Eating nutritious foods during the postpartum period is important to feel your best mentally and physically. Eating for breastfeeding is especially important as it takes a lot of energy to produce breastmilk. There is a reason your hunger levels may feel intense when you are breastfeeding.
Eating for breastfeeding: how much do you need to eat?
Women who are breastfeeding have higher calorie, protein, carbohydrate, and nutrient needs like vitamin A, C, E, B vitamins, iodine, choline and zinc. It is estimated women who are breastfeeding need an additional 330-400 calories per day, although this can vary from day to day and throughout the breastfeeding journey.
Make sure you aren’t going too long without eating and to try to include a variety of nutritious foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and proteins. If you are feeling intense hunger or cravings, chances are you may not be eating enough throughout the day.
How much do you need to drink?
Drink plenty of fluid and pay attention to signs of thirst. The average intake of fluid is around 12 cups per day but this can vary from individual to individual. It is also important to note, to limit caffeine to around 300 mg per day while breastfeeding.
Do you need a supplement when breastfeeding?
A supplement can be beneficial to fill the gaps that may be occurring in your diet, and help provide reassurance for specific nutrients of concern. You may continue with the prenatal supplement you were taking, although iron needs would no longer be as high as they were during pregnancy. Ensure you are taking a supplement with at least 400 mcg of folic acid, 600 IU vitamin D and some of the nutrients of concern like vitamin A, C, E, B12, choline, iodine and zinc depending on your diet.
For example, during lactation vitamin A needs jump from 700 mcg to 1300 mcg per day. While there are a number of foods with plenty of vitamin A; like sweet potato (1,403 mcg per whole sweet potato) or carrots (459 per 1/2 cup raw), it may be possible that on some days that you may not be getting enough.
You may also want to consider an Omega 3 supplement if you are not consuming fish. Omega 3 fatty acids are important for the brain and eye development in infants.
As always speak to your health care professionals before starting a supplement.
Should you diet to lose weight while breastfeeding?
You may be anxious to “bounce back” to your pregnancy weight as accepting your postpartum bodies can be difficult. But remember, you need extra calories to produce breastmilk. If you restrict your intake this may reduce your breast milk supply.
Instead, focus on including balanced meals and snacks, and getting in movement that you enjoy and can do safely (talk to a pelvic floor physiotherapist). If you can focus on letting go of the weight expectations and focus on a positive journey with food and health it will better serve you and your little ones. Be patient and kind to yourself.
Meal prepping while breastfeeding:
Finding your new rhythm and routine with your new baby can be a challenge. You may be exhausted from sleepless nights and on demand with breastfeeding which means little time for putting your own needs first like resting, bathing and preparing meals. I totally get it!
Nutritious meals don’t need to be elaborate. It is okay to take short cuts and make meals and snacks simple. For example Try to take advantage of crockpot meals or sheet pan meals that can be prepped ahead or made quickly.
The postpartum period is beautiful but can be emotional and overwhelming too. It is encouraged to ask for help when you need it and seek support from professionals who can help you along this journey of motherhood.
Easy Snacks for Breastfeeding
- Greek yogurt & fruit
- Peanut butter & apple
- Veggies & dip
- Cheese & crackers
- A granola bar with at least 3 g fibre & 4 g of protein
Easy Meals for Breastfeeding
Eating for breastfeeding can have it’s challenges, if you are struggling to meet your nutrition needs, book your free discovery call with me here to see how I can support you through your postpartum journey.
Please note, the information in this blog post does not substitute for medical advice. Please consult your health care professionals.