What to Eat and Not Eat When Breastfeeding

Apr 08 , 2022


What to Eat and Not Eat When Breastfeeding

We already know that breast milk is the most nutritious food for your baby, but what about your own diet when breastfeeding? Here's all you need to know!


What Consists of a Healthy Breastfeeding Diet?

It requires a lot of energy to generate this liquid gold, and the dietary requirements rise to satisfy these demands. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nursing moms need an additional 450 to 500 kilocalories (kcal) of healthy food to meet both their nutritional needs and their babies.

The key is to focus on making healthier food choices that are nutrient-dense and nourishing to help with breast milk production. Eating a wide variety of food while breastfeeding is also essential to expose your baby to different tastes, which might help him easily accept solid food down the road.

Furthermore, eating nutritious food after giving birth will make you feel better both emotionally and physically — and who wouldn't want that?


Consuming adequate protein is vital for you to promote and maintain a healthy milk supply, and for your baby to help with their muscle growth and development.

Sources rich in protein include the following: 

  • Lean meats (i.e beef and pork)
  • Fish and seafood (salmon is a good choice)
  • Poultry (i.e. chicken and turkey)
  • Eggs
  • Seeds and nuts

Fruits and Vegetables

Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. These are high in a variety of nutrients, particularly iron, calcium, potassium, and vitamins A and D which are beneficial for breastfeeding. 

Here are some of the most nutritious fruits and vegetables to add to your meals!

  • Yams, beets, and carrots

  • These are high in beta carotene which are important to breast milk production, and are good sources of iron and minerals.

  • Dark leafy vegetables
  • Kale, arugula, spinach, collard greens, and swiss chard are just some of the wonderful sources of important enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and supply the compound phytoestrogen which helps support lactation. 

    Locally, Moringa (Moringa oleifera) or malunggay leaves are widely used as a galactagogue as it contains minerals, and essential amino acids as well as a number of glycosides to help boost milk production.​​

  • Green papaya
  • Another fruit that is considered a galactagogue in Asia for its enzymes, vitamins, and minerals, and a good source of vitamin A and C. 

  • Berries
  • Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries are bursting with Vitamin C, which do not just help strengthen the immune system but also a key to bone development for your little one! 

  • Avocado
  • Considered as a breastfeeding superfood because it is filled with folate, potassium, and vitamins B, K, C and E, and is a good source of fiber and healthy fats that help support your baby’s brain development. 

    Fiber and Carbohydrates

    High-carb food such as bread, potatoes, cereals, rice, pasta and noodles are an important source of energy, certain vitamins and fibre to support the growth and development of your baby. Just try to limit your intake of refined carbohydrates like white flour and white rice, and go for whole grains like brown rice and wheat bread instead.


    It is recommended to consume a minimum of 1000mg of calcium during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Amp up your calcium intake with dairy products such as milk, hard cheese, cottage cheese, soya and yogurt. 

    Food To Avoid When Breastfeeding

    Although the body closely regulates breast milk contents, studies have found that what you eat does affect the composition of breast milk.

    In general, nothing is forbidden as long as you follow a well-balanced diet.  However,  according to experts, there are certain foods and drinks that you should avoid as much as possible when breastfeeding. 

    Mercury-Rich Fish and Seafood 

    Fish is an excellent source of protein and essential vitamins and minerals, but careful selection must be considered before consumption due to high mercury content in some varieties.

    Intense exposure to elevated levels of mercury will have long-term effects on the infant's central nervous system, and may result to delays or deterioration in:

    • Fine motor abilities
    • Development of speech and vocabulary
    • Visual-spatial awareness

    Here's a guide from the US FDA to help you make better choices when it comes to fish and seafood.


    Drugs and Medication

    There are a few things that must be prevented when breastfeeding, period. Any illicit drugs fall under this category. If you take prescription medications, speak to your doctor about breastfeeding protection to see if there is a safer baby choice.


    You may enjoy the extra garlic on your favorite pizza, but your baby may not. Garlic smell and flavor are detectable in breastmilk, which can cause your baby to avoid breastfeeding or make a dissatisfied face in between gulps. If you note this, evaluate your diet and see if you consumed more garlic than usual.


    Research says that about 1% of the caffeine you consume goes to your breast milk. Although it has not been proven to cause harm to babies, it will take longer for them to metabolize caffeine, hence may affect their sleep. So it is best to limit your caffeine intake to 300 milligrams or less per day or about 2 to 3 cups per day. 

    Common sources of caffeine include the following:

    • Coffee
    • Sodas
    • Energy drinks
    • Tea
    • Chocolate

    Alcoholic Beverages

    The recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for breastfeeding mothers is to avoid alcohol consumption. 

    In general, a moderate consumption of up to 1 drink per day isn’t known to be harmful to your baby especially if you wait for at least 2 hours before nursing. However, exposure to alcohol above moderate levels through breast milk could be harmful to an infant's development, growth, and sleep patterns, and may affect the mother’s judgement and ability to safely care for her child.


    Again always keep in mind that everybody is different and every baby is different. So some babies may react to certain foods, and others may not. 

    If your baby starts experiencing any side effects like skin rashes, allergies , or diarrhea it can be due to something in your diet. Immediately consult your pediatrician when this happens so you can rule out the probable cause.

    Related Articles:

    What You Need To Know When Expressing Breast Milk 

    Breastfeeding For the First Time  

    Breastfeeding and COVID-19 Antibodies

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