Free Shipping on $49+ | Free Returns

Calories Burned Breastfeeding: A Quick Guide

Breastfeeding is a wonderful and natural way to provide essential nutrients and antibodies to our little ones. But did you know that it also has benefits for mothers? One of the perks of breastfeeding is that it can help burn calories, which may contribute to postpartum weight loss.

I'm going to talk about calories burned while breastfeeding, which is an interesting aspect that many new moms might not be aware of. It's estimated that moms burn about 450-500 extra calories a day while producing breast milk. This could lead to faster weight loss after birth, but keep in mind that this doesn't guarantee breastfeeding as a weight loss miracle.

So, with this information in mind, new mothers can better understand their nutritional needs while nursing. It's important to consume additional 330 to 400 calories a day to ensure both mom and baby receive the energy and nutrients they require for a healthy breastfeeding journey.

Understanding Calories and Breastfeeding

Calories: What Are They and How They Work?

As a new mom, I'm constantly reminded that calories are essential units of energy that our bodies need to function properly. They fuel our everyday activities and even help us maintain a healthy weight. That's why understanding calories and their role in our bodies is crucial, especially when it comes to breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding and Its Caloric Impact

Breastfeeding is a beautiful way to provide my baby with the nutrients they need for growth and development. However, during this process, I also end up burning calories myself. This energy expenditure is necessary for milk production as well as the extra demands of caring for my little one. In fact, I've learned that breastfeeding moms secrete around 450 to 500 calories into breast milk daily!

Milk Production and Caloric Demand

Naturally, milk production is an essential part of the breastfeeding journey, and as a breastfeeding mom, I experienced an increased caloric demand. I found out that during this phase, it is important to consume an extra 330 to 400 kilocalories (kcal) per day, compared to the amount I consumed before pregnancy (approximately 2,000 to 2,800 kcal per day for breastfeeding).

My activity level, height, and weight all contribute to the number of additional calories I need. By meeting these extra caloric demands, I can ensure that I have enough energy to continue breastfeeding, all while maintaining my milk supply and overall well-being.

As a friendly reminder, it's important for breastfeeding moms like me to monitor our calorie intake, activity levels, and milk production to meet our nutritional needs while providing our babies with nourishing breast milk.

Nutritional Needs While Breastfeeding

Importance of a Balanced Diet

As a breastfeeding mom, it's important for me to maintain a well-balanced diet to ensure that I'm providing all the necessary nutrients for my baby and maintaining my own health. Eating a variety of healthy foods, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meat, yogurt, eggs, beans, seafood, dairy, peanut butter, nuts, lentils, peas, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts, allows me to meet my nutritional requirements while providing all the essential nutrients the baby needs for proper growth and development.

Essential Vitamins and Nutrients

During this time, I need to make sure I'm consuming enough vitamins and nutrients to support both the baby and myself. Taking a daily multivitamin is an excellent way to ensure that I'm getting everything I need. Some of the essential vitamins and nutrients for breastfeeding moms include:

  • Vitamin D: Helps with calcium absorption, promoting healthy bones and teeth.
  • Iron: Supports red blood cell production and helps prevent anemia.
  • Folic Acid: Essential for the healthy development of the baby's nervous system.
  • Calcium: Important for strong bones and teeth, as well as muscle and nerve function.

I also need to ensure that I'm consuming the right amount of calories to meet my nutritional needs while breastfeeding. This may vary depending on my weight, activity level, and the age of my baby, but a general guideline is to consume an additional 300-500 calories per day.

Hydration and Its Role

Staying hydrated is vital while I'm breastfeeding. Drinking plenty of water is essential to support breast milk production and maintain my overall health. To ensure that I'm staying properly hydrated, I can monitor the color of my urine, aiming for clear or pale yellow.

One way I use to keep track of my water intake is by carrying a reusable water bottle with me throughout the day and making sure to refill it regularly. Additionally, drinking water before and after nursing sessions can help maintain optimal hydration levels.

Diet Considerations: Foods to Include

It's essential to focus on consuming a variety of nutrient-dense foods while breastfeeding. Some examples of healthy choices include:

  • Whole grains: Oats, brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat bread.
  • Fruits: Berries, apples, oranges, and bananas.
  • Vegetables: Leafy greens, bell peppers, carrots, and sweet potatoes.
  • Lean proteins: Skinless chicken, turkey, fish, and tofu.
  • Dairy: Low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese.
  • Beans and legumes: Kidney beans, chickpeas, and lentils.

Incorporating these foods into my meals and snacks ensures that I'm providing the best possible nutrition for my baby and maintaining my own health as well. Eating a well-balanced diet during this time is crucial for both my baby and myself, as it provides essential nutrients necessary for overall health and well-being.

Weight and Breastfeeding

Weight Gain During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, it's normal for me to gain weight as my baby grows. This weight gain comes from various factors such as the baby's weight, the increased blood volume, and even the extra body fat I accumulate in preparation for breastfeeding. It's essential to maintain a well-balanced diet and engage in regular physical activity during pregnancy for a healthy weight gain, which in turn benefits the baby and me.

Postpartum Weight and Weight Loss

After giving birth, I can expect to lose some of the gained weight, but not all of it right away. It takes time for my body to adjust and recover from pregnancy, and losing weight too quickly may not be safe or good for my health. It's essential to allow myself some time to heal before embarking on a weight loss plan. It's also crucial to remember that I need a nutritious diet to ensure adequate energy and nutrients for my own health and my baby's growth.

Role of Breastfeeding in Weight Loss

Breastfeeding can help me with postpartum weight loss as I burn more calories while producing breast milk. On average, I burn around 450-500 calories daily while breastfeeding. This increased calorie expenditure may help me lose weight naturally, as long as I maintain a healthy diet and remain active.

