New breastfeeding moms are often given extensive information on what foods may affect her baby. But what you eat while you are breastfeeding can also affect your own health, sense of well-being and milk supply. Le Bonheur Registered Lactation Consultant Ruth Munday shares her knowledge of best and worst foods for milk supply as well as diet recommendations for the breastfeeding mom.

A general diet with increased intakes of calories, proteins, vitamins and minerals is recommended, however your diet does not have to be perfect in order to breastfeed successfully. You need enough calories to maintain milk production and to provide the nutrients that you and your baby need.Breastfeeding_large

  • Avoid diets and medications that promise rapid weight loss
  • Avoid excess exercise which can decrease your milk supply
  • Unless you react to a food or you see a reaction in your baby after eating a particular food, you do not need to restrict it from your diet. Most mothers can eat any food they like without it causing a problem for their infants. A mother's varied diet may be an advantage to her breastfeeding baby because it alters the flavor of her milk, providing the baby with a variety of tastes that will prepare the baby for solid foods later.
  • Eat a wide variety of breads and cereal grains, fruits, vegetables, milk products, meats or meat alternatives each day.
  • Excess amounts of Vitamin C and Vitamin B act as an antihistamine and may decrease your milk supply
  • It is normal for your mouth to feel dry after pumping or nursing.  This is from the release of breastfeeding hormones.
  • Goal is to have at least 8 cups (or 64 ounces) of water and/or other fluid each day.  Some mothers may need more or less. It is important to listen to your body and drink when you feel thirsty. 
  • Drinking excess fluids will not help increase your milk supply.
  • Limit caffeine to 2 cups or less per day (cut it out entirely if you have very low milk supply).

Top 5 foods that may help increase your milk supply

  1. Oatmeal - anyway you can get it in your diet (hot cereal, granola bars, oatmeal squares)       
  2. Almonds and other nuts/seeds - by themselves or in foods (put a ziplock bag of them in your purse to munch!)
  3. Chicken - anyway you like it (chicken soup is great, or baked chicken)     
  4. Turkey - anyway you like it (avoid dressing with sage)
  5. Grains: wheat, barley, corn meal, buckwheat, rice, quinoa

Top 5 food / drinks to avoid if you have a low milk supply:

  1. Carbonated beverages           
  2. Caffeine - coffee, black tea, green tea, etc.                
  3. Vitamin C & Vitamin B –supplements or drinks with excessive vitamin C  Or B (Vitamin Water, Powerade, oranges/orange juice and citrus fruits/juice.)                       
  4. Peppermint or spearmint(food, gum or candy with mint flavor)
  5. Sage: (sausage, dressing, wild rice mix, etc)

Talk with your doctor or lactation consultant regarding any additional questions or concerns you may have about your diet. If you have questions and would like to speak with a Le Bonheur lactation consultant, call the TN Breastfeeding Hotline any time of day at 1-855-423-6667.