Breastfeeding: Calories needed for lactation

How many extra calories does a lactating woman need each day?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

It was once thought that a nursing mother needed to have significantly more calories and nutrients than a non-lactating woman, upwards of 700 to 1000 calories. Today, the revised number is about 500 calories per day beyond the regular, daily diet.

Your total dietary calorie count depends on your current weight. Generally, nursing mothers maintain an intake of closer to 2200 calories per day and even lower, around 1800 calories, when hoping to lose weight.

Optimally nursing mothers should eat a well-balanced diet, rich in nutrient dense foods. In fact, during pregnancy and lactation many mothers are already well motivated, so it is a wonderful time to encourage healthy eating.

It is important to remember that a mother does not need a perfect (or near perfect diet) to breastfeed her baby.

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