An additional 330 to 400 kilocalories (kcal) per day are recommended for well-nourished nursing mothers, compared to the amount they consumed before pregnancy (approximately 2,000 to 2,800 kcal per day for breastfeeding women, versus 1,600 to 2,400 kcal per day for moderately active women who are not pregnant). Make sure these extra calories are beneficial to you and your baby by selecting nutrient-rich foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients that provide energy, such as proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates, which are usually found in whole grains. Nutrient-rich foods will help you feel full for longer. The Healthy Eating Index (HEI), which measures diet quality on a scale from 0 to 100 based on dietary guidelines, is 62 for mothers who are breastfeeding, compared to 54 for peers who are not pregnant or breastfeeding.
Eating well while breastfeeding is just as important as getting adequate nutrition during pregnancy. If you're a vegetarian or vegan, talk to your doctor to find out if you need to take vitamin B12 supplements while pregnant and breastfeeding. The site offers different programs for women who breastfeed exclusively, who combine breastfeeding and formula feeding, or who breastfeed only a few times a day. However, some women increase their vitamin D intake while breastfeeding to increase the vitamin D content of milk to avoid having to supplement vitamin D.
Health professionals can provide breastfeeding mothers with easy-to-use information on healthy eating patterns on MyHealthFinder. Consuming carbohydrates helps provide energy to support the baby's growth and development and, after giving birth, breastfeeding. Health professionals can use this information to support healthy eating for mothers who are breastfeeding, which benefits both mother and baby. Producing breast milk consumes extra calories, so you should eat a little more than a person who isn't breastfeeding: an additional 250 to 500 calories a day will give you the energy and nutrients needed to produce milk.
Government programs, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), can help families facing food insecurity. Eating an iron-rich diet and taking an iron supplement every day while pregnant or breastfeeding help prevent iron-deficiency anemia. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should use iodized salt when cooking and consuming foods that are high in iodine, such as seafood and dairy products. August is National Breastfeeding Month and this year's theme, Every Step of the Way, emphasizes providing coordinated support to meet the needs of nursing families throughout this stage of life.
These resources can help ease the burden on mothers who are breastfeeding, allowing them to achieve their breastfeeding goals and, at the same time, achieve a healthy eating pattern. So how does breastfeeding nutrition differ from your diet during pregnancy? Not much if during pregnancy you improved your diet and added more nutritious foods and healthy snacks.