Nutrition Issues During Lactation

  • Deborah L. O’Connor
  • Susan Trang
  • Yen-Ming ChanEmail author
Part of the Nutrition and Health book series (NH)


Breastfeeding is the normal and unequalled method of feeding infants. The World Health Organization recommends human milk as the exclusive nutrient source for the first 6 months of life, with introduction of solids at this time, and continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond. It will come as a surprise to many readers that the energy and nutrient needs of lactating women adhering to these optimal infant feeding guidelines will exceed those of pregnancy. However, like during pregnancy, the elevated nutritional requirements can be met by consuming an extra two to three servings of nutrient-dense foods. Early postpartum, many women are anxious to return to their prepregnancy body size. Indeed, postpartum weight retention is a significant contributor to the risk of obesity and associated adverse health outcomes. For many, weight management will be difficult, given personal circumstances and multiple demands on their time. Given the elevated nutrient requirements of lactation, to achieve prepregnancy weight or a healthy body weight, women will need to plan meals with care to maximize nutrient intake while limiting energy-dense foods. The purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview of the energy demands of lactation, as well as a select list of nutrients known to sometimes be provided in short supply for reproductive-age women from developed countries. The specific nutrients examined include calcium, vitamin D, folate, vitamin B12, and iron. As energy balance is a current area of concern for many lactating women and their health care providers, we will also review the literature in relation to dieting and exercise during lactation. Finally, we also include a discussion about long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs), variability in breast milk content, and the implications of maternal LC-PUFAs supplementation on infant outcomes.


Breastfeeding Lactation Postpartum Nursing LC-PUFAs 



The authors wish to acknowledge the expert assistance of Aneta Plaga in helping consolidate the written work of the three authors and in manuscript preparation.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deborah L. O’Connor
    • 1
  • Susan Trang
    • 1
  • Yen-Ming Chan
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Nutritional Sciences, The Hospital for Sick ChildrenUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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