What to Eat While You're Breastfeeding

Good news: Most of the foods that were off-limits while you were pregnant are totally OK once your baby is born. Yes, even if you’re breastfeeding!

Most new moms worry about what to eat while you’re breastfeeding, thinking that certain foods could make their babies gassy (like garlic) or put them at risk for getting sick (like unpasteurized cheese or meats). But in reality, experts agree that most babies don’t tend to develop digestion problems from the foods their moms are eating. And while bacteria from unpasteurized foods can still make you sick, your baby can’t get infected from drinking your milk.

The one exception to the rule is fish. Pregnant women and young kids are advised to avoid fish that contain high levels of mercury, like shark, swordfish, kind mackerel, tilefish, fresh or frozen tuna, and striped bass. The same goes for breastfeeding moms, since mercury can pass into your milk and affect your baby’s developing nervous system. Since omega-3 fatty acids are still important, you should still eat a few weekly servings of low-mercury fish (Purdue University has a great printable wallet guide).

One other thing to remember: Even if you’re eager to shed the last of the baby weight, don’t skimp on food. To give your body the fuel it needs to produce milk, you need about the same number of calories while breastfeeding as you did while you were pregnant. The takeaway? Eat a variety of wholesome, nutritious foods when you’re hungry, and don’t worry about counting calories.