Ask Dr. Stephanie

How Much Protein Does a Breastfeeding Mom Need?

How Much Protein Does a Breastfeeding Mom Need?

How much protein does a breastfeeding mom need? And does it matter what kind? These are a couple of questions raised by a recent Consumer Reports article suggesting that most people require less protein than they think.

Proteins are important for immune and neurological function and are the building blocks for tissues, muscle and bones, says Dr. Stephanie Canale, founder of Lactation Lab. “It’s important that when we’re talking about a mother's recommended protein intake, we take into account a breastfeeding mother’s need for protein to recover from the physiological strain of pregnancy and childbirth," she said.

Do Supplements Really Work to Increase Milk Supply?

Do Supplements Really Work to Increase Milk Supply?

My patients often ask me about the efficacy and safety of the supplements that claim to increase your milk supply. Do they really work?

If you’re struggling with milk supply issues, the first step is to evaluate simple factors including latch evaluation, oral examination of the infant, frequency of feeding or pumping and thoroughness of breast emptying. A lactation consultant, often available at your local hospital or breastfeeding support store, can be invaluable in identifying if there are underlying issues contributing to milk supply.

How Can I Be Sure To Pump Enough Milk?

It has been said many times over and most mothers who nurse would agree that there is no better breast pump than baby! From my experience, there appears to be a growing proportion of women who choose to pump milk from the outset. Some women either have difficulty with latching, have nipple issues or simply prefer to pump.

Here are a few tips I would like to share as a physician, mother, and “master pumper!”

Why do babies spit up?


The medical term for spitting up" is gastroesophageal reflux, or reflux. It happens when milk or solid food in the stomach comes back up into your baby's esophagus (the tube that joins the mouth and the stomach).

Babies spit up when they've eaten too much or when they've swallowed too much air while feeding. Spitting up usually happens when babies burp or drool. Spitting up is not vomiting and babies usually don't notice when they spit up. Vomiting is forceful and painful. Spitting up is common for most babies until about the time they can eat solid foods (usually around 6 months to 1 year of age).

While reflux is normal in babies,  you should contact your doctor if you notice your baby has the following symptoms:

  • Not gaining weight
  • Spits up a large amount of milk (more than 1 or 2 tablespoons)
  • Spits up or vomits forcefully
  • Has fewer wet diapers than normal
  • Seems very tired or lethargic
  • Spits up green or brown liquid


Image of baby spit up

When should I burp my baby?

Whether feeding your newborn by breast or a bottle, you may be stumped as to how often to do so. Generally, it is recommended that babies be fed on demand - whenever they seem hungry. Your baby may cue you by crying, putting fingers in his or her mouth, or making sucking noises.

A newborn baby needs to be fed every 2 to 3 hours. If you're breastfeeding, give your baby the chance to nurse about 10-15 minutes at each breast. 

Some newborns may need to be awakened every few hours to make sure they get enough to eat. Call your baby's doctor if you need to awaken your newborn more frequently or if your baby doesn't seem interested in eating or sucking.

Babies often swallow air during feedings, which can make them fussy. You can prevent this by burping your baby frequently. Try burping your baby every 2 to 3 ounces (60-90 milliliters) if you bottle-feed, and each time you switch breasts if you breastfeed.

if your baby tends to be gassy, has gastroesophageal reflux, or seems fussy during feeding, try burping your little one every ounce during bottle-feeding or every 5 minutes during breastfeeding.

Image of burp the baby

What should I eat while breastfeeding?

The best diet for a breastfeeding woman is well balanced and has plenty of calcium, This means eating fruits, vegetables, whole-grain cereals and bread, meats, beans and milk and dairy foods such as cheese.

         A breastfeeding mom needs to get enough calories -- about 500 more per day than           usual -- and needs to drink more fluids.

A balanced diet that includes 5 servings of milk or dairy products each day will provide enough calcium. If you don't eat meat or dairy products, you can get the calcium you need from broccoli, sesame seeds, tofu, and kale.

Talk to your doctor about taking extra calcium if you don't think you're getting enough from your diet. If you are concerned about the nutritional value of your breast milk, you can order one of our test kits.


What are the benefits of breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding has many benefits for your baby. Breast milk is rich in nutrients. It contains antibodies, which help protect your baby against infections. And it helps to prevent babies from developing allergies as they grow.

Breastfeeding also has benefits for mothers.

It is clean and simple as you don't have to wash bottles or mix formula. It is cheaper than using formula. It helps the uterus contract back to normal size after having been stretched during pregnancy. It delays the return of periods (although you shouldn't count on it to prevent pregnancy). And it helps make time for you to be close to your baby.