Breastfeeding Nutrition: How Many Extra Calories Do You Really Need?
Calorie requirements during pregnancy vary from trimester to trimester, but after birth is when breastfeeding mommas want to know if they need to continue to keep their calorie count up. Breastfeeding is a demanding yet very rewarding job, and you certainly need to nourish your body and enjoy additional nourishing calories to keep up not only to your milk supply, but also your energy levels.
I am going to break down how many extra calories you really need while breastfeeding and give you some breastfeeding nutrition tips to keep your energy levels stable and your milk supply high.
How Many Extra Calories do You Really Need while Breastfeeding?
The thing about breastfeeding is that calorie requirements are going to vary from woman to woman, there really isn’t a specific number you need to stick to. What it ultimately comes down to is your hunger cues, and these are important to listen to!
While you don’t want to overindulge in junk food and foods high in sugar and unhealthy fats, your body is feeding another human being, so if you’re extra hungry, there’s a good reason for it! If you are looking for a specific calorie number to follow, the general recommendation is to add an extra 300-500 calories to your diet per day while breastfeeding. (1)
However, remember that this is just a general guideline, and it may not work for every breastfeeding momma, as some may need additional calories in order to maintain a healthy milk supply. Activity level plays a big role in how many extra calories you may need as well.
No matter how many extra calories your body is going to require, you definitely do not want to skimp and go below 1,800 calories per day, especially if you were used to enjoying a much higher calorie range during pregnancy. Any sudden drop in calories or a sudden change in diet can cause a decrease in milk supply. You may be eager to lose the pregnancy weight after giving birth, but remember how demanding breastfeeding can be on your body. Consuming enough calories and the right type of calories will only help your body recover and provide your baby with the milk he or she needs to thrive!
So, we know that you need to be eating additional calories, but how do you go about including these extra 300-500 calories into your diet? You can do so by simply adding 1-2 additional nutrient-dense snacks into your day. You can really make these snacks count by enjoying some milk-boosting foods, which we will talk about next.
The bottom line is that your body is going to need additional calories, similar to the second and third trimester of pregnancy where your calorie requirements jumped up to about 300 extra calories per day. If you stick to what you were doing during the last months of pregnancy, you should be fueling your body with enough nutrition to maintain optimal health and a healthy milk supply.
Breastfeeding Nutrition Tips: Nutrient-Rich Foods that also Boost Milk Supply!
Many women want to know which foods help increase milk supply. Below you will find a list of some of the best foods to include in your diet while breastfeeding.
A warm bowl of oatmeal in the morning is one of the best ways to help support a healthy milk supply, and it’s also one of the easiest and most filling options. Try having a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast or enjoy a bowl as an afternoon snack.
Almonds make a great nutritious snack for nursing moms. They are rich in healthy fat, calcium, and may even be able to help boost the richness of your milk! Try adding some almonds to your morning bowl of oatmeal or snacking on a handful with a side of fruit.
3. Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are super important, so don’t be afraid to add them to your diet. Your body requires fat for so many different body processes, and when you are breastfeeding, it’s even more important to nourish your body with what it needs the most. Healthy fats can also help keep you full which is important when those breastfeeding hunger pangs kick in. Try snacking on things like avocados, nuts, and seeds.
4. Brewer’s Yeast
One of the most talked about ways of boosting your milk supply involves adding brewer’s yeast to your diet. Brewer’s yeast has been known to help boost milk supply, and it’s also rich in b-vitamins which can help keep your energy levels high. Some mommas like to add brewer’s yeast to homemade energy bites made with dates, rolled oats, and brewer’s yeast.
If you are just starting your breastfeeding journey or are preparing to have a baby, congratulations! While it’s a very busy time, and it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself, don’t forget just how important proper nutrition is after having a baby. You want to make sure you are keeping up with your nutritional demands to help your body recover but to also help nourish baby as best as you can.