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Calories Needed While Breastfeeding?

How many calories do I need while breastfeeding?
ByLeigh Anne O'Connor
Lactation Specialist
Updated
February 26, 2017
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While the general rule of thumb says that breastfeeding mamas need about 500 calories per day over their usual pre-pregnancy intake, the truth is that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It can depend on your height, how active you are, how old your baby is and whether or not you’re exclusively breastfeeding. For example, a mom who’s exclusively nursing a breastfed five-month-old who’s going through a growth spurt will need significantly more calories than a mom who’s only breastfeeding her one-year-old at bedtime — and that’s assuming the moms share a similar size, shape and activity level.

So how do you know how much to eat? Follow your appetite. Most moms notice that they feel hungrier than usual when they begin breastfeeding and each time their babies go through a growth spurt. Aim to satisfy your hunger with healthy, nutritious foods.

But there’s one number you do have to watch. Don’t let your caloric intake dip below 1,800 calories per day. If you go any lower than that, your body will go into “starvation” mode and your milk supply may drop. 

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