Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0
General Recommendations for Breast-Feeding Mothers
In general, nursing mothers produce breast milk of excellent
quality. However, the amount of milk each woman produces
may vary. Your physical well-being, your diet, and how much
rest you get can affect your milk supply. But, the most
important influences on milk production are how often you
feed your baby (or pump your breasts) and how effectively
milk is removed from your breasts.
Many women have questions about how they will need to change
their lifestyles while nursing. They fear that they may be
restricted in many ways. In fact, the vast majority of
women can comply with these recommendations for successful
- Follow the same guidelines for healthy eating
recommended to you during your pregnancy.
Eat a variety of foods at regular mealtimes and keep
nutritious snacks on hand if you are hungry between
meals. Eat more fresh fruits, vegetables, whole-grain
breads and cereals, dairy products, and protein-rich
meats, fish, poultry, and legumes.
- Drink plenty of liquids each day.
Your body needs extra water to produce breast milk.
Pour yourself a glass of water each time you sit down to
nurse. If you feel thirsty, make sure you drink more.
- In general, you can eat any foods.
Although breast-fed babies are not allergic to their
mother's milk, they can have reactions to substances
that appear in the milk from the mother's diet.
If your baby is bothered by something you ate, your
baby may have a reaction such as excessive crying,
stuffy or runny nose, vomiting, diarrhea, cough, or
rash on the cheeks or around the bottom.
If a particular food or beverage seems to upset your
baby, avoid that substance for a week and then try it
again to see if it truly affects your baby. The most
common foods in a mother's diet that cause allergic
symptoms in nursing infants are cow's milk and other
dairy products, peanuts, corn, wheat, eggs, fish, soy,
citrus fruits, and tomatoes. Often the food producing a
reaction in your baby is something you are eating or
drinking every day and a food that was a regular part of
your diet while you were pregnant.
If you think your baby is having a reaction to certain
foods you eat, talk to a doctor or dietitian before you
eliminate a major food group (such as dairy products or
wheat products) from your diet. They can suggest
substitute foods that will give you the essential
nutrients provided by the foods that bother your baby.
- Continue taking your daily prenatal vitamins.
Remember, however, that vitamin and mineral supplements do
not take the place of food. It is better to get your
nutrients from a well-balanced diet than to rely on a
vitamin and mineral supplement.
- Don't drink more than 2 cups of coffee, tea, cola, or
other caffeine-containing beverages a day.
Caffeine passes into your breast milk and can make your
- It's OK to have an occasional beer or glass of wine (one
or two glasses a week).
However, any heavy drinking or daily drinking of even
small quantities of alcoholic beverages could hurt your
baby. If you have a hospitalized premature or ill
newborn, DO NOT drink ANY alcohol.
- Do not smoke.
Smoking can decrease your milk supply. Also, the
breakdown products from nicotine can pass to your baby
in your milk. If you cannot stop smoking altogether,
try to cut down. If you must smoke, do it shortly after
nursing your baby. Above all, do not smoke in the same
room as your baby or even in the house. Breathing your
exhaled smoke can hurt your baby.
- Check with your baby's doctor if you need to take any
medicines, including nonprescription drugs.
You need to make sure that the drug is safe for nursing
- Never use illegal or street drugs while you are nursing.
Drug abuse by nursing mothers can be highly dangerous to
- Check with your doctor before you start a program to
Your body uses the fat stored during pregnancy to make
breast milk. This is the reason most breast-feeding
mothers can expect to lose several pounds each month.
However, a strict weight-reduction diet can decrease
your milk supply. Attempts to lose weight should be
carefully supervised by your doctor while you are