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Health Condition

Breast-Feeding Support

The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.

  • Beverages

    Drinking enough fluids to quench thirst is enough to support a healthy milk supply.
    Beverages
    ×

    Drinking to quench thirst is enough to support a healthy milk supply.85 Women are frequently instructed to drink extra fluids to increase milk supply. This is a common misunderstanding, however, and excessive fluid intake should be avoided.86

  • Calcium

    Calcium and calcium-rich foods, such as dairy products, leafy green vegetables, and tofu, are especially important during breast-feeding.
    Calcium
    ×

    A woman should continue to take prenatal vitamins in order to meet the nutrient requirements of breast-feeding. Especially important is continued intake of calcium and calcium-rich foods.

  • EFA

    Eating foods that contain essential fatty acids, such as canola oil, corn oil, safflower oil, nut and seed oils, and fish, will ensure higher quantities of EFAs in the breast milk.
    EFA
    ×

    Breast milk contains essential fatty acids. The fat composition of breast milk varies with a woman’s diet. If a woman consumes foods that provide essential fatty acids (e.g., vegetable oils such as canola oil, corn oil, and safflower oil; nut and seed oils; and fish), the breast milk she produces will contain higher quantities of essential fatty acids.87

  • High-Calorie

    Breast-feeding women need even more calories than pregnant women: most need about 2,800 calories per day to meet the energy needs of breast-feeding.
    High-Calorie
    ×

    The caloric needs of a breast-feeding woman are even higher than during pregnancy. An extra 400 to 500 calories per day above pregnancy requirements are needed. Most women should consume approximately 2,800 calories per day to meet the energy needs of breast-feeding.88 Therefore, under most circumstances, doctors discourage dieting (i.e., calorie restriction). Weight loss following pregnancy usually occurs naturally, particularly if a woman can engage in moderate exercise. Breast-feeding uses up fat stores, and is a natural way to lose weight.

  • Eating Healthy

    Breast-feeding women should eat a well-balanced diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fish while limiting refined sugars, white flour, and processed foods.
    Eating Healthy
    ×

    Pregnant and breast-feeding women should choose a well-balanced and varied diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fish. Many doctors recommend limiting intake of refined sugars, white flour, fried foods, processed foods, and chemical additives.

References

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4. Freed G. Breast-feeding. Time to teach what we preach. JAMA 1993;243-6.

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10. Frank AL, Taber LH, Glezen WP, et al. Breast-feeding and respiratory virus infection. Pediatrics 1982;70:239-45.

11. Wright AI, Holberg CJ, Martinez FD, et al. Breast feeding and lower respiratory tract illness in the first year of life. Br Med J 1989;299:945-9.

12. Chen Y. Synergistic effect of passive smoking and artificial feeding on hospitalization for respiratory illness in early childhood. Chest 1989;95:1004-7.

13. Wright AL, Holberg CJ, Taussig LM, et al. Relationship of infant feeding to recurrent wheezing at age 6 years. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 1995;149:758-63.

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15. Duncan B, Ey J, Holberg CJ, et al. Exclusive breast-feeding for at least 4 months protects against otitis media. Pediatrics 1993;91:867-72.

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18. Aniansson G, Alm B, Andersson B, et al. A prospective cohort study on breast-feeding and otitis media in Swedish infants. Pediatr Infect Dis J 1994;13:183-8.

19. Cochi SL, Fleming DW, Hightower AW, et al. Primary invasive Haemophilus influenzae type b disease: a population-based assessment of risk factors. J Pediatr 1986;108:887-96.

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26. Mitchell EA, Taylor BJ, Ford RPK, et al. Four modifiable and other major risk factors for cot death: the New Zealand study. J Paediatr Child Health 1992;28:S3-S8.

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28. Mayer EJ, Hamman RF, Gay EC, et al. Reduced risk of IDDM among breast-fed children. Diabetes 1988;37:1625-32.

29. Virtanen SM, Rasanen L, Aro A, et al. Infant feeding in Finnish children <7 yr of age with newly diagnosed IDDM. Diabetes Care 1991;14:415-7.

30. Koletzko S, Sherman P, Corey M, et al. Role of infant feeding practices in development of Crohn's disease in childhood. Br Med J 1989;298:1617-8.

31. Rigas A, Rigas B, Glassman M, et al. Breast-feeding and maternal smoking in the etiology of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis in childhood. Ann Epidemiol 1993;3:387-92.

32. Davis MK, Savitz DA, Graubard BI. Infant feeding and childhood cancer. Lancet 1988;2:365-8.

33. Shu X-O, Clemens J, Zheng W, et al. Infant breastfeeding and the risk of childhood lymphoma and leukaemia. Int J Epidemiol 1995;24:27-32.

34. Lucas A, Brooke OG, Morley R, et al. Early diet of preterm infants and development of allergic or atopic disease: randomised prospective study. Br Med J 1990;300:837-40.

35. Halken S, Host A, Hansen LG, et al. Effect of an allergy prevention programme on incidence of atopic symptoms in infancy. Ann Allergy 1992;47:545-53.

36. Saarinen UM, Kajosaari M. Breastfeeding as prophylaxis against atopic disease: prospective follow-up study until 17 years old. Lancet 1995;346:1065-9.

37. Udall JN, Dixon M, Newman AP, et al. Liver disease in a 1-antitrypsin deficiency: retrospective analysis of the influence of early breast- vs bottle-feeding. JAMA 1985;253:2679-82.

38. Sveger T. Breast-feeding, a 1-antitrypsin deficiency, and liver disease? JAMA. 1985;254:3036 [letter].

39. Greco L, Auricchio S, Mayer M, et al. Case control study on nutritional risk factors in celiac disease. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 1988;7:395-9.

40. Morrow-Tlucak M, Haude RH, Ernhart CB. Breastfeeding and cognitive development in the first 2 years of life. Soc Sci Med 1988;26:635-9.

41. Wang YS, Wu SY. The effect of exclusive breastfeeding on development and incidence of infection in infants. J Hum Lactation 1996;12:27-30.

42. Worthington-Roberts BS, Williams SR. Nutrition in Pregnancy and Lactation, 4th ed. St. Louis, MO: Times Mirror/Mosby;1989.

43. Montgomery D, Splett P. Economic benefit of breast-feeding infants enrolled in WIC. J Am Diet Assoc 1997;97:379-85.

44. Tuttle CR, Dewey KG. Potential cost savings for Medi-Cal, AFDC, food stamps, and WIC programs associated with increasing breast-feeding among low-income Hmong women in California. J Am Diet Assoc 1996;96:885-90.

45. DeChateau P, Wiberg B. Long term effect on mother-infant behavior of extra contact during the first hour postpartum, II: a follow-up at three months. Acta Paediatr Scand 1977;66:145-51.

46. Chua S, Arulkumaran S, Lim I, et al. Influence of breastfeeding and nipple stimulation on postpartum uterine activity. Br J Obstet Gynaecol 1994;101:804-5.

47. Kennedy KI, Visness CM. Contraceptive efficacy of lactational amenorrhoea. Lancet 1992;339:227-30.

48. Gray RH, Campbell OM, Apelo R, et al. Risk of ovulation during lactation. Lancet 1990;335:25-9.

49. Dewey KG, Heinig MJ, Nommsen LA. Maternal weight-loss patterns during prolonged lactation. Am J Clin Nutr 1993;58:162-6.

50. Melton LJ, Bryant SC, Wahner HW, et al. Influence of breastfeeding and other reproductive factors on bone mass later in life. Osteoporos Int 1993;3:76-83.

51. Cumming RG, Klineberg RJ. Breastfeeding and other reproductive factors and the risk of hip fractures in elderly woman. Int J Epidemiol 1993;22:684-91.

52. Rosenblatt KA, Thomas DB, WHO Collaborative Study of Neoplasia and Steroid Contraceptives. Int J Epidemiol 1993;22:192-7.

53. Newcomb PA, Storer BE, Longnecker MP, et al. Lactation and a reduced risk of premenopausal breast cancer. N Engl J Med 1994;330:81-7.

