Breastfeeding nutrition tips for optimal lactation and maternal health - Little Étoile Malaysia

Breastfeeding nutrition tips for optimal lactation and maternal health

Maternal nutrition during breastfeeding

Eating a healthy diet while you are breastfeeding is important because what you eat determines the energy, protein, nutrient and vitamin content of your breast milk. In addition to the increased micronutrient demands, breastfeeding also uses up a lot of energy, with 500 kcal/day more needed than pre-pregnancy (the equivalent of a banana smoothie, toasted sandwich or bowl of cereal) (1). However, tending to a new baby day and night can make it hard for the mother to eat a balanced diet, which may hinder her ability to produce enough milk.


  • Keep your fluid intake up
  • Have nutrient-dense snacks handy such as muesli bars, bananas, nuts, veggies and hummus
  • Opt for quick and nutrient-dense meals such as smoothies, porridge, omelets, wraps, stir-fries, pasta and sandwiches
  • Plan your meals according to the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (2), eat a wide variety of foods from these groups: fruit, vegetables, beans and legumes, fish (particularly oily fish such as salmon and sardine), lean meats, poultry, eggs, reduced-fat dairy, whole grains, nuts, and seeds
  • Focus on healthy fats: avocado, olive oil, nuts, seeds
  • Ask family members to help prepare some meals for you
  • Avoid foods that pose a risk of illness from listeria: cold meats, cold cooked chicken, pre-prepared salads (fruit and vegetables), ready-to-eat seafood, soft cheese. Click here to learn more
  • Avoid foods high in mercury: shark (flake), broadbill, marlin, king mackerel
  • Continue taking pregnancy/breastfeeding multivitamin during breastfeeding

Try to avoid

  • Processed oils, vegetable oils, processed saturated fats
  • Fried foods and foods with high levels of added salt
  • Empty calorie foods (refined carbohydrates, processed sugars)
  • Alcohol, smoking, medications, excess caffeine
  • Becoming dehydrated

Gas and colic in newborns

Even healthy foods in the mother’s diet may contribute to gas and colic symptoms in a newborn. However, the most common problematic foods include:

  • Dairy, onion, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower
  • Brussel sprouts, beans and legumes
  • High fructose fruits such as apples
  • Brewer’s yeast (good for milk production but can cause gas if you have too much)

If you suspect food may be causing your baby discomfort, try excluding it from your diet for one week and take notice if symptoms improve in your baby.

Foods/herbs to increase milk production

  • Oats, flax seeds/meal
  • Brewer’s yeast, alfalfa, fennel
  • Coconut water or rehydration formula
  • Fenugreek, moringa, milk thistle

Check out this recipe for Choc Banana Lactation Cookies and some other meal ideas using these foods here.



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