13 Nutritional Requirements for Lactating Mothers

Lactating mothers are so special and they have their best lives to enjoy with the baby.

If you’re a new mom, here’s what you need to know:

Your baby requires sucking for 6 months exclusively!

That’s why you have to be careful of whatever you eat at that time. If you eat a healthy diet, it will allow your kid to get the right nutrients needed for his growth.

Remember that at that time, your body requires extra energy. That’s why you can’t afford to avoid increasing calories in your diet.

Your baby requires vitamins, proteins, calcium, and other nutrients. That’s why you need to see a doctor.

He will give you a recommendation of what to eat and how often. A poor diet will result in an adverse effect on your health and that of your infant.

So what are some of the vital nutrients you require to take? Check below.

13 Nutritional Requirements When Breastfeeding

 1). Energy

energy food for pregnant lady

For the first six months after birth, your body will need an additional 500 kcal.

That will reduce in the next six months to 400kcal. You can quickly achieve that by eating at least six to eight slices of bread daily.

By eating a more balanced diet, you will not struggle to achieve the required energy levels.

Remember that for the first six months, your body will be producing 750 ml of breast milk.

The extra demand for energy enables this production. If you are unable to meet it, then your body will use your reserved fat stores.

2). Calcium

calcium food

Some of the food rich in calcium include fortified orange juice and spinach. You can also get it in low-fat dairy products and cereals.

It’s essential for building strong bones and teeth. It also helps in the muscular and nervous system. It is also vital in the circulatory system.

If you are breastfeeding, ensure to take at least 1,000 mg of calcium daily at least for the first six months. Apart from eating food that is rich in calcium, take 500 ml of milk per day.

Milk products are also right. Fish is in calcium though some can be harmful since they might contain mercury in high levels and other toxic substances.

3). Proteins

protein foods

Requirements for protein is not very high as compared to that of energy when breastfeeding.

If you have low energy intake, the proteins will help to produce the required energy.

Some of the food that will help to meet your protein requirements includes an egg or 175 grams of milk. You can also take lean meat, beans, tofu, and peanuts.

It enables your body to get enough protein to help the baby benefit from casein protein through breast milk.

It allows the baby to get calcium and phosphate. It also allows more efficient nutrition by forming a clot in the stomach of the baby.

4). Carbohydrates


You should not eat carbs only when lactating. You should also eat it when pregnant. It provides enough energy that supports your baby’s growth and development.

The best sources of carbohydrates include fruits and vegetables. Whole grains are also vital.

5). Fiber

fiber food

Fiber is an essential nutrient for pregnant or lactating mothers. Many mothers experience constipation when pregnant.

To ease it, you require to take food rich in fiber. They include whole grain such as bread, vegetables, legumes and fruits.

6). Iron

iron food

Have you ever heard of iron-deficiency anemia? To avoid it, you require enough iron during pregnancy and when breastfeeding.

If you lack enough iron, you start feeling tired, and your risk of getting infection will increase.

Some of the food rich in iron include legumes, fortified cereals, and lean meat. You can also take leafy green vegetables.

7). Vitamin A

 vitamin food

To enable the development of your baby’s heart, eyes, and even immune system, you require to eat food rich in vitamin A.

Vitamin A supplements is not recommendable for pregnant women. When taking food rich in vitamin A, don’t exceed 5,000 IU that means 1,500 milligrams.

If you exceed the quality or take lower than required when pregnant, then it will harm the fetus’s development.

Best sources of vitamin A include milk, oranges, vegetables (including sweet potatoes and carrots), and also dark leafy greens.

8). Iodine

iodine food

The thyroid produces a hormone that helps in brain development and even its growth. Your body requires iodine to enable the thyroid gland to work.

If you fail to get the right level of iodine, your baby can be at risk of severe cognitive delay and also thyroid problems. Whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding, use iodine salt every time you are cooking food.

Other food rich in iodine includes seafood, not to mention daily products.

When pregnant should also take prenatal vitamins. It contains 150 micrograms of iodine. You can also get some supplements from your doctor if your vitamins lack enough iodine.

9). Healthy Fats

healthy fatty foods

To fuel the growth and the development of your baby, you require to take unsaturated fats.

During pregnancy, they help in your baby’s brain development as well as his nervous system. You can find this healthy fat in peanuts oil, avocados, and salmon.

Olive oil and canola oil are also a great source of healthy fats. You should take fat in moderation since it has high calories.

10). Vitamin B6

vitamin b6 foods

You can get vitamin B6 in fish, poultry, bananas, and also whole grain. There is also plenty of it in fortified cereals. They are beneficial to the baby since:

  • They form their red blood cells.
  • Breaks down proteins,
  • Break down fats and carbohydrates.
  • It helps in both the development and functioning of the brain.

11). Vitamin B12

vitamin b12 foods

Apart from helping in the formation of your baby’s red blood cells, it also helps in its brain development and function.

You can find it in animal products that include meats, fish, poultry, eggs, and also low-fat milk.

During pregnancy or even when breastfeeding, your doctor can give you supplements, especially if you’re a vegetarian.

12). Vitamin D

vitamin D foods

For you to have healthy bones and teeth, your body requires to have calcium. The work of vitamin D is to ensure that your body can absorb calcium.

To get vitamin D, take fortified orange juice and egg York. You can also drink fat-free milk and salmon.

13). Vitamin C

vitamin c foods

Citrus fruits, broccoli, and tomatoes are rich in Vitamin C. Fortified fruit juice is not exceptional.

It’s vital for the development of your baby’s tooth and bone. It also plays a crucial role in the growth and development of your baby’s tissues. It also helps in iron absorption in the body.

A million-dollar question remains; are there foods you should avoid when lactating? The answer is yes.

After birth, many women get the freedom to eat whatever they want. Whatever you eat brings a particular flavor in your breast milk, and your baby may enjoy it.

You have to be keen when and after breastfeeding your kid. If you realize that your kid is gassy after consuming a particular food, you need to avoid it for some time.

To be sure that that food is the cause, you can take it later on and see if it will have the same effect.

Some of The Foods That You Can Avoid While Breastfeeding Include:

  1. Chocolates
  2. Some fruits like pineapple, strawberry, kiwi fruit, citrus fruit, and also their juices. You should also avoid fruits that have a laxative effect. They include cherries and prune.
  3. Gassy veggies include onions, cabbage, pepper, among others.
  4. Spices- avoid garlic, curry, and chill pepper; some women have also complained of cinnamon.
  5. Caffeine: You should not take more than two cups of caffeine per day when lactating. It will make your baby fussy and can also interfere with his sleep. It’s important to note that some over the counter medication and sodas also contain caffeine. Tea also has caffeine.
  6. Alcoholic drink: When you take more than one glass, it increases the level of alcohol in your blood. It gets in your milk, and your baby will take it. If you take more than one drink, don’t nurse your baby at least until two hours are over. There have been dangerous myths going around that alcohol increases your milk production. The myth is misleading, and it’s not factual — alcohol results in a reduction in milk production.

If you realize that your baby has allergy symptoms, it could be as a result of soap, food, or even mildew. Milk cow products, soy eggs, and corn syrup are common culprits to the baby’s allergy reaction.

The best decision is not to avoid the food but to take the baby to the doctor. If you omit some food, it will result in an imbalanced diet, therefore, affecting your health and that of the baby.

Mothers Concerns About Milk Production

Some mothers struggle with getting enough milk to feed their kids. Some give up and results in the formula.

Others have enough milk, but they still doubt. The best way to know is by checking whether the baby is increasing in weight. If it is, then there is no need for worries.

You can also check the frequency of the wet diapers. Here are the various concerns:

i). Frequent Nursing

Your baby takes one and a half hours to two hours to digest your breast milk. That means you have to increase your frequency of breastfeeding.

Formulary babies take much longer. Your baby requires constant touch with you to feel more secure. If your baby has more desire to suck, don’t deny it.

ii). Growth Spurt

It is an increase in your baby’s frequency to sack or takes a long time when sacking. Some mothers make a mistake of introducing supplements.

That will send a signal to your body that the baby doesn’t require additional milk. Your body will respond according to the demand. If it increases, it will also increase the supply.

iii). Doesn’t Longer Time

Smaller babies tend to suck for long. As it gets bigger, it knows how to nurse more effectively and to extract more at a lesser time. Time duration should not worry you.

iv). Bottle Milk

If you have a habit of breastfeeding and giving the kid bottle milk at the same time, your level of production will reduce.

After sucking for a short time, the baby will look forward to getting the bottle milk, where he will guzzle it down.

v). Breast Not Leaking

In the first months, you will realize that your breast will keep on leaking. Once it adapts to your baby’ baby’ demand, it will stop.

If it stops leaking or leaks a little, that will not mean that your supply has gone low.

vi). Soft Breast

Your breasts will look more firm in the first months. Once they adapt to your baby’s demand, they will soften. You should not mistake softening for the milk being lesser than the demand.

vii). Letdown Sensation

Some women experience the letdown sensation while others don’t. You should not mistake the feeling for the reduction of your milk supply.

ix). No Milk After Pumping

Some people expect the pump to work the same as the baby. If you pump and realize that the milk coming out is little or there is none at all, you need not worry.

Your strong baby can suck more effectively and get all the milk it requires. Some pumps are more effective than others.

Remember that stress can interfere with your milk production.

That’s you need to see a trained breastfeeding counselor, in case your concern about the milk levels increases. You should also take note of whether the baby is gaining weight.


Lactating mothers have to take care of their diet. A poor diet can result in serious health issues for both the mother and the baby.

You need to know the nutrients that you require to take, and also the food you need to avoid.

Various concerns should not make you doubt your milk production. But if your doubts increase, there is a need to see a specialist. He will advise.