54. Jorgensen MH, Hernell O, Hughes E, Michaelsen KF. Is there a relation between docosahexaenoic acid concentration in mothers' milk and visual development in term infants? J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2001;32:293-6.

55. Gibson RA, Makrides M. Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in breast milk: are they essential? Adv Exp Med Biol 2001;501:375-83.

56. Harris WS, Connor WE, Lindsey S. Will dietary w-3 fatty acids change the composition of human milk? Am J Clin Nutr 1984;40:780-5.

57. Jorgensen MH, Hernell O, Hughes E, Michaelsen KF. Is there a relation between docosahexaenoic acid concentration in mothers' milk and visual development in term infants? J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2001;32:293-6.

58. Gibson RA, Makrides M. Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in breast milk: are they essential? Adv Exp Med Biol 2001;501:375-83.

59. Harris WS, Connor WE, Lindsey S. Will dietary w-3 fatty acids change the composition of human milk? Am J Clin Nutr 1984;40:780-5.

60. Bingel AS, Farnsworth NR. Higher plants as potential sources of galactagogues. Econ Med Plant Res 1994;6:1-54 [review].

61. Gladstar R. Herbal Healing for Women. New York, Simon and Schuster, 1993, 177.

62. Mohr H. [Clinical investigations of means to increase lactation.] Dtsch Med Wschr 1954;79:1513-6 [in German].

63. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum and Beaconsfield, UK: Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd., 1988, 318.

64. Mennella JA, Beauchamp GK. Maternal diet alters the sensory qualities of human milk and the nursling's behavior. Pediatrics 1991;88:737-44.

65. Mennella JA, Beauchamp GK. The effects of repeated exposure to garlic-flavored milk on the nursling's behavior. Pediatr Res 1993;34:805-8.

66. Bingel AS, Farnsworth NR. Higher plants as potential sources of galactagogues. Econ Med Plant Res 1994;6:1-54 [review].

67. Bingel AS, Farnsworth NR. Higher plants as potential sources of galactagogues. Econ Med Plant Res 1994;6:1-54 [review].

68. Gladstar R. Herbal Healing for Women. New York, Simon and Schuster, 1993, 177.

69. Mohr H. [Clinical investigations of means to increase lactation.] Dtsch Med Wschr 1954;79:1513-6 [in German].

70. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum and Beaconsfield, UK: Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd., 1988, 318.

71. Mennella JA, Beauchamp GK. Maternal diet alters the sensory qualities of human milk and the nursling's behavior. Pediatrics 1991;88:737-44.

72. Mennella JA, Beauchamp GK. The effects of repeated exposure to garlic-flavored milk on the nursling's behavior. Pediatr Res 1993;34:805-8.

73. Bingel AS, Farnsworth NR. Higher plants as potential sources of galactagogues. Econ Med Plant Res 1994;6:1-54 [review].

74. Gladstar R. Herbal Healing for Women. New York, Simon and Schuster, 1993, 177.

75. Mohr H. [Clinical investigations of means to increase lactation.] Dtsch Med Wschr 1954;79:1513-6 [in German].

76. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum and Beaconsfield, UK: Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd., 1988, 318.

77. Mennella JA, Beauchamp GK. Maternal diet alters the sensory qualities of human milk and the nursling's behavior. Pediatrics 1991;88:737-44.

78. Mennella JA, Beauchamp GK. The effects of repeated exposure to garlic-flavored milk on the nursling's behavior. Pediatr Res 1993;34:805-8.

79. Bingel AS, Farnsworth NR. Higher plants as potential sources of galactagogues. Econ Med Plant Res 1994;6:1-54 [review].

80. Gladstar R. Herbal Healing for Women. New York, Simon and Schuster, 1993, 177.

81. Mohr H. [Clinical investigations of means to increase lactation.] Dtsch Med Wschr 1954;79:1513-6 [in German].

82. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum and Beaconsfield, UK: Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd., 1988, 318.

83. Mennella JA, Beauchamp GK. Maternal diet alters the sensory qualities of human milk and the nursling's behavior. Pediatrics 1991;88:737-44.

