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What should the mother's diet be like during breastfeeding?

By Blanca Paraíso (gynecologist).
Last Update: 01/05/2022

For each liter of milk produced, it is estimated that 700 kcal of energy is required, so that during the first 6 months in which the newborn will breastfeed about 750 ml per day, a maternal diet of 2300-2500cal will be necessary. Fat intake should be equal to that recommended for the general population, and it is important to take omega-3 fatty acids in adequate amounts. For this purpose, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the intake of 200-300mg of omega-3, for example by taking 1 or 2 servings of fish per week. However, one should be careful with fish or seafood with high mercury content, because although the amounts of mercury in fish do not put adults at risk, they could alter the brain development of the baby. Therefore, it is recommended to eat a maximum of 300g per week of fish or seafood with low mercury content, such as shrimp, canned tuna, salmon and cod.

The concentration of some vitamins in the milk will depend on the level in the mother, so it is important to take foods with B1, B2, B6, B12 (foods of animal origin such as eggs, meat, fish, seafood, dairy products), vitamin E and A (fruits and vegetables of intense orange, red and yellow colors such as pumpkin or carrots). In addition, it is recommended to supplement children with 400 units of vitamin D daily, as well as the administration of vitamin K at birth.

We cannot forget calcium either, which is essential during breastfeeding, so it is recommended that the mother ingest 5 servings a day of calcium-rich foods, such as yogurt, cheese, salmon, broccoli, sesame seeds and cabbage.
Other necessary minerals are zinc, selenium, iodine, folic acid... in fact it is recommended that all breastfeeding mothers take a supplement of 100 micrograms of iodine in the form of potassium iodide. In case of vegetarian mothers, vitamin B12 and folic acid supplements are also recommended.

Drinking more than one coffee a day and smoking should also be avoided. If alcohol is drunk, it is recommended to wait 2 hours before breastfeeding for each alcoholic beverage consumed.

 Blanca Paraíso
Blanca Paraíso
MD, PhD, MSc
Gynecologist
Bachelor's Degree in Medicine and Ph.D from the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM). Postgraduate Course in Statistics of Health Sciences. Doctor specialized in Obstetrics & Gynecology, and Assisted Procreation.
License: 454505579
Gynecologist. Bachelor's Degree in Medicine and Ph.D from the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM). Postgraduate Course in Statistics of Health Sciences. Doctor specialized in Obstetrics & Gynecology, and Assisted Procreation. License: 454505579.