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Do Breastfeeding Mothers Need Extra Calories?

Extra Calories, do Mothers need it?


Do breastfeeding moms need to consume extra? Often, we heard about this statement, saying that lactating mothers should eat more than their usual portion in order to breastfeed the baby. But how true is that?

How Many Extra Calories Should a Breastfeeding Mother Consume?

Yes, the production of breast milk does demand extra calories. According to Recommended Nutrients Intake (RNI) for Malaysia 2017, energy needs for mother during breastfeeding for the first 6 months increase by about 500 kilocalories per day. 

Healthy Diet Required During Breastfeeding

The addition of this 500kcal can be either from a complete meal or snacks. For a complete meal, eating a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods is vital for mother’s and baby’s health. As an example, a complete meal consisting approximately two scoops (flat) of plain rice/ bihun/pasta, a serving of lean meat/ fish/ eggs/ dairy/ beans/ lentils, half plate of leafy vegetables and one serving of fruit provides around 500kcal (with minimal fat is used). 

However, if a mother finds it is tough to achieve this additional energy by adding a complete meal into her daily diet, it will be more practical to achieve this requirement through snacking. Frequent snacking (2-3 times per day) may help mother to achieve this 500kcal easily in a day.

For example, healthy snacking with ~100 – 200kcal includes one serving of sandwiches, hummus, smoothie, milk, malted drinks as well as nuts & seeds. You can even opt for Popo Mama’s lactation cookies and energy rice bars to fulfil the requirement.   

In a nutshell, yes, breastfeeding mothers do require extra calorie intake for breastmilk production, but not to the extent of double up the portion of foods compared with usual intake before pregnancy. 



Article written by:
Foo Kai Li
Registered Member of Nutrition Society Malaysia (NSM)


𝐃𝐢𝐬𝐜𝐥𝐚𝐢𝐦𝐞𝐫: 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐥𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐚 𝐠𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐥 𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐰 𝐛𝐲 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐍𝐮𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐢𝐬𝐭 & 𝐃𝐢𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐚𝐧. 𝐀𝐥𝐰𝐚𝐲𝐬 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐮𝐥𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐚𝐧 𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐫𝐢𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐟𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐟𝐢𝐜 𝐚𝐝𝐯𝐢𝐬𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐝𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬.



  1. National Coordinating Committee on Food and Nutrition, Ministry of Health Malaysia (2017). Recommended Nutrient Intakes for Malaysia. 
  2. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (2020). Maternal Diet. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-special-circumstances/diet-and-micronutrients/maternal-diet.html#:~:text=An%20additional%20450%20to%20500,per%20day%20for%20moderately%20active

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