The Best Breastfeeding Diet Plan, According To Experts

Ad failed to load

If you are like most new moms, you started to feel pressure to lose the "baby weight" as soon as you brought your baby home from the hospital. It's unfair, dangerous, and debilitating, especially if you choose to breastfeed and consequently feel like you are starving all damn day. You might to wonder if there's a special diet you should follow not only make enough milk for your baby, but fuel your life as a new mom. Is it even OK to try to lose weight while breastfeeding? According to experts the best breastfeeding diet plan doesn't involve restricting calories or "watching what you eat," so you may want to cut yourself some slack.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), breastfeeding women have different nutritional needs than pregnant or non-lactating women, requiring additional calories to ensure that they can make enough milk to feed their babies, that their breast milk contains sufficient nutrients, and also to ensure that they stay healthy during and after their lactating years. If you do choose to attempt to lose weight while breastfeeding, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends taking things slow, eating healthier, and adding moderate exercise instead of restricting calories. It's also OK to not diet while breastfeeding. Recovering from childbirth is no joke, breastfeeding is difficult, and you deserve to treat yourself well and eat what you like, when you like, and for as long as you like.

Ad failed to load

According to the NIH, breastfeeding moms need about 450 to 500 additional calories per day to make a sufficient amount of milk for their babies. That means you should eat a whooping 2,300 to 2,700 calories a day, if you don't get much exercise, and even more once you feel up to adding a significant amount of movement to your day. If your diet is already well-balanced, it's OK to simply increase the amount of food you eat each day to fuel your body and ensure that you make enough milk. However, if you're like me and you struggle to eat fruits and veggies, are a vegetarian or vegan, or eat an otherwise restricted diet, you may need to do some meal planning to get the right nutrients to fuel your body and ensure your breast milk has everything your baby needs.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, breastfeeding moms have additional dietary requirements when it comes to vitamins and minerals. They recommend eating fresh or frozen veggies and fruits containing plenty of vitamin A and potassium, like carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, tomatoes, bananas, and mangoes. The same site recommends that nursing moms get plenty of calcium-rich foods like milk, yogurt, and cheese (yay cheese), especially those fortified with vitamins A and D, whole grains, and lean protein. If you eat fish like tuna, they suggest limiting your weekly consumption to 6 ounces or less, and if you don't eat fish, you might consider adding a docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplement in addition to your prenatal vitamin for omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for you and your baby.

Ad failed to load

You may have read that there are foods, beverages, or supplements that can increase your breast milk supply. Unfortunately, according to Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, there is only anecdotal evidence that foods or beverages — like oatmeal, beer, or lactation cookies — can actually increase your breast milk supply. There is, however, evidence that what you eat can impact the quality of your breast milk. The U.S. Institute of Medicine Committee on Nutritional Status During Pregnancy and Lactation recommends that lactating women eat a variety of foods rich in calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin B6, and folate, both to ensure that their milk has everything baby needs and that they get adequate nutrition while breastfeeding.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, if you do decide to try to lose weight while breastfeeding, it's important to take things slow, aiming to lose no more than a pound a week. They recommend not eating less than 1,800 calories per day, so as to not impact your breast milk supply. The same site notes that while you may have heard that breastfeeding will help the pounds "melt off" after childbirth, your mileage may vary in this regard, so you shouldn't feel discouraged if you can't lose weight right away. They recommend to fill your plate half-way with fresh fruits and vegetables, eat at least three servings of calcium-rich dairy a day, select whole grains over refined flour and white rice, and eat plenty of protein, including lean meat, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, or nuts.

The bottom line: while you may feel pressure to both breastfeed and lose the baby weight after your baby is born, recovering from childbirth and breastfeeding are not easy, and it's important that you acquire adequate nutrition and hydration so you and your baby can thrive. Postpartum life is hard enough without adding more to your plate by trying to diet or lose weight at the same time. It might be time to cut yourself some slack and have an extra helping of cheese or ice cream instead. Calcium is super important for breastfeeding moms, you know. And besides, you deserve it.  

Ad failed to load

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Ad failed to load

Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

8 Things That *Will* Go Wrong Every Time You Plan A Kid-Free Night

The last time my husband and I went out to dinner alone was… actually, I can’t remember. But I can count on one hand how many times I’ve seen a movie in a theater in the last year. Before we had children we used to go out all the time. But even with …
By Liza Wyles

These Photos Of North West Then & Now Will Take You On A Sweet Trip Down Memory Lane

When Kim Kardashian welcomed her first daughter, North West, with her husband, Kanye West, in 2013, her whole life was changed. The social media and reality TV star became a mom for the first time and her Instagram presence took a very adorable turn.…
By Casey Suglia

11 Photos You *Must* Take During The Last Days Of Your Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I took a photo each week to document my growing belly. I stopped around 36 weeks, though. I hated how I looked in those pictures, and didn't think I'd want to relive those moments. I was wrong. My second pregnancy was a dum…
By Steph Montgomery

This Is What It Means If Your Pregnancy Test Changes Overnight

The time between when a woman suspects she might be pregnant and when it is confirmed for sure is the longest of her life. Regardless of whether you are hoping for a positive or a negative result, the odds are good that you are sweating bullets when …
By Shannon Evans

6 Red Flags To Definitely Look Out For After Your Baby Falls

The first time my infant son tried to take a few steps, he tumbled and bumped his head on the coffee table. My blood turned to ice in my veins and I froze. There truly isn't anything quite like the feeling a parent gets when their little one gets hur…
By Sarah Bunton

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

This Woman Thought She Had An Eyelash Stuck In Her Eye. Then It Moved.

I'm not a person who is easily icked out. As a kid, I collected bugs and thought I was going to be an entomologist and asked Santa Claus for ant farms and nets to catch bees. I'm still super curious about anything that flies and crawls, which might s…
By Karen Fratti

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

11 Ways Your Pregnancy Will Be Different If You Have A Boy Vs A Girl

If you've been pregnant before, you might start comparing your previous pregnancies to that of your current pregnancy. A lot of things can change from pregnancy to pregnancy, based on a whole host of different factors (including how well you remember…
By Lauren Schumacker

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

12 Moms Share How They Stay Healthy During Flu Season

Unfortunately, we're in the middle of the roughest flu seasons in recent memory. And we’re not totally out of the woods, either. People around the country are still getting the flu, and, sadly, some of them are having to be hospitalized due to flu-re…
By Priscilla Blossom

8 "Mistakes" I'm Glad I Made During My First Pregnancy

As an adult, I've learned you never really stop hating being told what to do. When I was pregnant I was getting instructions at every turn, from doctors, relatives, and complete strangers on the subway. I would nod and smile but then go about making …
By Liza Wyles

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack