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Lactating Mother Diet Chart to Boost Milk Supply

What is a Lactation Phase?

Pregnancy, a most beautiful phase ends with the birth of a new life, it opens a door to another absolutely new phase, in both the life of the mother and the child. This phase better known as the ‘lactation phase’ is an extension of pregnancy. In this phase where again the requirements of nutrients will be different as now you will be breastfeeding your baby. All the new mothers or soon-to-be mothers need to keep in mind that their diet and eating habits will surely affect the growth of their child. In this blog, I will tell you what are the correct eating guidelines for a lactating mother and some foods which can boost the milk supply.

lactating mother

How Many Additional Calories Are Needed In Breastfeeding

A lactating mother requires extra food to produce sufficient quantity/ quality of milk and to safeguard her own health.  The American Academy of Pediatrics further recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the primary 6 months. Just like pregnancy, energy, and nutritional requirements also differ during lactation and breastfeeding. Women who breastfeed require approximately 500 additional kcal/day more than what is recommended for non-pregnant women. The estimate is derived from the mean volume of breast milk produced per day (mean 780 mL, range 450-1200 mL) and the energy content of milk (67 kcal/100 mL). During pregnancy, most girls store an additional to 5 kg (19,000 to 48,000 kcal) in tissue. It is mainly as fat, in physiologic preparation for lactation. If women don’t consume the additional calories, then body stores are wont to maintain lactation. it’s commonplace for lactating women to lose 0.5-1.0 kg/month after the primary postpartum month. When the breastfed child gains a desirable amount of weight considered a successful lactation period. Some of the eating guidelines for a lactating woman are:


What All To Eat When Breastfeeding

  • Ensure that your diet includes all the food groups and has a variety of foods included.
  • Carbohydrates are an energy-giving food group that includes whole grains, cereals, etc. There are two types of carbohydrates, one is simple, and the other is complex. Simple carbohydrates, which are found in processed or packaged food items should be avoided. Complex carbohydrates are those which give us a fuller feeling for a long time. Examples of complex carbohydrates are fruits, whole grains, pulses, lentils, millets, etc.
  • Beans, pulses, and legumes are very important food groups. They are important in the process of growth and development of the body, and the formation of new cells. It is also important in repairing the old tissues which might have got damaged during the process of delivery. Pulses contain protein which is a very important nutrient for the body.
  • Tofu is also a very good option for people who are vegan or follow a vegan lifestyle.
  • Vegetables are the powerhouse of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Having a meal of at least 400g of different vegetables on daily basis will give us the health benefits for it.
  • Eating at least 2 servings on daily basis is recommended. Fruits are rich in fiber which gives satiety feeling for a longer time.
  • Fruits are also naturally sweet due to fructose(sugar) present in them. It can be eaten when someone is craving sweets.
  • Milk and milk products like yogurt, curd buttermilk, and paneer are very good sources of protein and calcium. At least 2-3 servings of milk or milk products can be had in a day.
  • lactating mother’s body needs maintained calcium quantity. If a mother is deficient then the child may receive its calcium needs from his/her mother’s body stores. So lactating women need to take care of their calcium needs as this can cause osteoporosis.
  • If a mother is lactose intolerant, then she can choose plant-based milk like- almond milk, and soy milk.

calories required for breastfeeding mom

Which Cooking Oil To Use When Breastfeeding

  • Use cooking oil in rotations. It should be selected carefully by seeing its MUFA and PUFA content. MUFA is a monounsaturated fatty acid and PUFA is a polyunsaturated fatty acid. MUFA-rich oils are considered more like: vegetable oil, olive oil, rice bran oil, etc.
  • Cooking oil can cause weight gain use it very carefully.

What Are The Benefits Of Exclusive Breastfeeding

  • A lactating mother should exclusively breastfeed her child for up to 6 months of age. This process can continue till 2 years of age in addition to complementary feeding.
  • Women can lose pregnancy weight using the exclusive breastfeeding method.

How To Maintain a Good Milk Supply

  • A lactating mother should eat small and frequent meals the whole day. Missing out on any meal is advisable.
  • For maintaining a proper milk supply and to avoid dehydration consume plenty of fluids throughout the day like milk, buttermilk, lassi, lemon water, coconut water, and fruit smoothies.
  • Protect your skin and improve vision using Vitamin A which is rich in foods like papaya, egg yolks, mangoes, and orange carrot.
  • The body requires more energy for the production of milk B- complex vitamins provide that energy.
  • Lactating women should take Vitamin C and Iron frequently as milk is not a very good source of these two nutrients.
  • Lactating women should take the help of a qualified dietitian for decoding food labels.

What Not to Do In Breastfeeding

  • Avoid using too much salt, sugar, and refined flour.
  • Less usage of packaged foods and processed products as these might contain preservatives, additives, and emulsifiers which might be harmful to the mother and child.
  • No alcohol during the lactation period as alcohol might pass into the breast milk and affect the development of the child.
  • No smoking during the lactation period as this might affect the child’s development
  • Don’t do any fad diets as these diets may look good in the beginning but they may worsen your condition over a period of time.
  • Consult a qualified dietitian who will help you to achieve your goals.
  • Women should avoid weight gain during lactation more than ideal body weight.

What Are Galactagogues

Galactagogues can cover insufficient milk supply. It typically increases prolactin levels and thus initiates the breast milk let-down reflex but also sometimes aids in breast milk ejection. Some foods that might help in increasing milk supply are:

  1. Garlic

  2. Fenugreek seed

  3. Spinach

  4. Almonds

  5. Garlic

  6. Barley

These superfoods only work when the mother is happy, calm, and stress-free as these factors also affect milk production.

Sample Menu Plan For Breastfeeding Lactating Mother


Meal Timings Food Items Quantity
Early morning Milk 1 ½ glass
Breakfast Idli sambhar/Dosa &


1 bowl/1-2 dosas
1 bowl
Mid- Morning Fruit Salad/ Fruit 1 bowl/1
Lunch Salad +
Chapati +
Veggies +
Dal/paneer/curd/Shark fish curry/chicken/Egg
1 cup
1-2 cup
1/50-60g/1 bowl/1
1 egg
Mid-evening Soup/Smoothie/
1 bowl/1 glass
Dinner Salad/
1 cup
1 cup
Bedtime Milk 1 cup

Written by Rupal Shah(Msc clinical nutrition, registered dietician from IDA)
Reviewed by Dr. Rupal Patel(DGO MRCOG, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist)


  1. Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics Manual for Nurses by V Supriya.
  2. Nutrition – A lifecycle approach (textbook) edited by Ravinder Chadha and         Pulkit Mathur.
  3. Frank J. Nice, BS, MS, MPA, DPA, Selection and use of galactagogues, ICAN August 2015.

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