Nutrition and Breastfeeding

Nutrition and Breastfeeding

Nutrition tips

Caffeine

Dieting and breastfeeding 

Nutrition tips

Eating healthy and being active is just as important when you are breastfeeding as it was when you were pregnant. Enjoy lots of different healthy foods. See Canada's Food Guide for examples of serving sizes and how to choose healthy foods. Choose foods from the 4 food groups made with little or no added fat, sugar or salt. It is important for mothers to lead a healthy lifestyle. This includes healthy eating and regular physical activity.

Emphasize vegetables and fruits.

  • Eat 7 or 8 servings every day
  • Eat at least 1 dark green and 1 orange vegetable each day
  • Examples of 1 Food Guide serving:

    • ½ cup of fresh, frozen or canned vegetable
    • 1 medium fruit 

Emphasize whole grain cereals, breads, and other grain products.

  • 6 or 7 servings each day 
  • Examples of 1 Food Guide serving:

    • 1 slice of bread
    • ½ cup (125 mL) of cooked rice, pasta
    • ¾ cup (175 mL) of hot cereal
    • 30 g of breakfast cereal 

Choose 2 servings of milk or fortified soy beverages each day.

  • Examples of 1 Food Guide serving:

    • 1 cup (250 mL) of milk or fortified soy beverage 
    • ¾ cup (175 g) of yogurt
    • 1 ½ oz (50 g) of hard cheese
  • If you are 18 years old or less, add 1 or 2 extra servings of milk products each day

Choose 2 servings of meat and alternatives each day.

  • Examples of 1 Food Guide serving:

    • 2 ½ oz (75 g) of cooked fish, poultry, lean meat
    • ¾ cup (175 mL) of cooked legumes
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of peanut butter
  • Breastfeeding women can still enjoy eating a variety of fish if they choose carefully. Use this guide (PDF) to help choose fish low in mercury.

Breastfeeding women need more calories

  • Include an extra 2 to 3 servings each day of foods from any of the 4 food groups
  • For example, have a fruit and yogurt for a snack

    • Milk products, which include yogurt, cheese and milk are good sources of calcium
    • Other calcium rich foods include :

      • Salmon (with bones mashed in for canned) and sardines
      • Almond and sesame seeds
      • Cooked soybeans and other dried peas, beans and lentils
      • Tofu made with calcium sulfate
      • Vegetables like kale, bok choy and broccoli
      • Dried fruit, especially figs

Supplements

All breastfeeding women should take a multivitamin with folic acid.

Drink fluids

  • Drink enough fluids, especially water, to help with your thirst.
  • Many mothers find they need more fluids than usual. It is a good idea to have something available to drink each time you breastfeed.
  • Drink water regularly, and even more in hot weather or when you are more active.

Oils and Fats

  • Include a small amount, 2 to 3 Tbsp (30 to 45 mL), of unsaturated fat each day. This includes oil used for cooking, salad dressings, margarine and mayonnaise. Limit butter, hard margarine, lard and shortening.

Caffeine

  • Limit the amount of caffeine you have to no more than 2 cups of coffee or other caffeine drinks per day.
  • Caffeine passes into your breast milk. It may make your baby fussy.
  • Foods and drinks that have caffeine include coffee, tea, colas, and chocolate.

Dieting and breastfeeding

Breastfeeding moms should not try to lose weight through strict dieting as it can decrease milk supply. For most women, breastfeeding will help you gradually lose some of the weight you gained while you were pregnant. 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.

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