Experts share tips for safe breastfeeding diet

Woman maintains healthy diet for breastfeeding

With a newborn baby, you may wonder what’s safe to eat or drink while breastfeeding. There’s good news: most mothers are able to eat anything — within reason, according to Salem Health lactation consultants.

What and how much to eat and drink

Mothers who breastfeed their infant will need about 500 calories more per day than moms who do not. Instead of counting calories, let hunger guide how much you need to eat.

You may feel extra hungry because your body works around the clock to make breast milk for your baby. Eat small meals with healthy snacks in between to keep your energy high.

You also need a well-balanced diet to maintain strength and stamina to care for yourself and your infant. If not, your body will draw on its reserves to provide the nutrition your baby needs from your breast milk. Over time, this can lead to a nutritional depletion in your body.

For similar reasons, it is not prudent to start a diet while breastfeeding.

Water is important when you are breastfeeding. You don’t need to drink a strict 64 ounces a day, but you should drink enough not to be thirsty. Overloading on water will not increase milk supply.

Prescription interactions

Talk to your doctor if you are on certain prescriptions or if you have questions or concerns about your individual situation. Just as some medications can have potential side effects on you, some medications can be passed into your breast milk and have an effect on your baby.


All nurses at Salem Health’s Family Birth Center are trained to help mothers breastfeed. They recommend assistance for first-time moms and those who have difficulty, such as premature babies or babies who lose more weight than expected. Lactation consultants are on-site seven days a week.  

In-person support

For women seeking one-on-one breastfeeding consultation, there is a fee. However, some insurance companies will cover the cost. Visit the breastfeeding support page or call the lactation office at 503-814-4539 for more information.

Additionally, a breastfeeding support group is available for free for mothers who need follow up assistance, regardless of where she delivered her baby. “Mom and Me” Breastfeeding Support is available at:

  • Salem Health main campus — Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (except holidays), 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the CHEC (Community Health Education Center), Building D, first floor, classroom two.
  • Salem Health West Valley — Thursdays (except holidays), 1 to 2:30 p.m.


  • La Leche League International helps mothers around the world in 12 languages with breastfeeding support, information and education.
  • MOBI Motherhood International provides breastfeeding research, advocacy, education and support for mothers facing serious breastfeeding issues, including low milk supply.
  • Infant Risk Center at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center is the world’s leading research center for medication safety during pregnancy and lactation.

If you are looking for a great resource on breastfeeding, Salem Health lactation consultants recommend The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk by Diana West.