be mindful of certain substances and habits, like alcohol and tobacco use—they should be limited or avoided.

Breastfeeding is an incredible journey that you and your baby embark on together. However, it's not without its challenges. One of those challenges is meeting your increased nutritional needs to support both your health and your baby's development. In this comprehensive guide, we dive into the details of how you can bolster your nutrition and wellness during this crucial period, along with some handy tips to make it all a bit easier.

A Nutritional Boost for You, Quality Milk for Your Baby

To meet the increased nutritional demands of breastfeeding, you'll need to add about 400 extra calories to your daily intake. This number can vary depending on how often you nurse – the more frequently you breastfeed, the more calories you'll need. Not sure how to make this adjustment? Book an appointment with Fay, who can guide you professionally.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Stay well-hydrated throughout the day, aiming for at least 12 (8-fluid ounce) caffeine-free beverages. A good strategy can be to have a drink every time you nurse your baby. Uncertain about how much you should be drinking? Registered Dietitians at Fay are always available to assist with your hydration needs.

Foods for You, Foods for Them

A variety of foods from different groups make up a balanced diet that not only keeps you healthy but also supports quality milk production. Try including lean meats, low-fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and whole grain breads and cereals in your diet. Specific foods that are particularly beneficial during breastfeeding include:

  • Protein-rich foods like chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products, and legumes.
  • Calcium sources such as dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified foods.
  • Iron-rich foods including lean meats, legumes, and fortified cereals.
  • Foods rich in Vitamin C like citrus fruits, strawberries, and bell peppers.

For more personalized advice, don't hesitate to book a consultation with Fay.

Breastfeeding and Weight Loss

Breastfeeding can help you naturally lose the weight gained during pregnancy. It's estimated that producing 100 calories of breast milk uses around 85 calories from you. It's perfectly natural and healthy to experience a slow, steady weight loss after the initial couple of months. If you're concerned about weight loss, remember Fay is here to help guide and support you.

Avoid These for Your Baby's Sake

There are certain substances and habits you should avoid or limit to protect your baby's health and your milk production:

  • Alcohol: If possible, keep intake to 1-2 drinks per week and avoid it altogether for preterm or sick infants. Wait at least 2 hours before nursing after consuming alcohol.
  • Caffeine: Try to limit to 2-5 cups of coffee or tea per day.
  • Fish high in mercury: Avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tile fish.
  • Tobacco: It can affect your milk supply and exposes your baby to second-hand smoke.
  • Illicit drugs: These pose dangers to both you and your baby.

If you're unsure about which substances to avoid or limit, Fay is here to clarify any concerns you might have.

Meal Planning

Meal planning can be a challenge, especially when you're adjusting to the demands of a new baby. For a tailored meal plan that fits your needs, don't forget to book an appointment with Fay.

Breastfeeding can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Following these nutritional guidelines can help ensure that you're providing the best for your baby while taking care of yourself in the process. And remember, Fay is just an appointment away to support you on your breastfeeding journey. Happy breastfeeding!

The views expressed by authors and contributors of such content are not endorsed or approved by Fay and are intended for informational purposes only. The content is reviewed by Fay only to confirm educational value and audience interest. You are encouraged to discuss any questions that you may have about your health with a healthcare provider.


Fay Nutrition has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.

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Gia Eapen, MD

Written by Gia Eapen, MD

Dr. Gia Eapen is a skilled Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN) physician at Case Western/MetroHealth. A Northwestern University alumna, she pursued her medical degree at the University of Vermont, fostering a deep understanding of women's health and reproductive medicine. She combines her comprehensive knowledge with a dedication to patient-centered care, embodying a commitment to enhancing healthcare standards in her field.


Medically Reviewed by