What should I eat and drink when I am breastfeeding?
A nutritious, balanced diet helps you stay energetic and make plenty of milk for your baby.
Just like when you are pregnant, it’s best to eat a nutritious, balanced diet while breastfeeding. Be sure to eat and drink to satisfy your hunger and thirst. Talk to your WIC staff to find out how to make healthy choices.
WIC FOOD PACKAGES
As part of the WIC program, moms receive food packages. What’s in the food packages varies based on how often you breastfeed your baby and how much infant formula you receive from WIC. WIC staff can explain the different food packages to you and identify which food package best meets your needs.
HEALTHY EATING WHILE BREASTFEEDING
Making healthy food choices—along with regular physical activity—will keep you healthy while you breastfeed. Choose a variety of foods and beverages to build your own healthy eating style. Include foods from all food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and protein foods.
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
- Make at least half your grains whole grains.
- Move to low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt, or cheese.
- Vary your proteins.
You need more fluids while you are breastfeeding. Be sure to drink enough water to quench your thirst.
Tell your doctor about any supplements you are taking. Ask if you or your baby need a multivitamin or mineral supplement, particularly vitamin D and iron.
It’s important to focus on eating healthy, rather than losing baby weight, while you’re breastfeeding. Slow weight loss over several months is safest.
BABY MAY REACT TO FOODS YOU EAT
Babies love the flavors of foods that come through your milk. Sometimes a baby may be sensitive to something you eat, such as eggs or dairy products like milk and cheese. Watch your baby for the symptoms listed below, which could mean that your baby has an allergy or sensitivity to something you eat:
- Diarrhea, vomiting, green stools with mucus or blood,
- Rash, eczema, dermatitis, hives, dry skin,
- Fussing during and/or after feedings,
- Crying for long periods,
- Sudden waking with discomfort, or
- Wheezing or coughing.
These signs do not mean your baby is allergic to your milk, only to something that you ate. You may need to stop eating whatever is bothering your baby or eat less of it. You may find that after a few months you can eat the food again with better results.
Talk with your baby’s doctor if your baby has any of the symptoms listed above. If your baby ever has problems breathing, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.
THINGS TO LIMIT OR AVOID
Like when you were pregnant, there are things you should limit or avoid while you are breastfeeding to keep your baby happy and healthy.
Limit caffeine. Drinking a small amount of coffee (up to 2 cups a day) or other drinks with caffeine is okay while breastfeeding. Too much caffeine can make your baby fussy or keep baby awake.
Avoid alcohol. It’s best to avoid alcohol while you are breastfeeding. If you choose to drink, you may have a single alcoholic drink once in a while if your baby’s breastfeeding routine is well established-and if your baby is at least 3 months old. Then, wait at least 4 hours after having a drink before breastfeeding.
Avoid smoking, drugs, and other medications. Talk to your doctor before taking any medicine (both over-the-counter and prescription) or dietary supplements.
Source: USDA WIC Breastfeeding Support