Nutrition & Fitness

A healthy diet is important for everyone. Some new moms wonder if they should be on a special diet while breastfeeding. The answer is no. You can continue to enjoy the foods that are important to your family, including the meals you know and love.

Nutrition Tips
Some Foods May Affect Your Milk
Sometimes a breastfed baby may be sensitive to something the mother eats.

The following symptoms could indicate your baby has an allergy or sensitivity to something you eat:

These signs do not mean your baby is allergic to your milk, only to something that you ate.

You may need to stop eating whatever is bothering your baby or eat less of it. After a few months you may be able to eat the food again with better results.

Talk with your baby’s healthcare provider if you notice your baby having any food allergy symptoms. If your baby ever has problems breathing, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room immediately.

Foods for Breastfeeding Moms

Get A Daily Plan for Moms Designed Just for You

The USDA’s online, interactive tool can help you choose foods based on your baby’s nursing habits and your energy needs.

Vegan Diets

If you follow a diet that does not include any form of animal protein you or your baby might not get enough vitamin B-12.
In babies, not enough B-12 can cause symptoms such as:

You can help protect your and your baby’s health by taking vitamin B-12 supplements while breastfeeding. Talk to your healthcare provider about your supplement needs.


Being active helps you stay healthy, feel better, and have more energy. It does not affect the quality or quantity of your milk or your baby’s growth. Unless your doctor tells you not to be active, include 2½ hours of physical activity each week.

Start with a 10 or 15-minute activity that you can do most days throughout the week.

Advice About Eating Fish

Fish and other protein-rich foods have nutrients that can help your baby’s growth and development. Some fish have higher levels of mercury, which can pass to your baby through human milk. Exposure to mercury can harm your baby’s brain and nervous system development. This chart can help you choose which fish to eat, and how often to eat them, based on their mercury levels.
  • Anchovy
  • Atlantic croaker
  • Atlantic mackerel
  • Black sea bass
  • Butterfish
  • Catfish
  • Clam
  • Cod
  • Crab
  • Crawfish
  • Flounder
  • Haddock
  • Hake
  • Herring
  • Lobster, American and spiny
  • Mullet
  • Oyster
  • Pacific chub mackerel
  • Perch, freshwater, and ocean
  • Pickerel
  • Plaice
  • Pollock
  • Salmon
  • Sardine
  • Scallop
  • Shad
  • Shrimp
  • Skate
  • Smelt
  • Sole
  • Squid
  • Tilapia
  • Trout, canned light (includes skipjack)
  • Whitefish
  • Whiting
  • Bluefish
  • Buffalofish
  • Carp
  • Chilean sea bass/Patagonian toothfish
  • Grouper
  • Halibut
  • Mahi mahi/dolphinfish
  • Monkfish
  • Rockfish
  • Sablefish
  • Sheepshead
  • Snapper
  • Spanish mackerel
  • Striped bass (ocean)
  • Tilefish (Atlantic Ocean)
  • Tuna, albacore/white tuna, canned and fresh/frozen
  • Tuna, yellowfin
  • Weakfish/seatrout
  • White croaker/Pacific croaker
  • King mackerel
  • Marlin
  • Orange roughy
  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • Tilefish (Gulf of Mexico)
  • Tuna, bigeye

Side-Lying Hold

  1. For the right breast, lie on your right side with your baby facing you.
  2. Pull your baby close. Your baby’s mouth should be level with your nipple.
  3. In this position, you can cradle your baby’s back with your left arm and support yourself with your right arm and/or pillows.
  4. Keep loose clothing and bedding away from your baby.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:


Cross-Cradle Hold

  1. For the right breast, use your left arm to hold your baby’s head at your right breast and baby’s body toward your left side. A pillow across your lap can help support your left arm.
  2. Gently place your left hand behind your baby’s ears and neck, with your thumb and index finger behind each ear and your palm between baby’s shoulder blades. Turn your baby’s body toward yours so your tummies are touching.
  3. Hold your breast as if you are squeezing a sandwich. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Instead, bring your baby to you.
  4. As your baby’s mouth opens, push gently with your left palm on baby’s head to help them latch on. Make sure you keep your fingers out of the way.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:


Clutch or “Football” Hold

  1. For the right breast, hold your baby level, facing up, at your right side.
  2. Put your baby’s head near your right nipple and support their back and legs under your right arm.
  3. Hold the base of your baby’s head with your right palm. A pillow underneath your right arm can help support your baby’s weight.
  4. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Bring baby to you instead.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:


Cradle Hold

  1. For the right breast, cradle your baby with your right arm. Your baby will be on their left side across your lap, facing you at nipple level.
  2. Your baby’s head will rest on your right forearm with your baby’s back along your inner arm and palm.
  3. Turn your baby’s tummy toward your tummy. Your left hand is free to support your breast, if needed. Pillows can help support your arm and elbow.
  4. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Instead, bring your baby to you.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:


Laid-Back Hold

  1. Lean back on a pillow with your baby’s tummy touching yours and their head at breast level. Some moms find that sitting up nearly straight works well. Others prefer to lean back and lie almost flat.
  2. You can place your baby’s cheek near your breast, or you may want to use one hand to hold your breast near your baby. It’s up to you and what you think feels best.
  3. Your baby will naturally find your nipple, latch, and begin to suckle.

This hold is useful when: