So, you had to avoid certain foods for nine months during pregnancy and now your little bundle of joy has come, and you are wondering if there are foods to avoid when breastfeeding. In this article I will dive into the 21 most common questions that moms have about their breastfeeding diet including what foods are good to eat while nursing, what not to eat when breastfeeding to avoid gas and how much water do, I need to drink. The good news is according to experts there are not many foods that you need to completely avoid while nursing, moderation is key as with anything in life. Read on to find out what foods you should limit in your diet.
This post may contain affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase using my link, I make a small commission –at no cost to you. Read the full disclosure here.
You have been sober for nine months and would love to just have a glass of wine. (or was that just me?) Is that ok? Yes, it is ok to have one glass of wine or beer occasionally. The best method is to wait until after you nurse to have a drink. More than one drink increases your blood alcohol level to a point that it gets in your milk. It takes approximately 2-3 hours for one drink to pass out of your milk. Some moms take an extra precaution by pumping milk ahead of time so they can feed their baby via bottle if they need to. There is no need to pump and dump unless you are full and it’s still not time to feed. This is because as your blood alcohol level drops in your body the alcohol leaves the milk. If you have a stronger drink or more than one drink it will take a lot longer for the alcohol to leave your milk.
Alcohol Strips- If you are unsure or would like to take extra precautions, they make alcohol strips where you can measure the amount of alcohol in your milk to ensure that it safe for your baby to consume.
The good news is you don’t have to completely stop drinking your morning coffee or tea. It is ok in moderation. Experts recommend no more than 3 cups per day. It is best to enjoy your coffee or tea after nursing. If you drink too much caffeine before nursing, it could affect your baby’s sleep. All babies are different but if you notice on the days you have an extra cup of coffee your baby cannot sleep then cut back on that extra cup.
More good news, though chocolate does have some caffeine it should not be enough to affect your baby’s sleep, so you do not need to cut it out of your diet. That is right I said there is no need to avoid chocolate while nursing. (your welcome)
All fish contain some mercury. Mercury contains a neurotoxin this means that it can affect a developing brain. For most types of fish, the benefits, high protein and low fat outweigh the risks. There are certain fish that are labeled foods to avoid while breastfeeding according to the AAP. These fish are shark, swordfish, tile fish and king mackerel. These fish should be avoided because of the high amounts of mercury in them. For other types of fish with low mercury levels you can have up to 12 oz of fish per week or about 2 meals per week.
Yes, peppermint is known to reduce your milk supply. This does not mean that you need to avoid it altogether or stop brushing your teeth just don’t consume it in large amounts. If you notice reduced milk supply associated with your twice a day candy canes habit, then you might want to cut back. No but seriously, the best advice is just to be aware that it can affect your milk supply so that if your supply is reduced and you have had peppermint then you will want to cut it out of your diet. Also be aware that it can enter your blood stream in other ways too such as if you lather yourself with peppermint body oils.
These two herbs have also been shown to reduce your milk supply. It will likely only happen if you consume these herbs in large amounts. This does not mean that you need to avoid cooking with them altogether. I would recommend not consuming a plate of parsley or sage and you should be just fine.
Many moms recommend to avoid garlic while breastfeeding. But there is no evidence that it is a food that you need to avoid. Your baby will definitely taste the garlic in your breastmilk and some babies will like it, and some will not. If you were consuming garlicy foods while pregnant then your baby will most likely be accustomed to the flavor and will not have a problem with your plate of creamy garlic fettucine. But if you did not consume very much while pregnant and suddenly introduce a lot of garlic in your diet you baby may not like it. There is no need to avoid it unless you see a strong correlation of you eating garlic and your baby refusing your milk.
If you love spicy foods don’t worry there is no evidence that you need to avoid these foods while breastfeeding. Like I said about garlic, if you ate these types of very spicy foods while pregnant then your baby may be accustomed to the taste. While pregnant your baby was sharing all of your food. If you avoided spicy foods while pregnant and are now introducing them or just have an out of the ordinary very spicy meal and your baby rejects your milk, then the spicy food may be the cause.
Food sensitivities differ for each baby. Everything you eat will make its way into your milk and then into your baby’s digestive system and can irritate your baby’s stomach. The symptoms of a food sensitivity may not be showing until 12-24 hours after eating. These are specific for each child. Some of the most common foods that cause food sensitivities are dairy, gluten, eggs, certain types of nuts such as tree nuts and peanuts, citrus, fish and soy.
