Can I Eat That? I’m Breastfeeding

by Ella

Breastfeeding is a remarkable and vital experience for both mother and baby. As a nursing mother, your body goes through numerous changes to provide essential nutrients and nourishment to your newborn. To ensure your baby’s health and growth, as well as your own well-being, it’s crucial to maintain a balanced and nutritious diet during this phase. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide to help breastfeeding mothers make informed dietary choices for optimal health.

Key Nutrients for Breastfeeding Mothers

Protein: Protein is vital for tissue repair, immune function, and milk production. Include lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and plant-based protein sources such as tofu and lentils in your daily meals.


See Also: 10 Protein-Rich Foods That Surpass an Egg


Calcium: Calcium is essential for maintaining bone health for both you and your baby. Incorporate dairy products, fortified plant-based milk, leafy greens, almonds, and chia seeds into your diet to meet your calcium needs.


See Also: Top 15 Calcium-Rich Foods & Benefits


Iron: Preventing anemia and ensuring adequate oxygen transport are among iron’s critical roles. Lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils, spinach, and fortified cereals are excellent sources of iron.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Essential for brain development and overall health, omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish (like salmon and trout), flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.

Folate: Folate supports the prevention of birth defects. Incorporate leafy greens, citrus fruits, beans, and fortified grains to ensure you’re meeting your folate requirements.

Vitamin D: Crucial for immune function and bone health, vitamin D can be obtained from sunlight exposure and vitamin D-fortified foods, including dairy and plant-based milk alternatives.

Hydration: Staying adequately hydrated supports milk production. Aim for around 8-10 glasses of water daily, increasing your intake if you’re thirsty or physically active.

See Also: Breastfeeding Nutrition: Tips for Moms

Do I need extra calories while breastfeeding?

Yes, breastfeeding requires additional calories to support both your own energy needs and the production of breast milk for your baby. The exact number of extra calories you need varies depending on factors such as your pre-pregnancy weight, activity level, and how much milk you’re producing. On average, breastfeeding mothers may require around 300 to 500 extra calories per day compared to their pre-pregnancy intake.

To get these extra calories, opt for nutrient-rich choices, such as a slice of whole-grain bread with a tablespoon (about 16 grams) of peanut butter, a medium banana or apple, and 8 ounces (about 227 grams) of yogurt.

Can I Eat Fish While Breastfeeding?

Yes, you can eat fish while breastfeeding. In fact, fish can be a healthy and nutritious part of your diet during this time. Fish is a good source of high-quality protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and various vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D and iodine, which are important for both your health and the development of your baby.

However, there are a few things to consider:

Mercury Content: Some fish can contain high levels of mercury, which can be harmful to your baby’s developing nervous system. It’s recommended to avoid high-mercury fish such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish.

Choose Low-Mercury Fish: Opt for fish that are lower in mercury, such as salmon, trout, sardines, and anchovies. These fish are not only safer but also provide beneficial nutrients.

Cooking Methods: Prepare fish using healthy cooking methods like grilling, baking, or steaming. Avoid deep-frying, as it can add unnecessary calories and unhealthy fats.

Local Recommendations: The recommendations on fish consumption during breastfeeding may vary based on your geographic location and local fish populations. Some regions might have specific guidelines due to variations in fish mercury levels.

See Also: The Best Fish to Eat During Pregnancy: A Comprehensive Guide

Can I Eat Spicy Foods While Breastfeeding?

Yes, you can generally eat spicy foods while breastfeeding. Eating spicy foods doesn’t typically have a direct impact on breastfeeding, and most babies tolerate the flavors that come through breast milk without any issues. However, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Baby’s Reaction: Some babies might be more sensitive to certain flavors, including spicy foods. If you notice that your baby seems fussy, gassy, or irritable after you’ve eaten a particularly spicy meal, it’s possible that the spices could be causing discomfort. In such cases, you might want to observe your baby’s reactions and adjust your diet accordingly.

Moderation: While it’s generally safe to eat spicy foods, consuming excessively spicy meals might lead to digestive discomfort for you and potentially affect the taste of your breast milk. It’s a good idea to start with milder levels of spiciness and gradually increase if you find that your baby is tolerating it well.

