Nutrition for breastfeeding mother

Breastfeeding mother should focused on having the right nutrition in order for babies to growth healthily. Besides good position and latching, good nutrition will also help in gaining good cognitive and development of babies. What should breastfeeding mother focus on her dietary intake?

  1. Intake of well-balanced, moderate and variety meal. Focusing on nutrient-dense food choices.

Breastfeeding mother should not restrict their diet too much while in confinement due to prevent babies from sick or jaundice. This will cause the diet to be unbalanced and will affect the baby’s growth in long term period as some essential mineral and vitamin. Try to familiarise with complete meal of carbohydrate (rice, noodles, bread or cereal) with protein sources (fish, meat, poultry and eggs) and fruits and vegetable. We can use quarter-quarter half (#sukusukuseparuh) to ensure the portion size each food group.

  • Energy intake to allow for maintaining health and well-being; calorie level no less than 1800 kcal/day. Intentional weight loss not advised before breastfeeding is well established (approximately 2 months)

Breastfeeding mother is not advisable to reduce their calories while breastfeeding at least not less than 1800 kcal per day. This is crucial to ensure baby’s growth is unaffected. If mother wants to lose weight, it is recommended to achieve that at least after the breastfeeding is well established (approximately 2 months).

  • Protein intake to meet nutritional needs, approximately an additional 25g/day from base level prepregnancy. This often requires 20% of energy intake from protein.

While breastfeeding, mother should focus on having good sources of protein not relying solely on high carbohydrate food. Good protein helps in building new cells and muscles thus helping in gaining baby’s weight. It is recommended to have an additional 25 g/day from intake before pregnant and will increase 20% energy intake.

  • Intake DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) from fatty fish (low in methyl mercury) twice a week.

The recommended amounts of specific omega-6 and omega-3 Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid during lactation vary little from pregnancy; they are crucial for foetal and infant brain development. One or two servings of fish per week meet this need. Mother should avoid eating predatory fish to prevent excessive levels of dietary mercury (pike, merlin, mackerel, albacore tuna, and swordfish). Intake of trans fat should be kept minimum by the nursing mother so that the potential for their appearance in her breast milk is reduced.

  • Drink to thirst; have beverages readily available during nursing and when expressing breast milk.

A nursing mother may feel that she need to drink because of increased fluid output when breastfeeding her infant. She should drink to thirst but should not feel forced to drink excessive fluid, which is not beneficial and may cause discomfort. The beverage of choice is water; however, water is the main component of many beverages and can be used as such in the body.

  • If desired, alcoholic beverages can be consumed on occasion, in moderation. Not recommended with preterm, very young, or sick infants.

No safe amount of alcohol has been established for the nursing mother, but recommendations include limiting intake to 0.5g alcohol/kg maternal body weight. Mothers should be discriminatory about any alcohol intake when nursing a premature, young, sick baby because this baby would be affected much more than the older, more mature baby. In addition, mothers should consider their ability to care for their children when under the influence of alcohol. If occasional alcohol intake occurs, moderation is advised at all times for breastfeeding mothers.


Krause and Mahan’s Food & Nutrition Care Process, Fifteenth Edition, 1st Southeast Asia Edition, 2022, Elsevier (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. ISBN: 978-0-323-63655-1

Written by : Puan Adibah Zakaria


Lactation Counselor