Nutrition Tips and Recipes for Breastfeeding Moms

Throughout your pregnancy, you likely paid more attention than usual to what you were eating. Now that your little one has joined you in the world, the attention to your nutrition doesn’t fade, especially if you choose to breastfeed.

Many new moms are confused over how much food they really need, and the type of nutrients that best support breastfeeding. This post will clear up the overwhelm, so you know what to focus on when it comes to nutrition as a breastfeeding mama.

How Much is Enough

In general, you want to eat enough to feel satisfied, but for many of us, knowing when you’re hungry and when you’re full isn’t always easy! For those who like numbers, you’ll want to eat around 400-500 extra calories daily.

Read This: 4 Genius Ways to Master Your Hunger Cues

Most women need in the range of 1,800-2,400 calories depending on how active you are, so with the added calories, you’re looking at a range of 2,200-2,900. The main takeaway, is to eat generous amounts of nutrient-dense food, and drink lots of water.

Essential Nutrients for Breastfeeding

First, I want to assure you that no matter your diet, your breastmilk is still a superfood. But, eating an abundance of whole, nutritious food will ensure you, mama, are getting what you need to recover and feel your best in this super chaotic time.

There are numerous nutrients that remain rather unaffected by a mom’s diet. For example, calories, fat, protein, folate, and most trace minerals, will be adequate even in undernourished women. However, a breastfeeding mom’s diet does affect B(1, 2, 3, 6, and 12) vitamins, vitamins A, and D, plus choline, and fatty acids (like DHA) stores.

B12 Vitamins

Vitamin B12 is vital for supporting brain development in infants. While in the womb, B12 is transferred through the placenta, and then through breastmilk once the baby is born.

Research has shown that compared to the amount an infant needs, nutrient-deficient mothers breastmilk provides only 12% of B12 (Source). Animal products are the best source of B12 vitamins, so moms who avoid them, like those on a vegan diet, are most at risk.

B12 rich foods
  • Animal liver and kidneys
  • Clams
  • Sardines
  • Beef
  • Fortified cereal (great for vegetarians)
  • Tuna
  • Trout
  • Eggs


Choline needs are higher during breastfeeding than at any other point in a woman’s life, at 550mg daily. This nutrient plays a big role in lifelong memory function and learning ability (Source).

Choline rich foods
  • Beef and chicken liver
  • Eggs
  • Cod
  • Salmon
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Chickpeas

Read This: 9 Healthy Recipe Blogs Perfect for Moms

Vitamin A

soluble, vitamin A that is critical for a baby’s growth and immune system development.

Vitamin A rich foods
  • Beef liver
  • Cod liver oil
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Tuna
  • Butternut Squash

Vitamin D

The CDC states that infants do not receive enough vitamin D through breastmilk, which is why pediatricians recommend a vitamin D supplement through their first year of life. However, recent research is showing that women who receive sufficient amounts of vitamin D (6,400 IU), transfer adequate amounts through her breastmilk for the nursing infant.

Sunlight is a great source of vitamin D, just be sure to take precautions so you don’t overexpose and get burned. 8-15 minutes of sun exposure is adequate for receiving the benefits you want (Source).

Vitamin D rich foods
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Eggs (yolks)
  • Mushrooms
  • Fortified cereal

Fatty Acids

The quality of fats that a nursing mom eats, directly affects the composition of fat in their breastmilk. DHA, omega-3 fatty acid, is probably the most important as it boosts both neural and visual development in infants.

Interestingly enough, omega-3 supplements , like flaxseed oil, does not increase the DHA in breastmilk, so it’s important to consume healthy animal fats.

Read This: Healthy Fats for a Healthy Weight

On the flip side, less healthy fats, trans fats may have harmful affects by disrupting the metabolization of healthier fats.

Fatty acids and DHA rich foods
  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Cod liver oil
  • Flax seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Walnuts


I just threw a lot at you. All of this information is great to know, but if you’re overwhelmed with what to actually eat, I haven’t helped you at all! Finding recipes with these foods is the hard part, so here are some to get you started.

Indian Spiced Stuffed Bell Peppers


Warm Salad with Salmon, Spinach, Orzo, and Crispy Capers


Vegetable Barley Soup


Tuna Salad Stuffed Avocados

Ground Beef with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach

White Chicken Quinoa Chili

Broccoli, Cheddar, and Spinach Frittata

Remember, you got this, mama

The last thing I want you to stress over is counting calories and grams of nutrients. This information is here when you are ready for it, and it should empower you, not stress you out. Eat real, whole foods, and plenty of them, and you will be just fine!

I help new moms figure out how to fuel their bodies, and their babies, without the stress. Schedule your FREE Discovery Call to learn more about working with me. Talk soon!

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