Required Caloric Intake For Breastfeeding Mothers


How many calories do breastfeeding mothers need?

You might find this hard to believe but if you are breastfeeding, you actually need as many, if not more extra calories than you did during pregnancy. Some of the energy needed to manufacture breast milk comes from fat stores, accumulated over your pregnancy. This is why breastfeeding aids in weight loss post-pregnancy. During lactation, or the period of milk production, you need to consume an extra 330 calories during the first 6 months. Energy needs increase to 400 additional calories from the seventh to twelfth month of breastfeeding. During lactation and breastfeeding, continue to consume an extra 25g of protein daily. Because lactating mothers normally produce about 25 oz. of breast milk daily, optimal hydration is essential. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, about 3 to 4 quarts daily.

What vitamins/minerals are most important during breastfeeding?

A pre-natal vitamin/mineral supplement may or may not be necessary during breastfeeding, however, nearly all breastfeeding women require supplementary iron to replenish stores depleted during pregnancy. If a new mother is not eating a well-balanced and adequate diet, and drinking plenty of fluids, it may affect the quantity (not the quality) of breast milk produced. Because extra protein is needed, the need for other nutrients, such as certain B-vitamins, that help convert protein and other nutrients to energy, increases. During breastfeeding, concentrate on consuming foods rich in vitamins A, C and E; thiamin, riboflavin and niacin, or vitamin B1, B2 and B3; folate and vitamin B12; biotin and pantothenic acid; as well as the minerals magnesium, zinc, selenium and iodine.


  • Drummond, K.E. & Brefer, L.M.: Nutrition for Foodservice & Culinary Professionals, 7th ed. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, New York, 2010.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Library: Food and Nutrition Information Center: Lifecycle Nutrition:
  • Institute of Medicine (IOM) Food and Nutrition Board (FNB): Dietary Reference Intake Tables for Individuals:
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: McKinley Health Center – Healthy Eating for Pregnancy and Lactation:



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