icon-arrow-down icon icon-arrow-fill-down icon icon-arrow-next icon icon-arrow-prev icon icon-tag-close icon
Should a breastfeeding mom change her diet?
Q: I’m eight months pregnant and am planning to breastfeed. Do I need to change my diet? Will I need to drink a lot of milk? Should I continue taking vitamins?
A: There’s an important connection between the food you eat and the quality of your breast milk. After your pregnancy is over, your body continues to need extra energy, protein and vitamins to make high-quality breast milk. The best way to meet your extra needs is to increase your caloric intake by 500 calories a day and eat a well-balanced diet containing a variety of nutritious foods. While you don’t need to drink milk in order to make healthy breast milk, you will need to consume calcium. Non-dairy sources of calcium include dark green vegetables, seeds, nuts and bony fish.

There are some circumstances that warrant taking a vitamin and mineral supplement:
  • Your appetite is low and you consume less than 1,800 calories a day

  • You’re vegetarian, and your diet doesn’t provide vitamin B-12

  • You don’t drink milk or eat other calcium rich foods

  • You don’t eat foods fortified with Vitamin D, and you have little exposure to sunlight.

Many women continue taking a prenatal multivitamin while lactating. This is a perfectly fine option and may allay your concerns about the adequacy of your diet. If you fall into one of the special categories outlined above, discuss your dietary needs with your healthcare provider.

Laura E. Stachel M.D. Obstetrician & Gynecologist