What happens if you don’t eat while breastfeeding?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

When you are breastfeeding, it is important to ensure that you are consuming enough calories to support the production of breast milk. If you don’t eat enough while breastfeeding, it can have several negative effects on both you and your baby.

1. Decreased milk production: Breast milk is made from the nutrients and calories you consume. If you don’t consume enough food, your body may not have the necessary resources to produce an adequate supply of breast milk. This can result in a decrease in milk production, leaving your baby hungry and unsatisfied.

2. Poor quality of milk: Not eating enough can also lead to a decrease in the quality of your breast milk. Your body will prioritize its own nutritional needs over producing high-quality milk. This means that the composition of your milk may be lacking in essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that your baby needs for proper growth and development.

3. Dehydration: Breastfeeding requires extra fluids to keep your body hydrated. If you are not consuming enough water and fluids, you may become dehydrated. Dehydration can affect your milk supply and make it more difficult for your baby to feed effectively.

4. Fatigue and low energy levels: When you don’t eat enough, you are depriving your body of the fuel it needs to function properly. This can leave you feeling fatigued, weak, and low on energy. Taking care of a newborn is already demanding, and not eating enough can make it even more challenging.

5. Nutritional deficiencies: Your body needs a variety of nutrients to produce breast milk and maintain your own health. If you are not consuming enough food, you may be at risk of developing nutritional deficiencies. This can have long-term consequences for both you and your baby’s health.

6. Mood changes and emotional well-being: Not eating enough can also affect your emotional well-being. When your body is deprived of essential nutrients, it can impact your hormone levels and neurotransmitter function, leading to mood swings, irritability, and feelings of sadness or anxiety. This can make the already emotional rollercoaster of postpartum period even more challenging to navigate.

To ensure that you are providing adequate nutrition for yourself and your baby while breastfeeding, it is important to eat a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of foods from different food groups. Aim to consume extra calories, approximately 500-700 calories per day, to support milk production. It is also crucial to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, especially water.

If you are struggling with eating enough while breastfeeding, it is important to reach out for support. Consult with a lactation consultant, a registered dietitian, or your healthcare provider for guidance and assistance. They can help you develop a personalized nutrition plan that meets your needs and ensures the optimal health and well-being of both you and your baby.