Nutrition Tips for Breastfeeding Moms from Registered Dietition Nutritionist

All this preparation and now your baby is here. And it’s hard. New parents, especially moms, can feel everything from love and joy to being completely overwhelmed and terrified. (Greeting card companies usually skip over the latter feelings!)

In 2011, August was declared National Breastfeeding Month (NBM) to support breastfeeding as a “public health imperative.” The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of a baby’s life ( There are many health benefits, both for the mother and baby, of breastfeeding.

Whether you breastfeed exclusively, combine bottle feeding with breastfeeding, or bottle feed your baby, as a new mother, you need to take care of yourself and your health. Your body has just gone through incredible changes, is dehydrated after birth, and will need lots of care!

Here are nutrition tips for all new moms to help you heal after birth and begin a healthy breastfeeding plan:

  1. Hydrate! During labor, a woman loses an incredible amount of fluids and blood. Now, more than ever, your body needs fluids (preferably water) (10 glasses a day). Put on a timer to remind you to drink. Upping fluid intake will also help soften bowel movements and keep you hydrated for breastfeeding. While breastfeeding, keep a glass of water next to you.
  2. Think healthy, not weight: During pregnancy women gain weight and often feel uncomfortable with the changes in their bodies. Now isn’t the time to diet. Instead, it’s time to focus on recovery (after birth) and taking care of that baby. This means eating good meals and high-energy snacks. The weight will come off with time.
  3. Nutrition-packed meals with enough calories are a must! Meals and snacks need to go above and beyond. Breastfeeding moms need more calories. A woman breastfeeding a single baby needs on average about 2700 calories a day and a woman breastfeeding twins needs about 3200. About 500 calories more a day than normal for each baby. This isn’t the time to try to lose weight, instead focus on getting enough calories to nourish both your body and baby(ies). Your daily nutritional intake should look a little like this:
    • Protein: 20 – 25% of all calories should come from protein. Lean meat, eggs, dairy, beans, lentils, and seafood low in mercury. Tuna, king mackeral, tile fish, sword fish and other fish listed to have high mercury content can be eaten, but we don’t recommend more than 6 oz per week.
    • Fats: 30% of all calories should come from healthy fats.  Snack on almonds and walnuts. Avocados, olives, olive oil, and fatty fish (be careful of mercury content).
    • Carbs can take the rest of your diet. I recommend complex carbohydrates like whole-grain breads and cereals, barley and quinoa, fruits and vegetables, whole-wheat pastas and rice. Carbs are our bodies’ energy source and so necessary post-partum.
    • Iron-rich foods like lentils, dark leafy green vegetables, and whole-grain products combined with foods high in vitamin C (to help the body absorb iron) are important as well as calcium found in dairy products, leafy greens, or calcium-fortified or enriched cereals, soy products and more.
  1. Like with drinking water, get on an eating schedule. Set an alarm to remind you when to eat.  Take the time to nourish yourself after birth.

The freight train of parenthood has hit! This is probably one of the most exhausting and overwhelming times in anybody’s life. Most moms say that the first year is a blur of late-night feedings and groggy pre-dawn wakeups.

This, too, shall pass. While it’s happening, though, do your best to stay healthy, eat well, rest as much as possible, and take care of your body and time to enjoy this beautiful human being you created.