Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding

By: Shari Criso MSN, RN, CNM, IBCLC Monday, 13 May 2019 05:00 PM Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding

Just like so many other aspects of parenting, whether we ask for it or not we tend to receive a lot of conflicting advice out there about foods we should and should not eat while breastfeeding. Fortunately, almost all of the limitations and restrictions we hear about are simply untrue!

For most moms and babies, there is no need to change a normal diet simply because of breastfeeding.

The truth is that the wide range of flavors in the foods you prefer to eat will transfer to your baby through amniotic fluid while pregnant and through breast milk while breastfeeding. This “sharing” of flavors will actually teach your baby to recognize your cultural and personal preferences, as well as help them to identify safe foods to choose once they are ready to feed themselves.

A good diet, one filled with plenty of fresh foods (and treats in moderation), will fuel your body and help you feel good. Your body will use its reserves to make perfect milk for your baby no matter what you eat, just as it did when you were pregnant. A low quality diet may leave you feeling depleted but doesn’t decrease the quality of your milk. In fact, studies of breast milk composition in malnourished mothers show that their milk is equal in quality to mothers with high quality nutrition.

This is nature’s way of supporting you in providing everything you need for your baby!

Some foods get a bad reputation for bothering a baby via breast milk including cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes, onions, strong spices, and even chocolate. While the foods you consume are used to produce your breast milk, it isn’t simply made with the pureed contents of your last meal! Your body breaks down fats, protein, calcium and all the other nutrients that it needs in the perfect amounts to create your breast milk. Your food has undergone quite a transformation by the time it reaches the baby as milk.

Fussiness and gassiness can be normal in a newborn, or related to something like tethered oral tissue, and are unlikely to be caused by something in your diet.

It’s estimated that a small number of babies (less than 5%) react to a food their mother eats. Protein, not lactose, from cow’s milk is the most common cause of reactions like fussiness, gas, and bowel irritation. It’s a food meant to be digested by baby cows, not human babies, and can be hard to digest for babies and adults alike. Since it is the protein and not the lactose that is almost always the problem, drinking lactose free milk will not help. The only real solution for this reaction is to remove cow’s milk from your diet.

Herbs and spices are safe in moderation, but a few can impact milk supply when consumed in excess. Avoid very large quantities of sage, peppermint, parsley, and oregano. In moderation — a cup of herbal tea or a salad with fresh herbs — these foods are fine. Similarly, caffeine and alcohol intake can be safe with limited and responsible use.

Almost all mothers can eat to meet hunger and drink to thirst with no need to avoid specific foods. A varied and nutrient-dense will certainly give you more energy to parent with patience and wether the long nights! But remember that your breast milk quality will not decrease on those busy days where fast food and one-handed quick eats feel like the only option.

My Baby Experts ©

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