Medela’s Guide to Eating Well While Breastfeeding


Medela’s Guide to Eating Well While Breastfeeding

April 18, 2016

There are no hard and fast rules about what you should or should not eat while breastmilk feeding, but here are some common sense guidelines to follow:

  1. Eat enough. Don’t try diets at this time – it will just compound the other challenges you are facing and you will probably lose weight without depriving yourself. While breastmilk feeding, you can easily lose two to four pounds per month.
  2. Eat a balanced diet. Try to eat a range of foods, spread out over 4 to 5 smaller meals a day and 1 or 2 healthy snacks.
  3. Different spices, tastes, and smells from the foods you eat will pass through your breastmilk to your baby. This is a normal process, helping expose baby to a greater selection of flavours and has been shown to make your baby a more adventurous eater when he is older1.
  4. Pay attention to your baby’s reactions. Is your baby gassy and unhappy for seemingly no reason? Maybe the answer can be found in something you ate. Keep a diary and you may be able to make everyone happier by making a small adjustment to your diet.
  5. Keep well hydrated. You need a lot of water to keep up with your baby’s milk needs – about six to eight glasses per day2.


Alcohol consumption

Alcohol can alter the milk let-down reflex and decrease the amount of milk consumed by the infant. With daily exposure, it may also affect the infant’s short-term sleep patterns and gross-motor development. Concentrations of alcohol in breastmilk approximate the levels in the mother’s blood. Frequent or heavy drinking can impair the mother’s judgment and functioning.

Although there is no known “safe” amount of alcohol in breastmilk, an occasional drink is unlikely to harm the breastfed infant. The benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the risks of occasional moderate alcohol intake3.

Give yourself a head start!
If you are planning on consuming alcohol, start breastpumping your breastmilk a few days before so you can build up a sufficient supply to feed your baby for a minimum of 24 hours. This will give you peace of mind and time for you to process the alcohol in your body. During this period, continue to pump your breastmilk and discard it. Resume breastmilk feeding and breastmilk storage when appropriate amount of time has passed and you are certain that the alcohol has been expelled from your system. Alcohol will be present in your breastmilk for the same duration that its present in your blood.

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