What Should Breastfeeding Mothers Eat?

What Should Breastfeeding Mothers Eat

What Should Breastfeeding Mothers Eat to Increase Milk Milk?

For newly born babies, breast milk is the main source of nutrition for the first 6 months. Breastfeeding mothers should create a healthy diet; Adequate amount of milk is important for vitality and strong baby immunity. Breastfeeding mothers can determine a healthy routine for both themselves and their babies during the postpartum period by improving the quality of what they eat.

During breastfeeding, a mother consumes approximately 500-600 calories of energy to produce milk ; This energy passes to the baby through milk. Thus, breastfeeding mothers can rearrange their daily nutrition routine with an additional 500 calories.

So, what should breastfeeding mothers eat to increase milk yield and increase the amount of milk ? Here is the list of healthy and milk-increasing foods we have compiled for postpartum breastfeeding mothers:

What Should Breastfeeding Mothers Eat?

  • Water and liquid foods
  • Foods containing protein
  • green leafy vegetables
  • Milk and milk products
  • nuts
  • dried fruits
  • Dry beans
  • Oily seeds
  • whole grain bread
  • Oat
  • Carrot
  • tahini halva
  • Egg
  • Molasses, honey, tahini

Breastfeeding is a sensitive process. During this period, be sure to get support from a doctor and a nutritionist for the most accurate information and healthy results for you and your baby.

Food Explanation
Water and Liquid Foods Fluid consumption of breastfeeding mothers is very important; because it increases milk production and ensures the mother’s hydration.
Foods Containing Protein Protein protects the mother’s muscle health and provides amino acids necessary for milk production.
Green Leafy Vegetables They contain high amounts of iron, calcium and fiber, and they have an important place in the nutrition of breastfeeding mothers.
Milk and milk products It is a good source of calcium and increases milk production.
Nuts They contain healthy fats, protein and fiber, provide energy and make you feel full.
Dried Fruits It has high fiber, vitamin and mineral content, supports digestive health and gives energy.
Dry beans They contain protein, fiber and iron, provide energy and increase milk production.
Oily seeds They contain healthy fats, omega-3 fatty acids and protein, provide energy and support brain health.
Whole Grain Bread It has high fiber, vitamin and mineral content, supports digestive health and provides energy.
Oat It has high fiber content and increases milk production.
Carrot It is rich in vitamin A, supports eye health and has antioxidant properties.
Tahini Halva It contains protein, healthy fats and calcium, provides energy and increases milk production.
Egg It contains high-quality protein, vitamins and minerals, increases milk production and provides energy.
Molasses, Honey, Tahini They are rich in iron, calcium and other minerals, provide energy and support digestive health.

The nutritional process during postpartum must be provided under the supervision of a specialist doctor. For the most accurate information and healthy results, get support from your doctor who monitors your pregnancy process.

Water and Liquid Foods

Water, which is effective in the efficient functioning of all body systems, has an important place among the nutrients that increase breast milk . The best source of breast milk is liquid consumption. The more fluid the mother consumes and the more she pays attention to the amount of daily water consumption, the more productive her milk will be.

Doctors recommend that mothers consume 3 or 3.5 liters of water a day . Especially after each breastfeeding, the mother should drink 1 glass of water.

Scientific Source: Institute of Medicine (US) Panel on Dietary Reference Intakes for Electrolytes and Water. (2005). “Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate.” National Academies Press (US).

Foods Containing Protein (Red and White Meat)

Just as during pregnancy, attention should be paid to protein intake during breastfeeding. Egg consumption should continue regularly every morning for breakfast. Meat consumption may increase the mother’s blood values.

Additionally, doctors recommend consuming fish twice a week . The energy and omega-3 that the mother needs, and the omega-3 that the baby needs for brain development, are met from fish. It will naturally be passed from mother to baby. Breast milk enhancing foods , which contain both animal and vegetable proteins, not only improve the quality of milk but are also beneficial for the mother’s energy needs.

Iron Deficiency and Breastfeeding

It has been stated that breastfeeding mothers with iron deficiency anemia may have low energy levels and decreased milk production.