84. Mennella JA, Beauchamp GK. The effects of repeated exposure to garlic-flavored milk on the nursling's behavior. Pediatr Res 1993;34:805-8.

85. Duerbeck N. Breast-feeding: What you should know so you can talk to your patients. Comp Ther 1998;24:310-8.

86. Dusdiecker LB, Stumbo PJ, Booth BM, Wilmoth RN. Prolonged maternal fluid supplementation in breast-feeding. Pediatrics 1990:86:737.

87. Worthington-Roberts BS, Williams SR. Nutrition in Pregnancy and Lactation, 4th ed. St. Louis, MO: Times Mirror/Mosby,1989, 244-322 [review].

88. Duerbeck N. Breast-feeding: What you should know so you can talk to your patients. Comp Ther 1998;24:310-8.

89. Worthington-Roberts BS, Williams SR. Nutrition in Pregnancy and Lactation, 4th ed. St. Louis, MO: Times Mirror/Mosby, 1989, 47-140 [review].

90. De Rosa G, Corsello SM, Ruffilli MP, et al. Prolactin secretion after beer. Lancet 1981;2:934.

91. Mennella JA, Beauchamp GK. Effects of beer on breast-fed infants. JAMA 1993;269:1637 [letter].

92. Wisborg K, Kesmodel U, Henriksen TB, et al. A prospective study of smoking during pregnancy and SIDS. Arch Dis Child 2000;83:203-6.

93. Haglund B, Cnattingius S. Cigarette smoking as a risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome. Am J Public Health 1990;80:29-32.

94. Malloy MH, Kleinman JC, Land GH, Schramm WF. The association of maternal smoking with age and cause of infant death. Am J Epidemiol 1988;128:46-55.

95. Malloy MH, Hoffman HJ, Peterson DR. Sudden infant death syndrome and maternal smoking. Am J Public Health 1992;82:1380-2.

96. Blair PS, Fleming PJ, Bensley D, et al. Smoking and the sudden infant death syndrome: results from the 1993-5 case-control study for confidential inquiry into stillbirths and deaths in infancy. Confidential Enquiry into Stillbirths and Deaths Regional Coordinators and Researchers. BMJ 1996;313:195-8.

97. Reijnveld SA, Brugman E, Hirasing RA. Infantile colic: maternal smoking as potential risk factor. Arch Dis Child 2000;83:302-3.

98. Freed GL, Clark SJ, Sorenson J, et al. National assessment of physicians' breast-feeding knowledge, attitudes, training, and experience. JAMA 1995;273:472-6.

99. World Health Organization. Protecting, Promoting and Supporting Breast-Feeding: The Special Role of Maternity Services. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO, 1989, 13-8.

100. Howard CR, Howard FM, Weitzman ML. Infant formula distribution and advertising in pregnancy: a hospital survey. Birth 1994;21:14-9.

101. Frederick IB, Auerback KG. Maternal-infant separation and breast-feeding: the return to work or school. J Reprod Med 1985;30:523-6.

102. Widstrom AM, Wahlberg V, Matthiesen AS, et al. Short-term effects of early suckling and touch of the nipple on maternal behavior. Early Hum Dev 1990;21:153-63.

103. Worthington-Roberts BS, Williams SR. Nutrition in Pregnancy and Lactation, 4th ed. St. Louis, MO: Times Mirror/Mosby, 1989, 323-97 [review].

104. Ahn CH, MacLean WC. Growth of the exclusively breast-fed infant. Am J Clin Nutr 1980;33:183-92.

105. American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Fetus and Newborn, and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Maternal and newborn nutrition. In: Guidelines for Perinatal Care. 4th ed. Washington, DC: ACOG, AAP, 1997.

106. Hurst NM, Valentine CJ, Renfro L, et al. Skin-to-skin holding in the neonatal intensive care unit influences maternal milk volume. J Perinatol 1997;17:213-7.

107. Feher SDK, Berger LR, Johnson JD, Wilde JB. Increasing breast milk production for premature infants with a relaxation/imagery audiotape. Pediatrics 1989;83:57-60.

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2019.