Tips for Eating Healthy While Breastfeeding

Dec 11, 2023
Tips for Eating Healthy While Breastfeeding
Are you a nursing mom and concerned about your diet and how to make sure you’re eating the right foods to support your baby? Take a moment to read our top tips for eating healthy while breastfeeding!

From the team at the Center for Advanced Pediatrics in Darien and Norwalk, Connecticut, congratulations on your new arrival and the decision to breastfeed! Breastfeeding provides your baby with optimal nutrients for their growing needs. 

If you’re like many nursing mothers, however, you may have questions about what you can do to make sure the foods you eat are the best for your baby and whether they might affect your milk for better or worse. 

Our board-certified pediatric providers partner with IBCLC-certified lactation consultants from Tiny Tummies. These practitioners specialize in breastfeeding medicine to provide you and your baby with the personalized support you need while you breastfeed — including nutrition support and advice. 

You don’t need to follow a special plan when breastfeeding, but you can take steps to ensure that you’re eating a nutrient-dense, balanced diet so that your health and your baby’s development are well supported. 

Keep reading to learn our top tips for eating healthy while breastfeeding. If questions arise along your breastfeeding journey, don’t hesitate to contact our offices and schedule an appointment with a Tiny Tummies consultant.  

1. Stick to a routine

Having a baby can wreak havoc on your normal eating schedule, making it easy to skip meals and then overindulge in less-than-healthy foods when your hunger grows. This is especially true when breastfeeding since your body burns extra calories in producing milk. 

Try sticking to an eating routine to help you stay focused on the best fuels for your body and your milk. You don’t need to set alarms and live by the clock, but consider eating around the same times each day to make it easier to get the calories and nutrients you need.   

2. Focus on whole foods

To get the most nutrients from your meals and snacks, reach for whole foods instead of packaged and processed items. These foods are rich in the key nutrients you and your baby need, like folic acid, iron, calcium, choline, and iodine. 

You can fill your plate with a mix of healthy, whole foods from the different food groups, including:

  • Whole grains (e.g., brown rice, whole-wheat breads and pastas, oatmeal)
  • Fresh and frozen fruits (e.g., berries, bananas, mangoes, apples)
  • Fresh and frozen veggies (e.g., broccoli, carrots, beets, potatoes)
  • Dark, leafy greens (e.g., spinach, kale, cabbage)
  • Lean proteins (e.g., edamame, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, tofu, lean means)
  • Healthy fats (e.g., avocado, coconut, nuts, seeds)

Focusing on the many whole foods available makes it easier to avoid the less-than-nutritious choices. 

3. Drink water when your baby drinks

The beverages you drink (or don’t drink) also affect your breast milk since breastfeeding requires extra fluids. When you’re nursing, your body expends at least three cups of water in breast milk daily. 

You don’t need to measure a specific number of ounces to drink, but you want to pay attention to your thirst. If you’re hydrated, you won’t feel thirsty. To help you stay on top of your hydration, try drinking a glass or more of water whenever you feed your baby.

4. Be careful with seafood

Seafood is high in protein and certain fatty acids, but unfortunately, many seafoods contain dangerous contaminants, like mercury. Burning wood, oil, and coal creates airborne mercury particles that land in the ocean during rain or from gravity. 

Fish consume the mercury particles in the water, with bigger fish — like tuna (including canned tuna), tilefish, swordfish, shark, and king mackerel — having more since they eat smaller fish. 

When you eat seafood high in mercury, it passes to your baby through breast milk. For this reason, while you're nursing, avoiding high-mercury fish and choosing low-mercury seafood, such as salmon, cod, shellfish, sardines, tilapia, and catfish, is best.     

5. Get personalized help 

If you’re struggling with your diet while breastfeeding, don’t wait to talk to your provider. Breastfeeding offers you and your baby many benefits, including helping build your mother-child bond and giving your baby many protections. 

The lactation consultants at Tiny Tummies can refer you to the right provider for personalized nutrition help. If you struggle with any breastfeeding issues, including slow weight gain, engorgement, or an oversupply of milk, our dedicated practitioners can diagnose the issue and provide practical, actionable advice. 

To learn more about breastfeeding or for personalized lactation help, schedule an appointment online or over the phone with a Tiny Tummies lactation consultant at The Center for Advanced Pediatrics in Norwalk or Darien, Connecticut.