How much should you eat when breast feeding?
Breast feeding makes you hungry. New mums in the normal weight range generally need about 500 extra calories per day.
Many breast feeding mums sneak a slice of toast in the middle of the night, or a second breakfast mid-morning. Little wonder – producing breast milk requires a tremendous amount of energy.
It’s impossible to pin an exact number on how many more calories you should consume when breast feeding, because every woman is different. Your activity level, fat stores, breast feeding frequency, and the number of babies you are feeding will all affect what’s right for you.
However, as a general rule of thumb, if you were at a healthy pre-pregnancy weight you’ll need around 400-500 extra calories (similar to your requirements in the third trimester). If you were underweight pre-pregnancy, you’ll need a little more food; or, if you were overweight, then you probably don’t need any additional calories.
Maintain healthy eating habits
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, now isn’t the time for dieting. Your baby needs plenty of vitamins and minerals for healthy development – which means you need to eat nutrient-dense foods at regular intervals.
Your food choices will help you improve the quality of your milk, the quantity of your supply, and the resultant health of your baby for years to come. As a general rule of thumb, eat when you’re hungry (and at regular intervals), prioritise healthy choices, and stop when you’re full.
And don’t worry, you’ll gradually lose the weight you gained in pregnancy if you eat well during breast feeding and continue your exercise routine.
Here are some delicious and nutritious ideas for snacks when breast feeding, we recommend two snacks per day on top of your regular three meals but only if you’re hungry:
- 1⁄4 cup trail mix with 1/2 cup of unsweetened yoghurt (245 cal)
- 1/2 steamed sweet potato with 1⁄4 cup black beans, 1 slice of avocado, fresh salsa and a side of salad greens (252 cal)
- 1/2 cup roasted vegetables, topped with 1 tablespoon pine nuts, 45g salmon and 2 tbsp brown rice (223 cal)
- 1 tbsp peanut butter (or other nut butter) and 1/4 medium banana sandwich on 1 slice of 100% whole grain bread (188 cal)
- A banana (1/2 medium) and berry (1/2 cup) smoothie with a tablespoon of almonds and a dollop of yoghurt, made with milk (240 cal)
If you’re concerned that you’re not eating enough of the right foods, speak to your nutritionist or dietitian or give us a call. If you’re ever unsure about your breast feeding, speak to your midwife, nurse or lactation consultant.