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Milk Production & Nutrition

You need about 500 additional calories a day to make the milk your baby needs. It's best to get those extra calories from a balanced, nutrient-rich diet.

There are many myths about what a breastfeeding mother can and cannot eat, yet most these are not true.

Many babies are "gassy" or fussy in the first several months of life. These conditions are not usually related to the type of food in their mother's diet or to your breast milk. Occasionally, large quantities of any particular food, e.g. excessive fresh fruits, juice, or gas-producing foods, may bother babies.

Milk or egg allergies may occur if there is a family history of allergy. If you suspect that milk or some other food is causing gassiness or fussiness in your baby, eliminate this food from your diet for 5-7 days. If that particular food is causing a problem, this should be obvious after that time.


It is generally recommended that you return to your pre-pregnancy calorie intake with an additional 200-500 calories while breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding can be a way to start shedding baby weight, although some moms find their bodies hang on to a few extra pounds until after weaning. Don't start trying to lose weight until at least two months after your baby's birth. Losing too much weight too quickly can leave you exhausted and reduce your milk supply, and may release toxins stored in your fat into your breast milk. Aim to lose about a pound a week, and figure on about six months to a year until you're back in your pre-baby clothes.


You can now eat the foods you missed out on during pregnancy. It's good to eat a variety of flavors, because they go through your breast milk to some degree and may help your baby be a more open-minded eater when he or she is older.

Some breastfeeding moms notice their babies are more gassy or fussy after meals with certain ingredients, especially broccoli, cabbage, dairy products, chocolate, citrus, garlic or hot chilies. If a certain food you eat always seems to bother your baby, try avoiding it for a while. On rare occasions, a nursing baby is allergic to something her mother ate. If you notice your baby has hives, wheezy breathing or green, mucous-like stools after nursing, talk to your baby's doctor.

Vitamins & minerals

Continue to take prenatal vitamins or over-the-counter vitamins. Your baby's provider may recommend that your baby receive a vitamin supplement in a liquid form to provide more vitamins A and D, since they are not present in adequate amounts in breast milk.


Drink when you’re thirsty, making sure you get at least 6-8 glasses of water per day.

Limit caffeine to less than 2 cups of coffee or other caffeinated beverage per day. Caffeine is a stimulant to the mother and baby.

Medication & alcohol

Medication and alcohol can be passed through breast milk. Most over-the-counter medications that you would take after delivery, such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) are safe to take while breastfeeding. There are, however, some medications that are not safe to take while breastfeeding. If you are currently taking medications or considering taking a medication, consult your doctor to discuss safety while breastfeeding.

Alcohol should be avoided or severely limited while breastfeeding. If you decide to drink an alcoholic beverage, nurse your baby before you drink and wait until you are no longer feeling the effects of the alcohol before nursing again.

When to start other foods

Wait until your baby is 4-6 months old before you try to feed solids; breast milk or formula will still be the major part of your baby's diet. There is nothing to be gained by starting solids before that. Cereal will not make your baby sleep through the night. There may even be some risks to starting solids early. Babies are not able to swallow and digest solid foods before age 4-6 months.

Learning to eat solid foods should be pleasant - not a struggle. Take your baby's needs into account. Let his or her age, appetite and growth help you and your provider decide when to start feeding solid foods. The first attempts will be slow and messy. Put a bib on your baby and try to be patient. Do not put food in your baby's bottle or use a feeding device. Your baby needs to learn all the tastes and textures of food. Learning to handle and eat from a spoon is a big change.

Looking for more? Be sure to reference our pregnancy e-books and app.

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System staff deliver great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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