What To Eat & What Not To Eat While Breastfeeding

November 8th, 2023 | 10:50 am


Breastfeeding is an incredible journey that provides numerous benefits to both the mother and her baby. It offers optimal nutrition and strengthens the bond between mother and child. However, it’s not just the act of breastfeeding that matters; what a mother consumes during this period plays a pivotal role in the baby’s growth and development. A nutritious diet, when not nursing, is largely the same as a healthy diet while breastfeeding. The key distinction is that nursing mothers require more calories.

Importance of Eating Healthy While Breastfeeding

Proper nutrition is essential for the overall health and well-being of any individual, but it takes on special significance during the breastfeeding period. What a mother eats directly impacts the quality of breast milk and, consequently, her baby’s growth and development. There are several reasons why eating healthy while breastfeeding is of paramount importance:

  • Breast milk is not just a source of nourishment; it’s a tailored and dynamic food source that evolves to meet the baby’s changing needs. A well-balanced diet provides the essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals necessary for optimal development.
  • Breast milk contains certain antibodies and other immune-boosting compounds that help protect the baby from infections and diseases. A healthy diet contributes to a stronger immune system in both the mother and the baby.
  • The postpartum period is a time of healing and adjustment for the mother’s body. Nutrient-dense foods can aid in quicker recovery and help replenish nutrients lost during pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Eating well can also lead to a positive impact on the mother’s mental health, reducing the risk of postpartum depression and anxiety.

What To Eat While Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding women should consume the appropriate quantity of calories as well as the appropriate meals. Moms often require an additional 450 to 500 calories each day to sustain their bodies. Here are some examples of healthy food categories and nutrients one should incorporate in their diet during breastfeeding:

  • Fruits & Vegetables – A diet rich in fruits & vegetables provides essential vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Moms who are nursing should aim to eat three cups of veggies each day. Fruits are full of vitamins A, C, and potassium in addition to other nutrients, and they may also benefit some women who have constipation after giving birth.
  • Lean Proteins – Lean proteins like poultry, fish, lean beef, and plant-based sources like beans are crucial for repairing and building tissues. They also offer a good source of iron, which is important for both mother and baby.
  • Whole Grains – Grains, particularly whole grains, supply numerous essential nutrients to nursing mothers. Whole grains, such as oats, rice, and bread, provide a steady supply of energy and are high in fibre, aiding in digestion. They also contain essential vitamins.
  • Dairy or its Alternatives – Dairy is a great way to restore the calcium the bones may lose during pregnancy and lactation. Dairy products and fortified dairy alternatives like milk, yoghurt, & cheese are excellent sources of calcium, which is essential for the development of a baby’s bones and teeth.
  • Healthy Fats – These include sources of healthy fats in your diet, such as eggs, seeds, and nuts. These fats are necessary for the development of your baby’s brain and nervous system.
  • Hydration – Staying well-hydrated is crucial. Water is nevertheless crucial to consume at regular intervals. The recommended daily objective is to consume 12 tall glasses of water. Drink plenty of herbal tea and water and consume watery fruits like watermelon to maintain an adequate milk supply.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as soybean, walnuts, and flaxseeds, promote brain development in infants and have anti-inflammatory benefits for both mother and child.
  • Iron-rich Foods – Iron is essential for preventing anaemia in both mother and baby. Good sources of iron include fish, lean red meat, poultry, spinach, lentils, and fortified cereals.
  • Folic Acid is important for the development of the baby’s neural tube and can be found in chickpeas, leafy greens, and citrus fruits like oranges.
  • Herbs & Spices – Some herbs like fenugreek and fennel, as well as spices like turmeric, are believed to support milk production and digestion. However, it’s important to consult with a doctor before using them.

What Not To Eat While Breastfeeding

While the list of foods to eat is crucial, there are also foods and substances to avoid during breastfeeding. These restrictions are in place to ensure the well-being and safety of both the mother and the baby:

  • Caffeine – While moderate caffeine intake is generally considered safe, excessive caffeine can lead to irritability and sleep disturbances in the baby.  
  • Alcohol passes into breast milk and can negatively affect the baby’s development. It’s advisable to abstain from alcohol consumption or limit it to very occasional and small amounts.
  • Spicy Foods – Spices can sometimes lead to gassiness or fussiness in the baby. If you notice any adverse reactions in your baby after consuming spicy foods, consider reducing your intake.
  • Fish having High Mercury Content – Certain types of fish, such as king mackerel or southern bluefin tuna, contain high levels of mercury (Hg), which can be harmful to the baby’s developing nervous system. Opt for low-mercury fish like rohu instead.
  • Some Herbal Supplements – Some medications and herbs can pass into breast milk, potentially affecting the baby. Always consult your healthcare provider before taking any medication or supplements while breastfeeding.
  • Highly Processed Foods – Highly processed and sugary foods should be limited. These provide empty calories and can also lead to weight gain and decreased energy levels for the mother.


Breastfeeding is not only a natural and beautiful way to nourish your baby but also a powerful means of promoting health and well-being for both mother and child. For the health and development of both the mother and the child, eating a nutrient-rich diet is essential during nursing. A well-rounded diet can provide the necessary nutrients for optimal growth and ensure the quality of breast milk. A safe and loving environment is essential for your baby’s growth and development; therefore, keep a balanced diet while avoiding toxic substances.

We at Giggles Hospital are aware of the significance of a healthy diet throughout the nursing stage. To help new moms on their nursing journey, our passionate group of healthcare experts is available to offer advice and support. We offer a range of healthcare services to ensure that both mother and child receive the best care possible.