It's important to note that the calorie needs of breastfeeding differ from one woman to another, and factors such as my weight, metabolism, and how often I breastfeed can play a role in determining my calorie needs. Here's a rough estimate of what my calorie needs may look like:

  • Daily calories needed to maintain my weight: This is my normal calorie intake, taking into consideration my age, weight, height, and activity level.
  • Daily calories to lose weight safely: A reduction in my calorie intake that allows me to lose weight gradually while ensuring I still receive adequate energy and nutrients for my health and milk supply.
  • Minimum daily calories to maintain milk supply: The lowest calorie intake I should have to ensure my body has enough energy and nutrients to produce a sufficient, healthy milk supply for my baby.

In conclusion, by understanding my body's needs and the role of breastfeeding in weight loss, I can take an informed and safe approach to losing baby weight. Ultimately, the focus should lie in establishing a balanced diet, staying active, and breastfeeding my baby – which is beneficial for both my baby's health and my postpartum weight loss journey.

Exercise and Breastfeeding

Importance of Exercise Postpartum

After giving birth, it's important for new mothers to ease back into a regular exercise routine. Exercise offers several postpartum benefits, such as improving mood, energy levels, and sleep quality. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that mothers gradually increase their activity level, starting with light activities before progressing to more strenuous exercises.

Exercise’s Influence on Calorie Burn and Breastfeeding

While breastfeeding, I am burning between 300 and 500 calories daily. Adding exercise to my daily routine can help increase the number of calories burned and aid in postpartum weight loss. As a breastfeeding mother, my calorie intake should be at least 1,800 calories per day to maintain a sufficient milk supply and proper nutrition. Incorporating exercise can help me manage my postpartum weight while still providing adequate nutrition for my baby.

Safe Exercise Guidelines for Breastfeeding Mothers

It's essential to consult with my healthcare provider before starting any new exercise regimen postpartum. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the ACOG have provided guidelines for safe exercises for breastfeeding mothers, such as:

  • Start with low-impact activities like walking, swimming, or cycling.
  • Gradually increase the intensity and duration of my workouts.
  • Pay attention to my body's signals and avoid overexertion.
  • Stay hydrated and consume a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet.

With the right approach to exercise and nutrition, I can create a healthy balance between burning calories, maintaining my milk supply, and feeling energetic throughout my breastfeeding journey.

Breastfeeding and Special Diets

As a breastfeeding mother, I know it's essential to maintain a healthy diet to ensure my baby gets the nutrients they need. In this section, I'll discuss special diets and how they can affect breastfeeding, including vegetarian and vegan diets, seafood consumption, and dietary restrictions.

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

As a vegetarian or vegan breastfeeding mother, it is important to make sure that both me and my baby get all the essential nutrients. To achieve this, I make sure I consume a variety of protein sources such as beans, lentils, tofu, and tempeh. I also pay special attention to my vitamin B12 and D, iron, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acid intake. This can be achieved through fortified foods or supplements, if necessary. It's a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional to ensure that my vegetarian or vegan diet is meeting the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Seafood, Mercury, and Breastfeeding

When it comes to seafood, I understand that some fish can contain high levels of mercury, which can be harmful to my baby. I follow the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics to consume fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and sardines, while limiting the consumption of fish with higher mercury levels, like shark and swordfish. It's advisable to consume 8-12 ounces of seafood per week, according to the dietary guidelines for Americans.

Breastfeeding and Dietary Restrictions

I know that some breastfeeding mothers may have dietary restrictions due to food allergies, diabetes, or other health conditions. It's important for me to recognize that an adequate diet can still be maintained with proper planning and guidance from healthcare professionals.

For example, if I were to have diabetes, I would work closely with my healthcare provider to manage my blood sugar levels and follow a diet tailored to my needs. If I ever experience an allergic reaction to a specific food, I would avoid consuming that food and ensure that my diet still provides all necessary nutrients.

Of course, it's worth mentioning that certain foods like cauliflower and Brussels sprouts may cause gassiness in my baby. While it's not necessary to eliminate these foods from my diet, I can monitor my baby's reaction and adjust my diet accordingly if needed.


As I've researched the topic of calorie burn from breastfeeding, I'm pleased to share my findings with you in a friendly and conversational manner. Most importantly, let's remember that all bodies are different, and each person's experience with breastfeeding may vary. However, using the available data and resources, I'll provide some general conclusions.

During the process of breastfeeding, it appears that new mothers may burn an average of 300 to 500 calories per day. This energy expenditure comes mainly from the process of milk production in their bodies. While breastfeeding is not an intense physical activity, the caloric burn reflects the body's metabolic work in producing milk to nourish the baby.

In addition to the calories burned by the mother, it's essential to consider the baby's nutritional needs during the breastfeeding journey. The estimated calorie requirements for infants depend on factors such as age, sex, and size. For example, a male infant between 7 to 9 months old may require 668 to 746 calories per day, while a female infant in the same age range might need slightly fewer calories.

To ensure adequate nutrition and weight loss for the mother, it's essential to maintain a healthy calorie deficit through breastfeeding and slight dietary modifications. A gradual weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week is suggested by creating a modest daily calorie deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories. Combining breastfeeding with a balanced diet and regular physical activity will help new mothers achieve their health and fitness goals.

In conclusion, while breastfeeding, both the mother and baby have unique caloric requirements. Understanding these requirements can help ensure a successful breastfeeding experience, promote health for both mom and baby, and support mothers in achieving their postpartum weight loss goals.