Nutrition and Breastfeeding

Nutrition and Breastfeeding

Eating healthy and being active is just as important when you are breastfeeding as it was when you were pregnant. Your body needs extra energy and nutrients to produce breastmilk for your baby.

Meal planning with Canada's Food Guide 
You will need extra energy (calories), fluids, protein and other nutrients to keep up with the milk production demands. You can get the extra energy and nutrients by eating slightly more of the same foods you would normally eat. You can also choose to add an extra healthy snack. Your body will still use up some of your fat stores developed during pregnancy. 

It is also about where, when, why, and how you eat. Aim for a healthy lifestyle which includes enjoyment of food you eat, being mindful of your eating habits, cooking more often, eating as a family and regular physical activity. 

  • Eat a variety of healthy foods each day. 
  • Eat regular meals, especially breakfast each day. 
  • Eat healthy snacks such as fruit, vegetables, yogurt, hummus, cheese, milk, soy beverage, whole grain crackers. 
  • Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit at meals and snacks. 
  • Eat protein foods at meals and snacks. 
  • Choose protein foods that come from plants more often (e.g. beans, chickpeas, peanut butter, tofu). 
  • Eat whole grains such as brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, whole grain bread. 
  • Eat calcium-rich foods after pregnancy because you are using your calcium stores to provide for you and your baby (e.g. yogurt, cheese, milk, soy beverage, dried fruit, tofu, kale).
  • Limit highly processed foods. 
  • Make water your drink of choice. 
  • See Canada's Food Guide for examples of a variety of different healthy foods and recipes to choose from. 

It is also important to consume fish safely when breastfeeding just like during pregnancy. Visit, Health Canada for more information on Mercury in Fish.

Visit, UnlockFood.ca for information on How to Make Healthy Choice While Breastfeeding.

Staying hydrated
  • Drink enough fluids, especially water, to help with your thirst. 
  • You will need more fluids than during pregnancy and pre-pregnancy. 
  • Have a water bottle or glass easily accessible at all times. 
  • Drink liquids each time you breastfeed. 
  • Drink water regularly, and even more in hot weather or when you are active. 
  • Milk or fortified soy beverage is a good choice as it is a great source of calcium and vitamin D. 
  • Some foods like vegetables and fruit also provide fluids. 
Supplements 
All breastfeeding women should take a multivitamin with folic acid. If you have prenatal vitamins left it is okay to continue with these and get a multivitamin with folic acid when it is finsihed. Ask your healthcare professional to recommend a multivitamin.
Caffeine 
  • Limit the amount of caffeine you have to no more than 500 mL (2 cups) of coffee or other caffeine drinks per day. This also means no more than 300 mg of caffeine a day. 
  • Caffeine passes into your breast milk and it may make your baby fussy.
  • Foods and drinks that have caffeine include coffee, tea, colas, and chocolate.

Visit, UnlockFood.ca for more information on Facts on Caffeine and Health Canada for Caffeine in Foods.  

Breastfeeding and healthy weight loss

When breastfeeding, it is not a time to go on a strict diet in an effort to lose weight. Instead, focus on making healthy food choices and eating regularly. This will help you establish a healthy lifestyle for you and your growing family. Breastfeeding requires a lot of energy and it will help you return to your pre-pregnancy weight. Your body uses up some fat to supply the energy needed to make milk. 

Following Canada's Food Guide and staying active is important for breastfeeding mothers.

Visit, UnlockFood.ca for more information on Healthy Weight Loss After Pregnancy.

Preventing allergies in your baby 

You do not need to avoid common allergenic foods while breastfeeding unless of course you have food allergies yourself. Even mothers of breastfeeding babies that are high risk for allergies do not need to avoid allergenic food. High risk children are those that have a parent or sibling with a food allergy. 

In fact, research shows that early exposure to common food allergens to high risk babies can reduce the risk of developing food allergies. So, even some exposure through breastmilk can help. Also, when you begin solids at around 6 months, you can give your baby foods like eggs, fish, and wheat as part of their diet. Waiting to give these foods will not prevent allergies, even in babies with a family history of food allergy. 

If you are not sure about your decision to avoid certain allergenic foods during breastfeeding, you should talk to your doctor or registered dietitian. Restricting certain foods could lead to inadequate amounts of vitamins and minerals necessary for you and your baby's health. 

Visit, UnlockFood.ca for more information on Food Allergies and Babies.

Alcohol, Cannabis, Tobacco, and NRT 

It is best to not use alcohol, cannabis, and tobacco while breastfeeding. For more information visit our page on Alcohol, Cannabis, Tobacco, and NRT while Breastfeeding. 

 

 

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Updated July, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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