Breastfeeding women need to take in about 2,500 calories every day. Women who continue to breastfeed their babies beyond three months need to increase their caloric intake to 2,800 daily. Eat more protein while nursing by eating more vegetables and lean meats. Fish should be limited while pregnant and nursing due to concerns about mercury and other pollutants in fish and fish products. The general rule for nursing mothers is that they should consume at least 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight. Therefore, a breastfeeding woman who weighs 140 pounds should add 140 grams of protein to her diet daily. Women who are breastfeeding their babies need to make sure that they are getting the essential fatty acids that baby needs for healthy brain growth. Nuts, seeds and greens are excellent sources of natural fatty acids.
Instead of eating 2 or 3 large meals daily, breastfeeding mothers should spread their food out over the course of the entire day. Nursing mothers should eat five meals per day that include healthy food choices like vegetables and fruits. A nursing mother should eat breakfast, a morning snack, lunch, an afternoon snack and then a nutritious dinner. Most people do not get enough vitamin B9, or folic acid, in their diets. This is especially true of breastfeeding women. Vitamin B9 is an essential part of a healthy diet. Folic acid is available in foods like cabbage, corn, spinach and asparagus. Wheat and orange juice are also loaded with folic acid and many other vital nutrients like vitamin C.
Take vitamins and mineral supplements if a doctor thinks you need a supplement. A nursing mother can usually get all the vitamins and minerals she needs from food, but occasionally a supplement may be required. Follow your doctor's instructions when taking any supplements. Nutrients and other substances that the mother takes into her body can be passed through the breast milk to the baby.
Breastfeeding mothers need to drink at least 3 quarts of water every day. Water consumed by a nursing mother is critical to production of breast milk. It is easy to become dehydrated when nursing, so increase total water consumption while nursing. Don't drink more than 3 quarts of water per day, because breast milk may become diluted.