Eat Healthy While Breastfeeding: Quick tips

Eat Healthy While Breastfeeding: Quick tips

Breastfeeding has many health benefits for moms and babies. For example, breastfeeding can:

  • Help protect your baby from infection and illness
  • Save your family money

Making healthy food choices while you're breastfeeding will help you and your baby get the nutrients you both need.

Most people can get all the nutrients they need by following a healthy eating pattern. 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, follow a healthy eating pattern. For example, include these foods in your diet:

  • A variety of vegetables and fruits
  • Seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, beans, peas, unsalted nuts and seeds, and soy products
  • Fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese – or soymilk with added calcium
  • Whole grains like brown rice and 100% whole-wheat bread
  • Fortified cereals (cereals with added iron and folic acid)

Limit foods and drinks that are high in added sugars or saturated fats. This includes foods and drinks like desserts, some snack foods, fatty meats like bacon or sausage, fried foods, and sugar-sweetened drinks.

Eat 8 to 12 ounces of seafood each week.

Fish and shellfish have healthy fats that are good for your baby. But some fish is high in mercury, a metal that can hurt your baby’s development. It’s a good idea to eat seafood that is high in healthy fats but lower in mercury.

Best choices
These choices are lower in mercury, so you can eat 8 to 12 ounces a week.

  • Canned light tuna
  • Catfish
  • Cod
  • Herring
  • Pacific oysters
  • Salmon
  • Shad
  • Shrimp
  • Trout

Good choices
You can eat 4 ounces of these fish a week if you don’t eat any other seafood that week.

  • Canned or fresh white (albacore) tuna
  • Chilean sea bass or striped bass
  • Grouper
  • Halibut
  • Mahi-mahi
  • Snapper
  • Yellowfin tuna

Fish to avoid
Don’t eat bigeye tuna, king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, or tilefish. They are high in mercury.

Learn more about choosing fish that is healthy and safe to eat.

Drink plenty of fluids.

Your body needs extra fluids, like water and fat-free or low-fat milk, when you are breastfeeding.

  • Try drinking a glass of water every time you breastfeed.
  • Limit or avoid drinks that are high in caffeine or added sugars.

If you choose to drink alcohol, follow these safety tips.

  • Talk with your doctor before you start drinking alcohol.
  • Wait until your baby is at least 3 months old and has a breastfeeding routine.
  • Drink only in moderation – for women, this means no more than 1 drink a day.
  • Plan ahead for how you’ll feed your baby if he gets hungry. For example, pump (express) some breast milk before having any alcohol.
  • Wait at least 4 hours after having a drink before breastfeeding. If you don't wait that long, alcohol in your blood can pass into your breast milk.