Dietary Needs for Mom
Many breastfeeding mothers wonder if their
"normal" diets are good enough to breastfeed. While
breastfeeding mothers are encouraged to eat a well-balanced
diet, it's not "mandatory" for her to do so. It
is often hard to do a really well balanced diet, and many
mothers (breastfeeding or not) don't have a "perfect"
diet. Yet, if she strives to eat a variety of foods, she will
feel better herself and her body will thank her.
To help mothers know what foods, and in what
amounts, would be good for her to consume on a daily basis,
here is a guideline from the Food and Nutrition Board of the
National Research Council.
Food Group and Recommended servings each
Milk Group (or equivalent) - 5 servings
a day (other sources indicate 3 - 4 servings are enough)
Meat, fish, poultry (or equivalent)
- 3 servings a day
Vegetables - 2 servings a day (other
sources increase this to 4 servings daily)
Fruits - 2 servings a day (other sources
increase this to 4 servings daily)
Breads and cereals - 6 servings a day
Other foods (fats and oils) - in moderation
Liquids (in addition to milk, preferably
water) - 6 to 9 servings a day
Desserts and snacks - in moderation.
natural sugars rather than chemical sugar substitutes.
The Basic Food Guide of 2100 to 2900 calories a day includes
the caloric requirements to breastfeed a single baby. Of these
calories, 400 to 500 are needed to breastfeed the baby. When
you are breastfeeding twins, consuming 800 to 1000 additional
calories is recommended. You should add these extra calories
to your normal caloric intake, because your normal caloric
intake maintains your own body's functions and weight. The
Food and Nutrition Board, a division of the National Academy
of Sciences Institute of Medicine, calculated these particular
If you are curious as to what a serving
equals the following guide should help.
Milk/Dairy: One serving equals 1 cup
of milk, 8 ounces (1 cup) of yogurt or 1 to 1½ ounces of natural
Meat/Protein: One serving equals three
ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry or fish.
Vegetables: One serving equals ½ cup
cooked or raw. For leafy vegetables a serving is one full
Bread/Grains: One serving equals 1
slice of bread, ½ hamburger bun or ½ cup cooked cereal.
Because Calcium, Protein and Iron are important, the following
additional information may be helpful to breastfeeding mothers:
Calcium requirements for breastfeeding
mothers, at least 1200mg per day.
Most women do not get enough calcium in their
diets. Breastfeeding mothers need at least 1200 mg per day.
Calcium supplements should include zinc and magnesium, easily
available in supplemental form, to ensure optimal absorption
by the body.
Protein requirements for breastfeeding mothers, about 65g
Most experts indicate that from 10 to 15%
of total calories should be comprised of protein. Breastfeeding
moms need an extra 12 to 15 grams of protein per day. Sources
of protein include meat, fish, liver, poultry, eggs, milk
and soybeans. To try to make this easier for moms, it helps
to know that one glass of milk provides 8 grams of protein,
and one egg provides 7 grams of protein, so it's not too difficult
to get your daily protein requirements in the normal foods
(and in the normal amounts) you eat daily.
Iron requirements for breastfeeding mothers, about 15mg
The RDA iron recommendation for women is 15
mg. Iron is best absorbed in an empty stomach, but if you
eat citrus fruits or tomatoes an hour or so before iron rich
foods, the iron will absorb more efficiently. Mother's consumption
of iron does not influence the amount or concentrations of
iron in breast milk.
You can read more on diet and breastfeeding