Foods to eat, and foods to avoid while breastfeeding

A healthy and varied diet should be followed while breastfeeding. Diets that exclude certain foods or nutrients should be avoided, unless advised by your doctor, and instead prefer diets that include all of the following foods in meals:  


Fruits, and in particular grapefruit and oranges, are a rich source of vitamins and mineral salts. They can also help relieve constipation, which some women experience after giving birth.

Ideally allow yourself 2 fruit snacks a day, trying to favor variety.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA – United States  D epartment  of  Agriculture) recommends a diet rich in the following fruits, as they are all excellent sources of potassium, and some of them also contain vitamin 

  • cantaloupe melon,
  • the banana,
  • the mangoes,
  • apricots,
  • plums,
  • the oranges.
  • the red or pink grapefruit.

The greenery

Women who are exclusively breastfeeding should eat vegetables three times a day.

Those who breastfeed combined with formula should still eat fruit twice a day.

Vegetables are full of vitamins and antioxidants, and consuming them in sufficient quantities helps the body replenish the nutrients it needs to make milk.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture itself recommends the following vegetables for their potassium and vitamin A contents:  

  • spinaches,
  • cooked vegetables,
  • the cabbages,
  • carrots,
  • sweet potatoes,
  • the pumpkin,
  • tomatoes,
  • the red peppers.


Cereals bring important nutrients to our body, in particular whole grains, such as brown rice and wholemeal bread.

You should eat at least 200 grams of cereals a day if you are exclusively breastfeeding, or 150 if you are also bottle-feeding.

Some grains, like quinoa, are also high in protein, which is an essential nutrient to eat while breastfeeding.

Fortified cereals provide added nutrients, making them a good option as well. It’s best to stick to whole grains that contain no added sugar.

The proteins

While breastfeeding, the body needs an extra 25 grams of protein each day, which is about 65 grams of protein per day. 

Experts recommend including some protein with each meal. In particular, to prefer the following food sources:  

  • beans and peas,
  • night and semi,
  • lean beef, pork and lamb,
  • oysters, crabs and mussels,
  • salmon, herring, pollack, (or pollack, or pollock in English), sardines and trout.

Fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids (DHA): docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is believed to be an essential component of the brain and the protective sheaths of the nervous system and, therefore, is essential for children’s brain growth and development.

Fish is therefore useful in supporting healthy brain development in children. 

Salmon, sardines and trout in particular are excellent, because they have a high omega-3 content, but a low mercury content.

While breastfeeding, you should avoid other types of fish, such as albacore tuna, swordfish, shark and king mackerel, which are high in mercury.

Apart from albacore, other types of tuna are safe to eat.

Dairy products

Both pregnancy and breastfeeding can separate/leach calcium from bones. If expectant and new mothers don’t get enough calcium and vitamin D, it puts them at risk for osteoporosis. 

In fact, remember that vitamin D is necessary to absorb (in the intestine) the calcium that is present in food.

Dairy products, such as cheese and milk, are excellent sources of calcium. Breastfeeding women should drink a minimum of 3 cups of milk or dairy products per day. 

The following dairy products are good sources of vitamin D and calcium:

  • the milk,
  • the yogurt,
  • natural cheese.

Women who don’t eat dairy products can also get calcium from dark green leafy vegetables, beans and fortified orange juice.

The United States National Academy of Sciences (NAS) advises breastfeeding people to consume 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. 

The sun is a primary source of vitamin D. But the use of supplements cannot be excluded. However, discuss this with your doctor first.

Food supplements

Your doctor can give you advice on how to possibly take food supplements while breastfeeding.
In most cases, a well-balanced diet should provide all the nutrients a breastfeeding person needs.

However, nutritional demands increase during breastfeeding, so some people may need vitamin and mineral supplements.  

It is important to remember though that supplements are no substitute for a healthy diet and always remember to speak to your doctor before taking any herbal or dietary supplements.

People who have dietary restrictions, or who follow a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle should also be aware that certain vitamins and minerals may be lacking in their diet, and should therefore speak to a dietitian.

The water

While breastfeeding the goal should be to maintain a well-rounded diet, rather than eat a lot.

However, it is essential to drink plenty of water, especially in the first few weeks after birth, when you may be so overwhelmed and distracted that
you forget to drink. Of course, the need for liquids also increases during breastfeeding.

Not drinking enough fluids can lead to dehydration, and can also affect milk production.

Breastfeeding people can remind themselves to drink by keeping a bottle of water in every room of their home.

They should also have a glass of water handy from the place where they tend to breastfeed.

The smoothies

The first few weeks of breastfeeding can be challenging: postpartum fatigue, lack of sleep and the emotional demands of caring for a newborn must be lived with: smoothies are easy to prepare and nutritionally rich foods.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform,

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