If you think your baby has a food sensitivity see your pediatrician and speak with them about your concerns so they can make sure the symptoms are not related to something else. If the symptoms are related to foods, then you can eliminate the food that you suspect is the culprit. It can take 2-3 weeks before the symptoms are no longer present.
According to healthychildren.org allergic reactions from breastmilk are very rare. Only 2 or 3 out of every one hundred babies have an allergic reaction to breastmilk. The most common is cow milk in a mother’s diet.
Some of the symptoms of allergic reactions found in babies are severe colic, skin rash such as eczema or hives, vomiting, severe diarrhea (often with blood in stool) abdominal discomfort or difficulty breathing that can last for several hours after breastfeeding. If you notice any of these symptoms contact your pediatrician right away. This information was found on healthychildren.org.
Breastmilk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off bacteria and viruses. It has been shown that breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months has been shown to reduce the risk of food allergies eczema, ear infections, respiratory illnesses and diarrhea. If you have made the choice to breastfeed give yourself a pat on the back, you are helping your baby get a healthy start to life.
Many mothers recommend avoiding foods that make them gassy such as cabbage, broccoli, onion, cauliflower, cucumber and peppers. But these will not necessarily make your baby gassy and there is no evidence that these need to be avoided. Just make note when you eat these types of foods to see if they affect your baby. All babies are different.
Milk is rarely a problem and does not need to be avoided unless you see a correlation of you drinking milk and your baby having a reaction. If your baby seems to have skin problems, trouble breathing or any other symptoms after you drink milk then consult your pediatrician right away because your baby may have a dairy allergy.
Many mothers are curious what specific foods they should be eating while nursing. The key is to try to eat a variety of healthy nutrient rich foods. But, don’t be too hard on yourself and remember that there are no specific foods that you need to be eating. A perfect diet is not necessary to produce good quality milk. Though eating a healthy diet is good for you and boosts your energy and your ability to fight off illness. Your baby will still get all the health benefits from your milk even if your diet consists of donuts and Taco Bell.
You don’t have to eat more since you are nursing. Just eat to hunger. Your fat stored during pregnancy at your baby’s birth provides a lot of the fuel that your body needs to nurse. Studies have shown that your metabolism is more efficient while nursing and your body will let you know with hunger cues if you need to be eating more.
If you are a vegan or vegetarian, make sure you are getting enough B12. B12 is an important part of your diet. If you are a vegetarian be sure to eat foods that have B12 such as eggs or dairy. If you are a vegan be sure to take B12 supplements. If you are vegan or vegetarian and are concerned with your B12 intake talk with your doctor about it, she may have some foods or supplements that she recommends.
It is important to drink water while nursing not only because your body is producing milk but also because your body is recovering from birth. But you don’t have to be constantly guzzling gallons of water to keep hydrated. Just keep a water bottle with you and drink when you are thirsty. Experts suggest you drink ½ to ¾ of an ounce of water per pound of your weight while nursing. A good rule of thumb is if your urine is dark then you need to increase your water intake.
A fussy baby is not necessarily related to your breastmilk. Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to correlate your fussy baby with your diet because the truth is that your diet is not usually the cause. It can be a million different causes. The truth is for me there were many times that I could never figure out why my baby was being fussy. That was one of my biggest frustrations as a new mom. Sometimes my baby would just cry and cry, but they will eventually settle down. If you have concerns that your baby is extra fussy discuss this with your pediatrician, it could be another cause such as colic.
So, you set out to find out what not to eat when breastfeeding and from this post you now know that there are not many foods that you need to completely avoid while nursing. But you do need to watch your intake on certain foods such as caffeine and alcohol. As for food sensitivities every baby is different so take note if you notice a certain reaction from your baby that you think is correlated with a food that you are eating. If the problem is severe seek help right away. Even if it is not severe but you think that your baby may be sensitive to a certain type of food in your milk supply talk to your baby’s pediatrician about it. I hope that this post helped to answer some of your questions about breastfeeding and took some pressure off you to have the perfect diet. Remember you are giving your baby a healthy start in life with your breastmilk even if you don’t have a perfect diet.
This is general information and does not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Contact your pediatrician for specific questions about your baby’s health and diet.