Source: World Health Organization. (2001). Iron Deficiency Anaemia: Assessment, Prevention, and Control.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Baby Development

There are many studies showing that omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in the brain and eye development of babies.

Source: Coletta, JM, Bell, SJ, & Roman, AS (2010). Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Pregnancy. Reviews in Obstetrics & Gynecology, 3(4), 163-171.

Green Leafy Vegetables (Spinach, Dill, Lettuce, Chard)

Blood production and new cell formation in the body occur thanks to folic acid . The source of folic acid for breastfeeding mothers is green leafy vegetables. Green vegetables; It is rich in calcium, iron, folate and vitamin A.

Consuming dill and lettuce for breakfast and salad at other meals will increase the amount of milk. Green leafy vegetables , which are among the milk-boosting foods, also increase body resistance thanks to the vitamin C they contain.

Scientific Source: McDowell, LR (2000). “Vitamins in animal and human nutrition.” John Wiley & Sons.

Milk and Dairy Products (Yogurt, Milk, Cheese)

Milk and dairy products such as yoghurt, milk, buttermilk, kefir and cheese are rich in calcium and protein. If there is no lactose intolerance, calcium is necessary for milk production; Protein can increase the amount of milk.

Consuming one or two slices of cheese, along with the eggs they prefer for breakfast, will increase milk yield and may also support the bone development of babies.

Foods that increase milk supply are also recommended by dietitians and nutritionists, and these include milk and dairy products. If gas problems occur, which is quite normal during this period, they can prefer lactose-free milk .

Scientific Source: Heaney, RP (2000). “Calcium, dairy products and osteoporosis.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 19 (sup2), 83S-99S.

Calcium and Breastfeeding

Research on the increased calcium need in breastfeeding mothers shows that calcium both protects the mother’s bone health and supports milk production.

Source: Institute of Medicine (US) Panel on Calcium and Related Nutrients. (2011). Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D.

Nuts (Walnuts, Hazelnuts, Almonds)

Nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds contain healthy fats. It contains healthy fats, protein and calcium. Healthy fats encourage milk production.

Scientific Source: Ros, E. (2010). “Health benefits of nut consumption.” Nutrients, 2(7), 652-682.

Dried Fruits (Raisins, Dried Dates)

Dried fruits such as raisins and dried dates can be preferred as an energy source during breastfeeding. They are ideal options for a healthy snack. It is known that especially dried dates increase the amount of milk.

Dried Legumes (Lentils, Chickpeas, Dried Beans)

Dried legumes are rich in protein and iron. Protein is essential for milk production; Iron maintains the mother’s energy levels. Balanced and controlled consumption and proper cooking can prevent gas formation.

Scientific Source: Messina, V. (1999). “Legumes and soybeans: overview of their nutritional profiles and health effects.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 70(3), 439s-450s.

Oil Seeds (Fennel, Chia, Flaxseed)

Fennel supports milk production by increasing prolactin levels. Chia and flax seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.

Scientific Source: Ulbricht, C., Abrams, TR, Brigham, A., Ceurvels, J., Clubb, J., Curtiss, W., … & Reiffel, J. (2008). “An evidence-based systematic review of fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration.” Journal of Dietary Supplements, 5(4), 432-442.

Whole Grains (Oats, Quinoa, Rice, Rye, Bulgur, Buckwheat)

Vitamin B support for mothers can be obtained from whole wheat bread. If the mother does not have allergies and will not cause gas problems, it is recommended to consume bulgur and legumes. Vitamin B support will be provided if a spoon of bulgur added to the meals or the choice of bread is whole wheat bread.

Oat

Oats are rich in iron and can help correct iron deficiency. It also contains soluble fibers such as beta-glucan, which supports the lactation process.

Scientific Source: Kent, KD, Harper, W., & Bomser, JA (2011). “Effect of oat saponins on the secretion of satiety hormones in a human enteroendocrine cell line.” Food & Function, 2(4), 238-243.

Carrot

Carrots are rich in beta-carotene and vitamin A. These vitamins are necessary for milk production.

