Nutrition While Breastfeeding
Just like when you are pregnant, it's best to eat a nutritious, balanced diet while breastfeeding. Be sure to eat and drink to satisfy your hunger and thirst. Talk to your WIC breastfeeding staff to find out how to make healthy choices.
WIC Food Packages
As part of the WIC program, moms receive food packages. What's in the food packages varies based on how often you breastfeed your baby and how much infant formula you receive from WIC. WIC staff can explain the different food packages to you and identify which food package best meets your needs.
Healthy Eating While Breastfeeding
Making healthy food choices—along with regular physical activity—will keep you healthy while you breastfeed. Choose a variety of foods and beverages to build your own healthy eating style. Include foods from all food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and protein foods.
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
- Make at least half your grains whole grains.
- Vary your proteins.
You need more fluids while you are breastfeeding. Be sure to drink enough water to quench your thirst.
Tell your doctor about any supplements you are taking. Prenatal vitamins may not be the right choice for breastfeeding, so ask your doctor if you need a supplement- and if so, which one is right for you.
If you're giving your baby only breast milk or a mix of breast milk and infant formula, start giving them a daily vitamin D supplement soon after birth. Choose a supplement with 10 mcg (400 IU) of vitamin D. Some breastfed babies may also need an iron supplement before age 6 months. Ask your baby's doctor what supplements they need.
It's important to focus on eating healthy, rather than losing baby weight, while you're breastfeeding. Slow weight loss over several months is safest.
Things to Limit or Avoid
Like when you were pregnant, there are things you should limit or avoid while you are breastfeeding to keep your baby happy and healthy.
Limit caffeine. Drinking a small amount of coffee (up to 2 cups a day) or other drinks with caffeine is okay while breastfeeding. Too much caffeine can make your baby fussy or keep baby awake.
Avoid alcohol. It's best to avoid alcohol while you are breastfeeding. If you choose to drink, you may have a single alcoholic drink once in a while if your baby's breastfeeding routine is well established-and if your baby is at least 3 months old. Then, wait at least 4 hours after having a drink before breastfeeding.Avoid smoking, drugs, and other medications. Talk to your doctor before taking any medicine (both over-the-counter and prescription) or dietary supplements.
Baby May React to Foods You Eat
Babies love the flavors of foods that come through your milk. You might be surprised to learn that breast milk typically does not cause allergic reactions in babies and avoiding certain foods does not typically prevent your baby from developing a food allergy. Unless it is recommended by a doctor, you do not need to remove foods from your diet to prevent your baby from developing a food allergy. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, only two or three out of one hundred babies who only receive breast milk have an allergy to it and this is often linked to cow’s milk in the diet of the person who is breastfeeding. If you think your baby might be allergic to your breastmilk, talk to your doctor. Watch your baby for the symptoms listed below, which could mean that your baby has an allergy:
- Severe colic
- Abdominal discomfort
- Diarrhea, green stools with mucus or blood
- Rash, eczema, dermatitis, hives
- Difficulty breathing after breastfeeding.
Talk with your baby's doctor if your baby has any of the symptoms listed above. If your baby ever has problems breathing, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.
You might notice that your baby has other reactions to the foods that you eat. These reactions might include crying, fussiness, or more nursing after you eat certain foods. These are less serious symptoms and go away within 24 hours. If you find that your baby always has trouble after you eat certain foods, you can try to remove these foods from your diet for a while and then gradually add them back one at a time to help identify if a particular food is causing your baby trouble. Talk with your baby’s doctor if symptoms continue. It could be related to another health issue.
- MyPlate for Moms/Moms-to-Be can help you choose foods from each of the food groups.