Mom's Needs: Breastfeeding

Yesterday we talked about calorie needs during pregnancy, which took a natural turn to calorie needs when breastfeeding. (Side note: breastfeeding is a big topic, this post is just about calorie needs.)

There are many benefits to breastfeeding, but one significant perk is that it helps mom lose the baby weight. At a time when it's hard to distinguish days and nights, let alone days of the week, it is unfathomable to think about devoting time to getting back into shape. So it's a major bonus that those feeding time burns calories.

Photo credit to the Clinton County Health Department

Photo credit to the Clinton County Health Department

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, and recommends supplemental breastfeeding through one year. I know this isn't possible for many moms - for a variety of reasons - this is simply the recommendation of the experts. There's no guilt if that isn't your reality.

For those first 6 months, moms need to increase their calories by about 330 per day, and from months 7-12 need to increase calories by 400 per day. And don't worry, this takes into account that slow and steady weight loss is the goal at this point. 

What does this look like?

I have heard many women mention how hungry they get after feeding their babies. By adding in those calories as 2 snacks of 150-200 calories each (mid-morning and mid-afternoon), you help stave off some of that ravenous hunger. Some quick and easy ideas:

  • low-fat string cheese with 1 oz whole wheat crackers
  • a clementine with 15-20 almonds
  • 6 oz fat-free or 2% Greek yogurt with fruit
  • snack-size granola or protein bar (i.e. not a meal replacement bar)
  • whole wheat english muffin, 2 oz turkey, 1 Tbs mustard
  • an apple with 1 Tbs natural peanut or almond butter
  • 3 Tbs hummus with 1 cup raw veggies (like carrots, celery, pepper strips, cucumber)

Keep easy and nutritious options in the fridge and pantry. Planning ahead keeps you from chowing down on cold pizza at 3 am or polishing off a pint of ice cream. Many women are lucky to have a friend organize meals for the new family. Feel free to ask friends to throw in a snack or two. (Sidenote: this is also a great task for your father or father-in-law when they come to meet the baby.)  

What are your go-to snack ideas?


Katie Goldberg

Katie Goldberg, MCN, RDN, LDN, has been a registered dietitian since 2013, but has always had a passion for good food and a healthy lifestyle. Katie earned her Master’s of Clinical Nutrition from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and has worked in private practice, higher education, in a clinical setting, and as an in-house dietitian for a food company. Whether it's at through large groups or one-on-one, Katie enjoys connecting people with easy and practical solutions for better health.