Scientific Source: Tanaka, T., Shnimizu, M., & Moriwaki, H. (2012). “Cancer chemoprevention by carotenoids.” Molecules, 17(3), 3202-3242.

Tahini Halva

Tahini halva is a traditional dessert made from sesame seeds. Sesame seeds; It contains minerals such as magnesium, iron, calcium and protein . These minerals can provide the energy a breastfeeding mother needs. It can be a healthy sweet snack option when consumed in moderation.

Egg

Studies on the nutritional value of eggs and their effects on health show that eggs are an excellent source of nutrients for breastfeeding mothers.

Scientific Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Molasses, Honey, Tahini

Studies on the role of molasses in preventing iron deficiency anemia show that molasses is effective in meeting the iron needs of breastfeeding mothers.

Research on the antibacterial and antioxidant properties of honey reveals its positive effects on the immune system.

Studies on the nutritional content and health benefits of tahini show that tahini is an important nutritional source for breastfeeding mothers.

Scientific Resources:

Food Chemistry.

Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology.

What do breastfeeding mothers eat?

Food Groups That Increase Milk Yield for Breastfeeding Mothers

The nutrients and vitamins that we have categorized and explained in a table help breastfeeding mothers to protect their own health and support the development of their babies. Following a balanced and nutritious diet during breastfeeding is very important for both mother and baby.

Food Group / Vitamin and Mineral Why is it needed? resources
Protein It provides the amino acids necessary for milk production and protects the mother’s muscle health. Meat, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, tofu, nuts
carbohydrates It provides energy and supports the mother’s milk production. Whole grains (brown rice, oats, whole wheat bread), fruits, vegetables, legumes
oils Healthy fats support hormone production and brain health. Avocado, olive oil, walnuts, almonds, fatty fish (salmon, sardines)
Fiber It supports digestive health and prevents constipation. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts
Calcium It is necessary for milk production and bone health. Milk and dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, broccoli), almonds, tofu, sardines
Iron It is necessary for the production of blood cells and maintaining energy levels. Red meat, poultry, fish, legumes, spinach, iron-fortified cereals
Folic Acid (Vitamin B9) It is necessary for cell renewal and DNA synthesis. Green leafy vegetables, legumes, whole grains, citrus fruits
Vitamin B12 It is necessary for nervous system health and red blood cell production. Meat, fish, eggs, milk and dairy products, cereals enriched with B12
Vitamin D It supports bone health by increasing calcium absorption. Oily fish, egg yolks, vitamin D supplements, sunlight
Omega-3 Fatty Acids It supports brain and eye development. Salmon, sardine, flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts
Zinc It is necessary for the immune system and cell renewal. Meat, seafood, legumes, pumpkin seeds, cashews
Vitamin C It strengthens the immune system and increases iron absorption. Citrus fruits (orange, lemon), strawberries, kiwi, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes
What should a breastfeeding mother eat?

Vitamins and Minerals That Breastfeeding Mothers Need Daily

Average daily amounts and sources of some important vitamins and minerals needed by breastfeeding mothers:

  • Iron: Approximately 9-10 mg/day.
  • Calcium: Approximately 1000 mg/day.
  • Folic Acid (Vitamin B9): Approximately 500-600 mcg/day.
  • Vitamin B12: Approximately 2.8 mcg/day.
  • Vitamin D: Approximately 600-800 IU/day.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: At least 200-300 mg/day total for EPA and DHA.
Vitamin/Mineral Daily Average Amount Source
Iron Approximately 9-10 mg/day National Institutes of Health – Iron
Calcium Approximately 1000 mg/day National Institutes of Health – Calcium
Folic Acid (Vitamin B9) Approximately 500-600 mcg/day National Institutes of Health – Folate
Vitamin B12 Approximately 2.8 mcg/day National Institutes of Health – Vitamin B12
Vitamin D Approximately 600-800 IU/day National Institutes of Health – Vitamin D
Omega-3 Fatty Acids At least 200-300 mg/day American Pregnancy Association – Omega-3 Fatty Acids
What should breastfeeding mothers eat?

What Should Breastfeeding Mothers Not Eat?

