Breastfeeding Nutrition: Key Nutrients Every New Mother Should Include in Her Diet

A balanced diet with omega-3 from fish and walnuts aids brain and vision development, calcium from dairy and greens supports bone growth, iron from fortified cereals and red meat prevents anemia.

Breastfeeding Nutrition: Key Nutrients Every New Mother Should Include in Her Diet
Breastfeeding Nutrition: Key Nutrients Every New Mother Should Include in Her Diet

As a new mother, one of the most important responsibilities you have is to provide proper nutrition to your baby through breastfeeding. Breast milk is a complete and ideal source of nourishment for your little one, packed with essential nutrients and antibodies that boost their immunity and promote healthy growth.

While breastfeeding is a natural process, it demands an increased need for specific nutrients to support both your health and the nutritional needs of your baby. In this blog, we will explore the key nutrients every Indian new mother should include in her diet and understand how they benefit both her and her baby's well-being.


Protein is crucial for repairing and building tissues in the body, and during lactation, the protein requirement increases to support milk production. Including protein-rich sources in your diet, such as lentils, pulses, dairy products, nuts, and seeds, is essential. These foods provide amino acids that aid in the development and growth of your baby's muscles and organs.

2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid), are essential for the neurological development of your baby. They contribute to brain and vision development. Cold-water fatty fish like salmon, sardines, chia seeds and walnuts are excellent sources of DHA. Including these in your diet can benefit your baby's cognitive and visual functions.

3. Calcium:

During breastfeeding, a significant amount of calcium is transferred from the mother's body to breast milk to support the baby's bone development. If the mother's calcium intake is insufficient, it can lead to the weakening of her own bones. Dairy products, leafy greens, sesame seeds, and almonds are rich sources of calcium that should be included in the diet.

4. Iron:

Iron plays a vital role in preventing anemia, a condition that can leave both the mother and the baby feeling fatigued. Fortified cereals, spinach, lentils, and red meat are excellent sources of iron. Combining iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods can enhance iron absorption.

5. Vitamin D:

Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and bone health. Sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D, and spending time outdoors can help maintain adequate levels. Additionally, including fortified milk and dairy products in the diet can contribute to meeting the vitamin D requirements.

6. Vitamin B12:

Vitamin B12 is vital for the healthy functioning of the nervous system and the production of red blood cells. During breastfeeding, it is essential to maintain optimal levels of vitamin B12 in the diet. Animal products like eggs, fish, and dairy are the primary sources of vitamin B12.

7. Iodine:

Iodine is crucial for the production of thyroid hormones that regulate metabolism and promote healthy growth. Including iodized salt and sea vegetables in the diet can help maintain sufficient iodine levels during breastfeeding.

8. Folate:

Folate, or vitamin B9, is essential for the growth and development of your baby's neural tube. Green leafy vegetables, lentils, and fortified grains are good sources of folate that should be included in the diet.


Including a variety of nutrient-rich foods in your diet can provide the essential vitamins and minerals needed for optimal lactation and the growth and development of your baby.

Remember to incorporate protein-rich foods like lentils and nuts for tissue repair and growth, Omega-3 fatty acids from fish and walnuts for brain and vision development, and calcium sources like dairy products and leafy greens to support your baby's bone development. Furthermore, ensure adequate intake of iron from sources like fortified cereals and red meat to prevent anemia, and include vitamin D from sunlight and fortified foods for calcium absorption and bone health.

Jayti Shah is a Clinical Nutritionist with a master's degree in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a member of the Indian Dietetic Association (IDA). Over the last 9 years, she has helped 400 clients in their clinical and weight loss journeys. She works with SocialBoat as a nutrition consultant.

At SocialBoat, we offer custom diet plans and guided workouts to help you achieve your goals in a 360-degree approach. Our gamified experience ensures that you don’t find workouts boring and we reward you for being consistent with your efforts.

Join the SocialBoat Fitness App


  1. Thiele, D. K., & Navare, S. (2018). Nutritional requirements of lactating women. Encyclopedia of food and health, 285-290.
  2. Koletzko, B., & Co, N. S. (2020). Protein and energy requirements during lactation. The journal of pediatrics, 184S, S16-S23.
  3. Hibbeln, J. R., Davis, J. M., Steer, C., Emmett, P., Rogers, I., Williams, C., ... & Golding, J. (2007). Maternal seafood consumption in pregnancy and neurodevelopmental outcomes in childhood (ALSPAC study): An observational cohort study. The Lancet, 369(9561), 578-585.
  4. Ward, K. A., & Prentice, A. (2005). Breast milk calcium and phosphorus concentrations of mothers in rural Gambia during the first 6 months of lactation. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 59(12), 1310-1316.
  5. Zimmermann, M. B. (2009). Iodine deficiency. Endocrine reviews, 30(4), 376-408.
  6. Haggarty, P. (2010). Folic acid and the prevention of neural tube defects. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 59(1), 17-21.