Why am I so hungry when breastfeeding?

While breastfeeding is a wonderful way to bond with a newborn baby, the hunger that comes with it is a real problem for many. This is especially true when you are hungry but still gaining weight simultaneously.

In this article, we will explore why breastfeeding can sometimes increase hunger and provide some tips to manage the issue. Read on the find out more!


What makes you hungry when you breastfeed

1) The change in hormones

The hormonal changes that occur during breastfeeding can significantly impact hunger levels. Prolactin and oxytocin are two hormones that are particularly critical in this process.

Prolactin is a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland that is required for milk production. It is abundantly secreted during breastfeeding and can induce emotions of calm and satisfaction, which can aid in appetite suppression. On the other hand, prolactin might have the reverse effect and promote hunger in certain people.

Another hormone secreted while nursing is oxytocin. It is in charge of the let-down reflex, which causes milk to flow from the breast. Oxytocin can also increase appetite, especially in the early postpartum period.

Some breastfeeding women may feel less hungry due to prolactin’s calming and contentment-inducing effects, while others may feel hungrier due to oxytocin’s appetite-stimulating effects.

It is critical to note that these hormonal shifts are a natural component of the breastfeeding process and do not always signal a problem with milk production or supply.

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2) The increased energy needs of breastfeeding

Another reason that can give rise to hunger when breastfeeding is the increased energy requirements of lactation.

The body uses fat stores accumulated during pregnancy to power milk production, which takes a large quantity of energy.

This process may result in increased energy expenditure, resulting in sensations of hunger.

Every woman is different; some women may need more or fewer calories while breastfeeding.

3) Dehydration

Other factors may also contribute to feelings of hunger when breastfeeding. Dehydration is one of them.

Breastfeeding can cause an increase in fluid loss since the creation of breast milk necessitates more fluid consumption.

If a breastfeeding mother is not well hydrated, she may experience hunger.

It is critical for breastfeeding mothers to stay hydrated throughout the day by consuming enough baby water and other fluids.

You should aim for 8-12 glasses of water daily.

4) Inconsistent mealtime

You must also sufficiently nourish your bodies to support the energy demands of lactation and guarantee that both you and the infant receive the nutrients you require.

Pay attention to your hunger and fullness cues and ensure that you eat enough to fulfill your increased energy requirements.

If a breastfeeding woman does not consume enough calories or skips meals, she may experience hunger.

Skipping meals or not eating enough calories can also contribute to hunger while breastfeeding.

How much should a breastfeeding mother eat in a day

How much should a breastfeeding mother eat in a day?

Depending on your age, weight, height, frequency of breastfeeding, and how active you are, the actual calorie requirements of a nursing mother can vary.

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However, the average amount that every breastfeeding mother should strive for is around 450 to 500 calories per day.

You should also consume a variety of nutrient-rich meals to enhance your health and the production of high-quality breast milk for your newborns.

Monitor your total nutrient intake and increase your calorie consumption. Foods rich in nutrients that are beneficial for lactation include:

  • Lean proteins – Eg, fish, chicken, tofu, legumes, and nuts
  • Complex carbohydrates – Eg, whole grains, veggies, and fruits
  • Healthy fats – Eg, nuts, avocados, and olive oil
  • Foods high in calcium – Eg, milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Foods high in iron- Eg, meat, poultry, leafy green vegetables, and beans

How should I manage my hunger while breastfeeding

There are several strategies that breastfeeding mothers can use to manage hunger while still meeting the nutritional needs of both themselves and their babies:

Eat nutritious, filling meals and snacks:

Try to focus on ingesting nutrient-dense foods to help stave off hunger rather than empty-calorie snacks. This can include foods high in protein and fiber, such as whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

Stay hydrated:

Dehydration can cause hunger, so consuming enough water and other fluids throughout the day is critical. Drink 8 to 12 cups of fluids each day.

Plan ahead:

Have a healthy snack or meal in advance if you know you’ll be breastfeeding at a certain time to help control hunger.

Spread out feedings:

Try to breastfeed your baby more frequently and in smaller amounts rather than delaying until you are famished. This may aid in fending off hunger and limiting overeating.

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Seek assistance:

If you have trouble controlling your hunger, consider asking a doctor or a lactation consultant for help.

They may provide individualized advice and direction on how to meet your dietary demands and control hunger.

It’s critical to keep in mind that experiencing hunger when nursing is quite natural and does not always indicate an issue with milk supply or production.



In conclusion, many new mothers report feeling hungry when breastfeeding. To support the increased energy demands of lactation, it is critical for breastfeeding women to be aware of their increased energy needs and to nourish their bodies appropriately.

Breastfeeding women can try to control their hunger using various techniques while providing for their own and their infant’s nutritional needs.

These include planning and spacing out feedings, drinking plenty of water, eating wholesome, substantial meals and snacks, and enlisting the assistance of a healthcare professional or lactation consultant.

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