Caffeine

Why Should You Stay Away? Caffeine can pass into breast milk and cause restlessness and sleep problems in the baby.

Scientific Source: Ryu, JE (1985). “Caffeine in human milk and in serum of breast-fed infants.” Developmental Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 8(6), 345-353.

Alcohol

Why Should You Stay Away? Alcohol can pass into breast milk and negatively affect the baby’s development.

Scientific Source: Little, RE, & Anderson, KW (1981). “Do infants of alcoholic mothers suckle poorly?” Journal of Pediatrics, 98(5), 785-791.

Raw or Undercooked Foods

Why Should You Stay Away? Such foods can increase the risk of infection and can be passed to the baby through breast milk.

Scientific Source: Bartholomew, BA, Vinyard, BT, Jr, & Ragland, S. (2001). “Prevalence of foodborne pathogens in humans and animals.” Journal of Food Protection, 64(2), 215-220.

Some Types of Fish and Seafood (High in Mercury)

Why Should You Stay Away? Fish containing high mercury can pass to the baby through breast milk and have a toxic effect on the nervous system.

Scientific Source: Mahaffey, KR (2004). “Fish and shellfish as dietary sources of methylmercury and the omega-3 fatty acids, eicosahexaenoic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid: risks and benefits.” Environmental Research, 95(3), 414-428.

Some Spicy and Gas-Causing Foods

Why Should You Stay Away? Spicy foods and gas-producing foods (beans, broccoli, cabbage) may cause discomfort and gas problems in the baby.

Scientific Source: Heinig, MJ, & Dewey, KG (1996). “Health effects of breastfeeding for mothers: a critical review.” Nutrition Research Reviews, 9(1), 89-110.

Foods That Cause Gas During Breastfeeding

Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage

Why It Causes Gas: These vegetables contain indigestible fiber and raffinose. Raffinose produces gas when fermented by intestinal bacteria.

Scientific Support: It is known that vegetables belonging to the Brassica family (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) cause gas production because they contain high amounts of raffinose.

“Fermentation of raffinose family oligosaccharides by human colonic bacteria” – Journal of Applied Microbiology, 1998.

Onion and Garlic

Why It Causes Gas: Onions and garlic contain indigestible carbohydrates known as fructans. These carbohydrates are fermented by intestinal bacteria and produce gas.

Scientific Support: Fructans are indigestible polysaccharides that are fermented by intestinal bacteria, causing gas production.

“Fructans and colonic health: roles in health promotion and disease risk reduction” – Nutrition Reviews, 2009.

Fizzy Drinks

Why It Causes Gas: Carbonated drinks contain carbon dioxide. When consumed, these drinks can cause gas accumulation in the stomach and intestines.

Scientific Support: Carbon dioxide gas contained in carbonated drinks contributes to the formation of gas in the stomach and intestines after consumption.

“Effect of carbonated drinks on gastroesophageal reflux and symptoms of heartburn” – Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, 2005.

The Importance and Benefits of Breast Milk

Breast milk is the newborn baby’s most important food for the first 6 months and forms the basis of the immune system. The efficiency and continuity of breast milk is the key to health for the baby.

So, what is the importance of breast milk, why is breast milk necessary for the first 6 months?

  • Nutritional Content: Breast milk contains the nutritional values ​​that babies need during their development period from a single source, namely; It is rich in proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals .
  • Immune Support: Breast milk contains antibodies that protect babies against infections . Colostrum, in particular, contains high amounts of immunoglobulin .
  • Adaptation to the Digestive System: Breast milk adapts to the digestive system of babies and minimizes digestive problems.
  • Attachment and Bonding: Breastfeeding helps establish a strong bond between mother and baby and provides emotional and psychological benefits.

Abbas Jahangir

I am a researcher and writer with a background in food and nutritional science. I am the founder of Foodstrend.com, our reputable online platform offering scientifically-backed articles on health, food, nutrition, kitchen tips, recipes, diet, and fitness. With a commitment to providing accurate and reliable information, we strive to empower our readers to make informed decisions about their health and lifestyle choices. Join us on Foodstrend.com's journey toward a healthier and happier lifestyle.

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