Nutritional Requirements For Lactating Mothers

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It is not unusual for lactating mothers to neglect their diet, particularly for first-time mothers. This is one of the most challenging periods, as there are too many changes and adjustments the mother needs to consider, often leading to poor feeding habits. While caring for the baby is the top priority postpartum, lactating mothers’ nutritional needs should be considered to ensure the baby’s food demand is met.

“Breast milk is the ideal nourishment for babies, as it contains all of the nutrients required for their growth and development,” says babysbestfood’s nutritionist.

lactating mothers

However, according to a post by Optimistic Mommy, the quality and quantity of breast milk a mother produces depend on her nutritional status. Therefore, lactating mothers need a healthy and balanced diet to meet their nutritional requirements and provide adequate nutrition to their newborns.


Lactating mothers require additional calories to produce breast milk. A nursing mother requires an extra 500 calories daily on average; however, this might differ based on the mother’s weight, age, and amount of physical activity. The calorie intake should come from nutrient-dense foods, such as whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables, to ensure optimal nutrition for both the mother and baby.


Protein is essential for the growth and development of the baby, and lactating mothers need more protein than non-lactating women. On average, a lactating mother needs 71 grams of protein per day. Good protein sources include lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, beans, lentils, and nuts.


Carbohydrates provide energy to the mother, and the baby also uses them as fuel. Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, are a better option than simple carbohydrates, such as sugar and refined grains, as they provide more nutrients and fiber.


Fats are essential for the baby’s brain development and the mother’s overall health. Lactating mothers should consume healthy fats, such as those found in fish, nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils, and limit saturated and trans fats found in processed and fried foods.

Vitamins And Minerals

Lactating mothers have higher nutritional requirements than non-lactating women, including an increased need for certain vitamins and minerals. Calcium is particularly important for supporting the baby’s bone development and can be found in good sources such as dairy products, leafy green vegetables, and fortified foods.

Moreover, iron is crucial for lactating mothers to prevent anemia and support the production of red blood cells, which can be found in lean meat, poultry, fish, beans, lentils, and fortified cereals. Vitamin D is necessary for bone health and immune system function, and lactating mothers should aim to get 600-800 IU per day through sunlight exposure or supplements.

Vitamin B12 is required for the baby’s brain development and the mother’s nerve and red blood cell health; found in meat, fish, dairy products, and fortified cereals. Additionally, folate enhances the baby’s brain and spinal cord development and can be found in leafy green vegetables, beans, lentils, and fortified cereals. Finally, Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for the baby’s brain and eye development, which can be found in fatty fish like salmon and tuna, as well as walnuts.


Lactating mothers should drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and produce adequate breast milk. The recommended fluid intake for lactating mothers is 13 cups per day, including water, milk, and other beverages.

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