A Mother’s Guide On Lactation: Nutrition, Myths And Diet



Published on: 09-Sep-2022


10 min read


Updated on : 02-Nov-2023




Amrita Sandhu


A Mother’s Guide On Lactation: Nutrition, Myths And Diet

A Mother’s Guide On Lactation: Nutrition, Myths And Diet

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Did you know about the benefits of breastfeeding for the baby mother? Read on to learn all about the ideal diet during lactation.

The period of breastfeeding and the production of breast milk is called lactation. It is said that breastfeeding the baby may help the mother to curb many diseases in the future like diabetes, obesity and heart troubles. It also helps overcome stress. 

Breast milk is essential because it contains numerous nutrients, including vitamin A, water, and proteins. To produce high-quality breast milk, a mother needs to eat lots of good and nutritious food to nourish the baby. Therefore, it is essential to consume foods that induce breast milk production.

Table Of Contents

1. Diet During Lactation

2. Myths about breastfeeding during lactation

3. Sample Diet Plan For Lactating Women

4. Dietitian’s Recommendation

5. The Final Say

6. FAQs

Diet During Lactation

During breastfeeding, a woman requires around 450 to 500 extra calories daily. In addition, certain nutrients like vitamin D, A, calcium and potassium are vital in the lactating period mother. Here is what you should consume.

1. Fruits

Fruits are fibre rich and potent in vitamins and help relieve constipation. Consuming 2 fruits daily, including seasonal fruits, yields significant benefits. You can consume:

  • Banana
  • Mangoes
  • Oranges
  • Cantaloupe
  • Melons
  • Peaches 

2. Vegetables

Vegetables provide vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to induce breast milk and give nutrients to the baby. Consuming 2 to 3 servings of vegetables daily is excellent for health. You can consume vegetables like:

  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Bottle gourd

3. Whole grains 

Grains provide good carbs, fibre, and other nutrients for lactating mothers. Also, grains help to keep you fuller for longer. Some examples of whole grains are:

  • Brown rice
  • Oats
  • Bajra
  • Jowar
  • Quinoa
  • Wheat
  • Kodo millet
  • Ragi

4. Protein-rich foods

Protein helps to build up muscle wear and tear and repair damaged muscles. Adding protein to your diet may help in the better functioning of the body. Some examples of protein-rich foods are:

  • Pulses and legumes
  • Chicken and eggs
  • Fish like salmon, sardines
  • Beans
  • Nuts and seeds

Omega-3 fatty acids, abundant in seafood, can help a baby's brain develop normally. Excellent options include sardines, salmon and trout due to their high omega-3 and low mercury content. Mothers who are lactating should avoid eating mackerel and tuna, as they are high in mercury which is harmful to their health.

5. Dairy Products

Dairy products provide calcium and vitamin D, which are great for bone strengthening and formation. Breastfeeding can suck mothers' calcium, so consuming a diet rich in dairy products is essential.

People can also consume soya products like tofu or calcium-fortified soy milk. Some examples of protein dairy products are

  • Milk
  • Curd
  • Buttermilk
  • Cheese
  • Yoghurt
  • Paneer

Also, try to sit under the sun in the morning to get vitamin D and D3.

6. Water 

Breast Milk contains almost 70-80% water which helps keep the baby hydrated, so the mother needs to drink lots of water to boost milk production.

Research shows that breast milk comprises 87% water, 3.8% fat, 1% protein, and 7% carbohydrate and provides 60 to 75 kcal/100ml.

7. Vitamin B12

To develop your baby's nervous system, a lactating mother should consume foods rich in vitamin B12 like chicken, eggs, lean meat and fish. Vegetarian and vegan people might have low vitamin B12 levels. They can opt for Vitamin B12 supplements by consulting their health care professional.

8. Iodine 

Iodine helps to boost the nervous system and brain development. The only source for the baby is iodine in breast milk. However, mothers consume iodine-rich foods like iodised salt, seafood, and some dairy products.  

