Eating for Breastfeeding: Calcium

Updated: Oct 19, 2019

Nursing mamas need more calcium! While you probably have heard that you need more calcium during your third trimester, you actually need to continue that intake post-partum. The suggested daily intake of calcium for breastfeeding mothers is 1,300 milligrams per day.

One study found a decrease of bone mineral density in lactating mothers, and that they only partially recovered 6 months after weaning (1). Another study confirms that women who breastfed longer than 6 months had increased bone turnover and transient bone loss (2). So yeah, it's important to get your calcium, mama!

Include Plenty of Calcium-Rich Foods to your Diet

How to get in that extra calcium? There are a few ways! Dairy is well known for it’s calcium content. Check out a few of these calcium-rich dairy foods:

  • 6 oz plain low-fat yogurt: 310 mg

  • 8 oz skim milk: 300 mg

  • 1 oz cheddar cheese (about 1 sandwich slice): 200 mg

But what if you are dealing with Milk Protein Intolerance with your breastfeeding babe? Don’t despair! Calcium is present in plenty of dairy-free foods:

  • 1 cup frozen collard greens, cooked: 360 mg

  • 3 oz canned sardines: 325 mg

  • 8 oz fortified almond or soy milk: 300 mg

  • 8 oz fortified orange juice: 300 mg

  • 1 cup cooked bok choy: 160 mg

Try blitzing some spinach to your morning smoothie (made with either dairy milk or a fortified alternative milk!), or fold it into your omelette. Enjoy canned sardines or salmon on a salad of mixed greens. Make some hot cocoa with the milk of your choice for an afternoon pick-me-up. Steam some bok choy and serve as a side dish.

Additionally, as a nursing mom, it’s important to take a multivitamin. Some women opt for a special breastfeeding or postpartum vitamin, and others continue to take their prenatal vitamin. You may need to take additional vitamins and minerals, as we’ve found several brands fall short. If you have questions about your prenatal vitamin, please set up an appointment with us. We’d love to help you achieve optimal health during your pregnancy, and beyond into the fourth trimester and breastfeeding.

  1. Affinito P, et al. Changes in bone mineral density and calcium metabolism in breastfeeding women: a one year follow-up study. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 1996; 81, 6: 2314–2318.

  2. López J M, et al. Bone turnover and density in healthy women during breastfeeding and after weaning. Osteoporosis International. 1996; 6, 2: 153-159.

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Questions about prenatal nutrition? Want to eat right for that Liquid Gold? On the struggle bus with a picky eater? Let us help you! We are available for consultations.

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