Congratulations! Becoming a mother is a special and exciting time. As much as it’s important for your baby to get the right amount of nutrients for their health, growth and development, it’s also vital that you nourish yourself, which includes eating and drinking well to aid your recovery and ensure you are in the very best place to take care of your baby.


Why is a new mum's diet important?

You don’t need to have a special diet as a new mother, but you should ensure you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes a variety of foods. This should provide all the vitamins, minerals and macronutrients you and your baby need, especially during breastfeeding.

It can be a little trickier to get all the nutrients you need if you are breastfeeding exclusively. During this time your energy requirements may go up a little, and there are some nutrients you'll need to pay special attention to, such as calcium and vitamin D (which helps with the absorption of calcium to keep your bones healthy). Getting adequate vitamin D from the diet is tricky because there aren’t that many foods that are reliable sources, so all breastfeeding mothers should consider a daily supplement of 10mcg vitamin D.

Discover our healthy recipe collections, including healthy breakfasts, lunches and dinners, with vegetarian and vegan options, too.

10 healthy recipes to help new mums achieve a balanced diet

1. Fruit salad

fruit salad

Contributing towards your 5-a-day, fruit salads are tasty and make a hydrating snack in between meals or a refreshing dessert. All adults are advised to eat at least five portions of fruits and vegetables a day. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals, which are essential for health, and are a good source of fibre, which is important for maintaining gut health.

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Try this easy fruit salad.

2. Okra with tomato sauce & couscous

Okra with tomato sauce & couscous

This wholesome meal contains okra, a vegetable with a subtle flavour. It is a good source of folate, magnesium and fibre, and enjoying it as part of a meal will contribute to your 5-a-day. If you don’t like okra, you can substitute it with any vegetable of your choice.

Couscous is a source of starchy carbs, which makes it a useful energy source. It also contains some B vitamins, iron, calcium and folate. Being made from wheat, couscous contains gluten, and is therefore not suitable for those with a gluten intolerance or coeliac disease. If you're gluten-free, try some of our healthy gluten-free alternatives.

Try this okra with tomato sauce & couscous.

3. Healthy spiced rice pudding

healthy spiced rice pudding

Breastfeeding places extra demands on your calcium needs (1250mg a day versus 700mg) because calcium supports milk production. Consuming adequate amounts of this important mineral helps replenish any loss you may have experienced during your pregnancy.

This comforting rice pudding is a useful source of calcium, but you can also increase your calcium intake through milk, cheese, yogurt and fromage frais, as well as green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds. Enjoying some higher-fat foods may enrich your breast milk, because both the quality and quantity of the fat you eat influences its composition.

Rice pudding is a classic comfort food and makes an ideal bedtime snack, with ingredients like the milk and cream helping your body produce hormones that aid sleep and relaxation.

Try this healthy spiced rice pudding.

4. Stir-fried noodles with vegetables & tofu

singapore noodles with tofu

If you don’t eat dairy, you can still get calcium from non-dairy food sources. One example is tofu, and this delicious dish combines it with vegetables and noodles. You can add some broccoli too as it’s another source of calcium. Other non-dairy calcium sources include brown bread, pulses and dried fruit.

Try these stir-fried noodles with vegetables & tofu.

5. One-pot harissa chicken

one-pot Moroccan chicken

While a healthy and balanced diet will provide all the protein most people need, during pregnancy and breastfeeding some people need a boost.

This tasty chicken casserole is packed with protein as well as vegetables, and is low in fat. If you don’t eat or like chicken, the spices and flavours in this recipe work well with beans or lentils too.

Try this one-pot harissa chicken.

6. Salmon, sesame & asparagus open sandwich

Salmon, sesame and asparagus open sandwich

UK dietary guidelines encourage us all to enjoy two portions of fish per week, with one portion being an oily variety such as salmon, trout, mackerel or sardines. This is because oily fish is a useful source of essential omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamin D, while all varieties of fish are useful sources of vitamin B2 as well as calcium, iodine and zinc.

Don’t forget, when breastfeeding you should aim for no more than two portions of oily fish per week. It's unlikely that shark makes up a big part of your daily diet, but the NHS does recommend avoiding shark, marlin and swordfish as they can be high in mercury and other contaminants.

Try this salmon open sandwich.

7. Oat & chia porridge

oat and chia porridge

Easy, nourishing breakfast ideas that require little preparation and are easy to cook are a saviour for new mums. Our oat and chia porridge is packed with healthy ingredients such as flaxseed, which are a good plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Porridge, with its slow-releasing complex carbohydrates, helps sustain energy levels through the morning and will help keep you fuller for longer.

Try this oat & chia porridge.

8. Paneer curry

Paneer jalfrezi

It’s very common for mums-to-be to follow a good diet during pregnancy but to forget their own needs once their baby is born. Nutrient needs in early postpartum and during breastfeeding are just as important as during your pregnancy. It's at this point that you need to restore energy levels and take on additional nutrients to account for blood loss and to promote wound healing.

Rich in protein, calcium and iron, this tasty dish is ideal for aiding your recovery and topping up important nutrients for you and your baby. Small amounts of what you're eating and drinking can pass to your baby through your breast milk. However, it’s fine to eat spicy foods, like this tasty curry while nursing. In fact, it may benefit your baby by introducing them to a greater variety of tastes and flavours.

Try this paneer jalfrezi curry.

9. Poached eggs

Indian chickpeas with poached eggs

Eggs are nourishing and nutrient-dense. They're also a valuable source of a nutrient that gets very little attention: choline. Needed in higher amounts during pregnancy, choline is key for your baby’s continued brain development. In this delicious recipe we’ve lightly cooked the vegetables, making them easier to digest, and finished the dish with nutritious poached eggs.

Try this delicious way to enjoy poached eggs.

10. Fruit-infused water

Three bottles of water with fruit infused

It's important to stay hydrated. Mums who are breastfeeding should drink around 10-12 glasses a day, compared to the recommended 8 glasses for adults. Water is a good choice, and a glass of fruit-infused water makes a tasty, creative option if you don't enjoy plain water.

You can also increase your fluid intake by having milk or plant-based milk alternatives. Decaffeinated tea and coffee, and 100% fruit juice (but not more than one 150ml glass per day) also count towards fluid intake.

Try these easy fruit-infused water ideas.

A healthy, varied diet should provide all the vitamins and minerals you and your baby need for breastfeeding. However, it can sometimes be difficult to get enough vitamin D (which helps with the absorption of calcium to keep your bones healthy), especially during the winter months. All breastfeeding mothers are advised to consider taking a supplement of 10mg vitamin D each day.

Small amounts of what you're eating and drinking can pass to your baby through your breast milk. If you think your diet is affecting your baby and they're unsettled, please speak to your doctor, health visitor or dietitian for tailored advice. If you need more advice regarding your diet to ensure you are getting the right nutrients, speak to your dietitian.

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If you think your diet is affecting your baby because they're unsettled, refer to your GP, health visitor or dietitian for guidance. If you need more advice regarding your diet, ask your GP for a referral to a registered dietitian.

Tai Ibitoye is a registered dietitian and a doctoral researcher in food & nutritional sciences. Tai has experience working in different sectors such as in the NHS, public health, non-government organisations and academia.


All health content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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