How Important Is My Diet During Breastfeeding?

by Laura Shahim, RN, Nurse Manager, Baby-Mother Unit & Lactation Expert, Lenox Hill Hospital 

             For most women, increasing your calorie intake by 300-500 calories from pre-pregnancy is adequate.  What you eat is important for your overall health and well being but does not likely play a major role in the quality of your breast milk.  A breastfeeding mother should not restrict her calories as this may have an impact on milk supply.  

             Current research has shown that alcohol in small quantities is considered safe during breastfeeding.  Alcohol is metabolized in breast milk similarly to how it is metabolized in the blood.  It is advisable to allow approximately 2 hours after one drink before breastfeeding your infant again. There is no need to pump and dump. 

             There are no foods to strictly avoid while breastfeeding.  Most infants will tolerate a variety of food in a mother’s diet.  If you have an infant with allergies or other sensitivities you may want to try to eliminate certain foods to see if your baby improves.  Keep in mind you must eliminate a food for a week or more before seeing any noticeable difference in your baby’s response.  There is no evidence to support that if a mother eats “gassy” foods such as broccoli and cabbage it will cause her baby to be gassy.  Caffeine is also safe in moderation during breastfeeding. 

Focus onHealth TV

Watch Focus onHealth, Northwell Health's TV show. It's the healthy way to stay informed!