Allergies: Some spicy ingredients, such as certain types of peppers, can be allergenic. If you or your family has a history of food allergies, be cautious when introducing spicy foods into your diet.

Hydration: Spicy foods can sometimes lead to increased thirst. Make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, as dehydration can affect both your well-being and your breast milk supply.

Can I Eat Peppermint, Parsley, and Sage While Breastfeeding?

The consumption of peppermint, parsley, and sage while breastfeeding is generally considered safe in normal culinary amounts. They’re full of flavor. But some herbs may affect how much milk your body makes. For instance, eating a lot of parsley could curb lactation. And too much sage and peppermint may cut your milk supply. For some nursing moms, even peppermint-flavored toothpaste and candies are a problem.

Can I Drink Milk While Breastfeeding?

Yes, you can absolutely drink milk while breastfeeding. In fact, milk and dairy products can be a valuable part of your diet, providing you with important nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, protein, and various vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are not only essential for your own health but also for the development of your baby.However, there are a few things to consider:

Lactose Intolerance: Some individuals are lactose intolerant, which means their bodies have difficulty digesting lactose, the sugar found in milk and dairy products. If you suspect you might be lactose intolerant, you could try lactose-free dairy products or alternative milk options such as almond milk, soy milk, or oat milk.

Allergies: While lactose intolerance is related to a problem with digesting lactose, a milk allergy is a response by the immune system to proteins found in milk. True milk allergies are relatively rare in adults but can occur. If you suspect a milk allergy, consult a healthcare professional for guidance.

Can I Drink Tea While Breastfeeding?

Yes, you can generally drink tea while breastfeeding. Many herbal teas are considered safe and can be a comforting and soothing beverage for nursing mothers. However, there are some important considerations to keep in mind:

Herbal Teas: Herbal teas are typically caffeine-free and are made from a variety of plants and herbs. Some herbal teas, like chamomile, ginger, rooibos, and peppermint, are often enjoyed by breastfeeding mothers. These teas are usually safe in moderation.

Caffeine: While herbal teas are generally caffeine-free, if you’re considering drinking non-herbal teas (like black, green, or white tea), be mindful of the caffeine content. High caffeine intake might affect both you and your baby, potentially causing sleep disturbances or fussiness.

Fenugreek and Fennel: Fenugreek and fennel are herbs that are sometimes used to help promote milk supply in breastfeeding mothers. Fenugreek, in particular, is believed to have lactogenic properties. However, its effects can vary from person to person, and some women might experience adverse reactions.

Can I Eat Eggs, Peanuts, and Nuts While Breastfeeding?

Yes, you can eat eggs, peanuts, and nuts while breastfeeding, unless you have known allergies to these foods. In fact, these foods can be a valuable part of your diet, providing essential nutrients such as protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. However, there are some important considerations to keep in mind:

Eggs: Eggs are a good source of protein and other nutrients like vitamin D and choline. If you don’t have an egg allergy, you can enjoy eggs as part of a balanced diet while breastfeeding. Cooking eggs thoroughly reduces the risk of any potential bacterial contamination.

Peanuts and Nuts: Peanuts and nuts are nutrient-dense foods that provide healthy fats, protein, and various vitamins and minerals. Unless you have a nut allergy, you can include a variety of nuts in your diet. Nuts can be a great snack option for nursing mothers.

Allergies: If you have a personal history of allergies to eggs, peanuts, or nuts, it’s important to be cautious.

See Also: Nuts & Seeds: Types, Health Benefits & Warnings

Can I Drink Sugary Drinks While Breastfeeding?

While you can technically consume sugary drinks while breastfeeding, it’s generally a good idea to be mindful of your sugar intake and opt for healthier beverage options. Here’s why:

Nutritional Value: Sugary drinks like soda, fruit juices with added sugars, and certain energy drinks often contain a high amount of added sugars and very little nutritional value. These drinks can contribute to excessive calorie consumption without providing the necessary nutrients your body needs.

Blood Sugar Control: Consistently consuming sugary drinks can lead to spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels. This can leave you feeling fatigued and irritable, which is not ideal when you’re already dealing with the demands of breastfeeding.

Can I Consume Alcohol While Breastfeeding?

