Breastfeeding has many health benefits for moms and babies. For example, breastfeeding will:
- Help protect your baby from infection and illness
- Give you and your baby time to be close and bond
- Save your family money
By making healthy food choices, you’ll help you and your baby get the nutrients you both need.
Most people can get all the nutrients they need by making healthy food choices. If you are worried about getting enough nutrients while breastfeeding, ask your doctor about taking a multivitamin.
Make your calories count.
To get the nutrients you need while breastfeeding, make sure to include these foods in your diet:
- A variety of vegetables and fruits
- Seafood, poultry, lean meats, eggs, beans, and nuts
- Fat-free or low-fat milk or soy products with added calcium
- Brown rice, 100% whole-wheat bread, and other whole grains
- Fortified cereals (cereals with added iron and folic acid)
Limit foods and drinks high in “empty calories” from added sugars and solid fats. Foods and drinks with lots of empty calories include desserts, fatty meats, fried foods, and sugar-sweetened drinks.
Eat 8 to 12 ounces of seafood each week.
Fish and shellfish have nutrients that can help your baby see and learn better. Eat seafood 2 to 3 days a week. Be sure to include a variety of healthy choices, like:
- Canned light tuna
- White (albacore) tuna – no more than 6 ounces a week
Avoid fish that are high in mercury, especially swordfish, tilefish, shark, and king mackerel. Mercury is a metal that can hurt your baby’s development.
Drink plenty of fluids.
Your body needs extra fluids, like water and fat-free or low-fat milk, when you are breastfeeding. Limit or avoid drinks that are high in caffeine or added sugars. Try drinking a glass of water every time you breastfeed.
If you choose to drink alcohol, follow these safety tips.
- Wait until your baby is at least 3 months old and has a breastfeeding routine.
- Plan ahead for how you’ll feed your baby if he gets hungry. For example, pump (express) some breast milk before having any alcohol.
- Drink only in moderation – for women, this means no more than 1 drink a day.
- Wait at least 4 hours after having a drink before breastfeeding. (Any alcohol that’s in your blood when you breastfeed will pass into your breast milk.)