Whether you are nursing or pumping...lactation changes nutrient
requirements for mothers.
Today we will review some basics on nutrition and lactation.
Making nutrient rich milk for your baby depletes your body's stores…..
So if you are exclusively breastfeeding or pumping you NEED more calories
and nutrients to make up for that….but not too much….. So you allow a
gradual loss of pregnancy weight .
Again...…..not too little and not too much but JUST RIGHT!
magic number for most women is 350-500 extra calories per day in the
first 6 months
in order to keep your nutrient stores maintained. That comes to a total
daily calories intake for most women who are breastfeeding or pumping
around 2100 to 2700 calories.
Of course women come in all different shapes and sizes and there is not a
one size fit all approach. Some moms may need less calories and some more ,
depending on their baseline weight, weight gain in pregnancy and if there
is a change in feeding choices . Always reach out to a nutritionist for
further guidance if needed based on your specific needs.
Sorry, not this time!
(Unless you have severe malnutrition).
Even if you do not get the recommended calories your breast milk production
will not change. This is mostly dependent on how often you nurse or pump
(which stimulates more milk production).
What about what's in your breastmilk?
There are two types of nutrients:
are the nutrients the body needs in LARGE amounts to provide energy and
maintain body function). This includes fats, proteins, carbohydrates. This does not change in your breastmilk based on your nutrition
( unless severely malnourished).
are the nutrients your body needs in SMALLER amounts to maintain optimal
health, growth and development. This includes vitamins and minerals.
Poor nutrition CAN affect the amount of micronutrients in your
If you are not getting adequate amounts of these in your diet you may need
supplements to ensure good breast milk quality.
Let’s go through a few important micronutrients…….
is a mineral used to form thyroid hormones which are needed for neurological development of your newborn.
Usually your diet may not contain enough iodine to meet daily requirements
(290 micrograms in lactating women- which is double the amount in
nonlactating women...) that is why the
American Academy of Pediatrics ( AAP) recommends that women who are
breastfeeding or pumping take a multivitamin or supplement with 150
micrograms of iodine.
Here are some good sources of Iodine:
Your baby needs vitamin B12 for proper red blood cell formation and brain
development. A deficiency of vitamin B12 in baby’s may lead to permanent
Yeah that sounds horrible- I know! But don’t worry... If you love to eat
everything….you will likely have enough vitamin B12 stores as it is
naturally found in most animal products: red meat, chicken, fish, eggs,
So if YOU have enough- your BABY will have enough!
If you are following a vegan or vegetarian diet you may be
at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency. Although some breakfast cereals and
other food products may have added vitamin B12…….that may not be enough.
You may need to take a
vitamin B12 supplement to ensure your baby is getting enough of this
Breast milk contains very little iron….. And babies need iron to make
hemoglobin which helps red blood cells to carry oxygen all around.
Your baby has enough iron stores until 4 months. At 4 months the American
Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recommended daily iron supplements for all
exclusively breast milk fed babies until they start solids.
Your iron levels are important too ...so you can maintain your energy
Additional iron may be needed and given by your healthcare
provider…...especially if you have low blood count after the delivery. But
remember that iron can cause constipation so make sure to increase your
Not this time!
Breast milk is low in vitamin D even if you haven enough.
Vitamin D is important for the baby’s bones. That is why the
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all infants on
breast milk get Vitamin D supplements soon after birth.
What about the sun? Well yes...skin exposed to sunlight does produce
vitamin D however the AAP recommends that infants avoid direct sunlight
exposure to decrease long term risk of skin cancer.
Breast feeding and pumping can cause a temporary decrease in your bone
So to keep your bones strong….if you are breastfeeding or pumping you…...
should try to have 1300mg of calcium per day either with diet and
supplements if needed.
Here are just some rich sources of calcium:
You have all heard about omega-3-fatty acids(DHA) DURING your pregnancy.
Well..they are just as important for infant brain development AFTER
delivery as well.
That is why the AAP recommends that lactating women take 200-300mg of
omega-3 fatty acids per day.
Best dietary source of DHA is through 1-2 servings of fish...but be sure to
eat fish with the lowest mercury content!
Phew you did it!
You learned a little about some of the most important nutrients for you and
your baby during your time breastfeeding or pumping.
Good news…..you don’t have to memorize them all!
MaternalWell text support is here for you for any general questions!
*For more specific concerns or food recommendations reach out to our
licensed nutritionists specializing in pregnancy and postpartum nutrition
or to your healthcare provider.