The consumption of alcohol while breastfeeding requires careful consideration. While some guidelines allow for occasional and moderate alcohol consumption, it’s important to be aware of potential risks and to make informed decisions for the well-being of both you and your baby. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Wait for Alcohol to Clear: Alcohol does pass into breast milk, and its concentration is similar to that in your bloodstream. It’s recommended to wait a certain amount of time after consuming alcohol before breastfeeding again. This allows your body to metabolize and eliminate the alcohol from your system. The exact timing varies depending on factors like your weight, the amount of alcohol consumed, and your metabolism. On average, it might take about 2 to 3 hours for the body to process one standard drink.

Moderation: If you choose to consume alcohol, do so in moderation. The occasional drink is generally considered safe if you plan your breastfeeding schedule carefully.

Pump and Store: If you know you’ll be having a drink, you might consider pumping and storing breast milk ahead of time. This way, you can offer your baby milk that was expressed before you consumed alcohol.

Breastfeeding Planning: If you’re planning to have a drink, you can time it for after a breastfeeding session. This can allow more time for the alcohol to clear from your system before the next feed.

Alcohol Levels: The concentration of alcohol in breast milk peaks about 30 to 90 minutes after consumption. After that, it gradually decreases as your body processes the alcohol.

Potential Effects on Milk Production: Some studies suggest that excessive alcohol consumption might temporarily decrease milk production. However, moderate consumption is less likely to have a significant effect on milk supply.

Consider Your Baby: Babies metabolize alcohol more slowly than adults, and it can affect their sleep patterns and behavior. Some experts recommend avoiding breastfeeding during the peak alcohol concentration period (about 30-90 minutes after consumption).

Can I Eat Gassy Foods While Breastfeeding?

Common culprits include beans, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. Bloating, burping, and passing gas are normal. But if your baby is gassy or has colic, avoid these foods for a few weeks to see whether they relieve the symptoms.

Can I Eat Chocolate and Coffee While Breastfeeding?

Yes, you can generally consume chocolate and coffee while breastfeeding.

Chocolate: Chocolate contains a small amount of caffeine, which is a stimulant. While the caffeine content in chocolate is lower compared to coffee, some babies might be sensitive to even small amounts of caffeine. It’s generally safe to enjoy chocolate in moderation, but if you notice that your baby becomes fussy, irritable, or has trouble sleeping after you’ve consumed chocolate, it might be related to the caffeine content.

Coffee: Coffee contains a higher amount of caffeine compared to chocolate. If you’re a coffee drinker, moderate caffeine consumption is usually considered safe while breastfeeding. However, excessive caffeine intake can potentially lead to sleep disturbances in your baby.

Here are some tips for consuming chocolate and coffee while breastfeeding:

  • Moderation: Consume chocolate and coffee in moderation to avoid excessive caffeine intake. Limiting caffeine to around 200-300 mg per day (roughly one 12-ounce cup of coffee) is often recommended.
  • Timing: Consider timing your consumption of caffeine-containing foods and beverages. If you’re breastfeeding frequently, you might choose to have coffee right after a feeding to allow more time for the caffeine to metabolize before your baby’s next feed.

Allergies in baby

In rare cases a breastfeeding baby may develop a food allergy to foods the mother is eating. The most common symptoms are green, mucus-like and blood-specked stools. Colic and reflux are not usually caused by food allergies.

The most common foods that cause allergies are dairy products, soy products, wheat and eggs. Less common foods that cause allergies include fish, nuts, peanuts or corn. A baby could develop an allergy to any food you eat.

Keeping a food diary of symptoms along with what you eat might help you know which foods are causing the problem. As long as your baby is gaining weight and not anemic, the allergy is not going to cause any long-term problems. You do not need to stop breastfeeding.

Removing the suspected foods from your diet by carefully reading all food labels should solve the problem but it may take 4-6 weeks for the infant’s symptoms to resolve. A visit with a registered dietitian experienced with food allergies may help you plan your diet.


Breastfeeding is a remarkable journey that provides numerous benefits to both mother and baby. Nourishing your body with a balanced and nutritious diet is essential for optimal lactation, postpartum recovery, and overall well-being. By focusing on a diverse range of nutrient-rich foods, staying hydrated, and seeking professional guidance when needed, you can ensure that both you and your baby thrive during this special phase of life.



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