Good nutrition is just as important while breastfeeding as it was during pregnancy. Enjoy a variety of nutritious foods. See Canada's Food Guide for more examples of serving sizes and advice on choosing healthy foods. Choose foods from the 4 food groups that are prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt. It is important that mothers have a healthy diet and lifestyle to ensure their own wellbeing.
Emphasize vegetables and fruits
- 7 or 8 servings every day
- eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day. Examples of one Food Guide serving: half a cup of fresh, frozen or canned vegetable; 1 medium fruit
Emphasize whole grain cereals, breads, and other grain products
- 6 or 7 servings each day
- examples of one Food Guide serving: 1 slice of bread, ½ cup (125 mL) of cooked rice, pasta; 3/4 cup (175 mL) of hot cereal; 30 g of breakfast cereal
Choose 2 servings of milk or fortified soy beverages each day
- examples of one Food Guide serving: 1 cup (250 mL) of milk or fortified soy beverage; 3/4 cup (175 g) of yogurt, 1 1/2 oz (50 g) of hard cheese
- if you are 18 years old or less, add 1or 2 extra servings of dairy products each day
Choose 2 servings of meat and alternatives each day
- examples of one Food Guide serving: 2 ½ ounces (75 g) of cooked fish, poultry, lean meat; ¾ cup (175 ml) of cooked legumes; 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of peanut butter.
- Breastfeeding women can still enjoy the benefits of eating a variety of fish if they choose carefully. Use this guide to help choose fish.
Breastfeeding women need more calories
- include an extra 2 to 3 servings each day of foods from any of the above food groups
- for example, have a fruit and a yogurt for a snack
- Milk Products, which include yoghurt, cheese and milk, are good sources of calcium. Other calcium rich foods include sardines, salmon with bones, almonds, sesame seeds, cooked soybeans and other dried peas, beans and lentils, tofu made with calcium sulfate, vegetables like kale, bok choy and broccoli as well as dried fruit, especially figs.
- all breastfeeding women should take a multivitamin containing folic acid
Drink enough fluids
- drink enough fluids, especially water, to satisfy your thirst.
- many mothers find they need more fluids than usual. It is a good idea to have something available to drink each time you breastfeed
- drink water regularly, and even more in hot weather or when you are more active
Oils and Fats
- include a small amount - 2 to 4 Tbsp (30 to 45 mL) of unsaturated fat each day. This includes oil used for cooking, salad dressings, margarine and mayonnaise. Limit butter, hard margarine, lard and shortening
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- Limit alcohol and caffeine.
- limit your consumption of caffeine to a maximum of 2 cups of coffee per day
- caffeine is passed in your breast milk and can be found in coffee, tea, colas, chocolate and may make your baby irritable
- Alcohol consumed by the mother passes into her bloodstream and her breast milk. The safest choice is not to drink alcohol while you are breastfeeding. If you choose to drink alcohol you can protect your baby from the adverse effects of alcohol by scheduling your occasional alcohol consumption around breastfeeding. For example, drink alcohol after breastfeeding not before. For more information visit Best Start.
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Dieting and breastfeeding
Breastfeeding moms should not try to lose weight through strict dieting as it can decrease milk supply. Breastfeeding should help you gradually lose some of the weight you gained while you were pregnant. Sensible eating and exercise is recommended for breastfeeding mothers.
Continue to follow Eating Well With Canada's Food Guide while you are breastfeeding. You will gradually lose weight as your body uses up some fat to supply the energy required to make milk.