Myths About Breastfeeding And Lactation

1. Avoid Foods That Are Gassy For You And Your Baby

We have often heard women saying foods should not be eaten because they can cause gas to the baby, but that is not true. Breastmilk does not change its flavour depending on what you consume throughout the day. Meanwhile, the taste of breastmilk makes the child aware of the certain eating habits followed in the family. Initially, the baby may feel a little fussy about the flavour of the breastfeeding. Still, that specific flavour will not hinder digestion. So stay calm and eat what you generally consume in a diet without hesitation.

Other than that, some babies are allergic to certain things from birth, as it is an exception, and only 3% of the babies who are exclusively breastfeeding may have these issues.

2. Lactating Mothers Lose Weight Rapidly During Breastfeeding

Lactating mothers tend to feel hungrier and eat more during breastfeeding, so it is a myth that you lose weight while lactating. And from a health perspective, losing weight during the lactation period may hinder breast milk production, which can often make your baby hungry.

3. Drinking Tea/Coffee During Lactation Should Be Avoided

Research has found that only about 1% of the caffeine you drink ends up in breast milk. Therefore, caffeine cannot hinder the sleep of the baby. A mother can drink around 2 cups of tea/coffee daily. 

Sample Diet Plan For Lactating Women

Diet during pregnancy and post-pregnancy is crucial. Therefore, here is a sample diet plan for lactating women. 

Morning - 1 glass of lemon water with chia seeds 

Breakfast - 2 whole eggs omelette with 2 slices brown bread/1 glass milk with sheera (use stevia)/1 serving vegetable poha with 1 glass milk

Mid-morning - 1 methi laddoo with 1 fruit 

Lunch - 1 big bajra paratha with 1.5 serving green leafy vegetables and 1 big bowl salad/2 servings of brown rice with 1.5 thick serving dal and 1 bowl salad

Afternoon - tea/coffee

Evening - 1 serving of roasted chana/1 big bowl of soup

Dinner - 1.5 serving sabzi with 2 multigrain roti and 1 bowl of salad

Bedtime - 100ml warm turmeric milk

Dietitian’s Recommendation 

The quality and quantity of breast milk during lactation depend on the food eaten by the mother. Hence, it is vital to take good care of the mother to give her baby good quality nutrition. Here are some tips for lactating mothers.

1. Make sure you consume various seasonal fruits and vegetables regularly. Instead of junk, focus on consuming more nutrition through nuts, seeds and milk as they will also provide micronutrients to the baby.

2. Mothers are recommended to drink milk because there are chances of developing a calcium deficiency during lactation, so they can consume calcium supplements advised by the doctor and continue intake of milk and ragi sheera every day to replenish the depleted calcium in the body.

The Final Say

The lactation period is a significant and primary phase in a mother and infant’s life, wherein breast milk is produced by the mother to provide nutrition to the baby. It largely influences the growth of the baby. Therefore, the mother has to consume a healthy diet which provides both mother and baby with the nutrition they need for good health. Foods like vegetables, fruits and dairy products are staples which should be included according to the season in the diet.

On average, lactating mothers should consume 500kcal of extra calories daily to feed the baby properly. In addition, the mother tends to feel hungrier during this stage, so ensuring the consumption of the right foods during this period for the overall growth of the mother and infant is essential.


1. What should I not eat during lactation?

Fried and processed foods, alcohol and some fish like tuna and mackerel, which contain mercury, are considered harmful to the health of the mother and the baby.

2. Why does a lactating mother need more energy?

During the lactation period, the mother needs excess nutrients and feels slightly weak due to feeding her baby. As a result, the body lacks the nutrients that must be replenished. This is why it is advised to consume 500kcal more per day for lactating mothers.

3. How long does the mother produce breast milk?

A mother produces breast milk for up to 2-3 years and is advised to feed the baby with milk and solid foods for 2 years.

4. Can green tea be allowed in lactation?

1-2 cups of the hot beverage are allowed for a lactating mother as it will not harm the mother and the baby.

5. How do I lose weight during lactation?

It is not considered safe to lose weight during lactation since it is the period of breastmilk production, and weight reduction can hinder it.


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