Take charge of your health. Sign up for HealthyWomen newsletters:
Pregnancy & Parenting > healthy eating
Find out more about:
8 Nutrients All Breastfeeding Moms Need

8 Nutrients All Breastfeeding Moms Need

By Jayne Jang Belz

Created: 12/14/2016
Last Updated: 12/15/2016

Share on:

If you're a breastfeeding mom, your body's responsibility for providing nutrients to your growing baby doesn't end at delivery.

Breastfeeding, like pregnancy, keeps your body working hard, so it's important to stay healthy, hydrated and well-nourished. Yes, you're busy taking care of the baby, but you need to take care of yourself, too.

A good general guideline while nursing: Trust your body's signals.

For example, you might experience times when you feel constantly hungry or thirsty because baby is taking in more milk while she's going through a growth spurt. That's normal and it's definitely OK to trust those hunger pangs—you're working hard supplying all your baby needs to grow.

If you'd like more exact numbers, a mom who is breastfeeding her baby exclusively should take in an extra 400 to 500 calories per day. And nursing moms should remember to keep a water bottle nearby while nursing or pumping. Try to drink a cup or two of water every time you nurse.

So what should you eat? There are eight micronutrients that breastfeeding moms should strive to get in their diets for optimal health, according to Arielle Dani Lebovitz, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD, CDE.

Here they are, with specific foods that contain them:

  1. Calcium: Found in dairy products, broccoli and cabbage (watch for dairy sensitivity in your little ones.)

  2. Vitamin A: Found in dark green leafy vegetables like spinach or kale and deep orange and yellow fruits and veggies

  3. Vitamin E: Found in avocados, beans, nuts and seeds

  4. Riboflavin: Found in dairy products, meat, poultry, almonds, eggs, mushrooms and spinach

  5. Vitamin B6: Found in fish, whole grains, seeds, nuts and dark leafy greens

  6. Vitamin B12: Found in milk, eggs, meat, poultry and fish

  7. Zinc: Found in beans, nuts, seafood, meat and poultry

  8. Vitamin C: Found in dark leafy greens, tomatoes, citrus fruits and berries