10 Foods to Avoid while Breastfeeding

Why Breastfeeding is Important

Breast or bottle? For those who choose breastfeeding, the benefits for both mother and child are numerous. Bonding, perfect nutrition for the infant, and helping to prevent breast cancer in mother and infant – these are just some of the benefits that come with nursing.

But extra care should taken when creating a diet for yourself as you breastfeed, to ensure the best for both yourself and your baby. Your milk is what you eat – there are some foods that should be avoided while breastfeeding, as often what you eat gets transferred directly to your baby via your breast milk.

Here are 10 foods that breastfeeding mothers should be careful in consuming:

1. Any foods containing caffeine
When consuming caffeine, these chemicals can cause sleeplessness in your infant, which in turn can cause crankiness and other kinds of sleep disorders. Because of its potency, caffeine isn’t secreted out of the digestive system. Caffeine also causes intestinal irritation, since an infant’s digestive system isn’t fully developed yet. If you must consume caffeinated products, make sure there’s ample time to allow your body to process it out of your system (about 6 hours).

2. Peppermint or Parsley
Any kind of food that contains mint can potentially reduce milk supply.  This includes herbal remedies or herbal tea which contain mint.  Large amounts of consumption can greatly affect milk secretion, which wouldn’t be great during a period of growth spurt for your baby. One or two peppermint drops should be fine, if you must have mint candy, but no more than that.

3. Gas-inducing vegetables
Gas in full grown adults can be painful; gas in a growing baby can be damaging. Bloating and other kinds of stomach disorders can result if a breastfeeding mother ingests veggies such as cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, beans, and other types of lentils. This could be true for your baby even if you don’t have any gas symptoms.

4. Citric fruits
The kinds of acids that are present in citrus foods such as oranges, lemons and grapefruit can irritate a baby’s stomach, cause spillage and result in diaper rash and crankiness. If you still need a source of vitamin C, mango and papaya are excellent and non-sour substitutes for citric fruits.

5. Large fish and Shellfish
Big, wild caught salmon and tuna should be avoided since there is a risk that they could contain trace amounts of mercury. Mercury poisoning not only causes birth defects, it can result in brain damage in an infant’s developing nervous system. This includes sushi for mothers who are breastfeeding.  Also, women who are allergic to shellfish such as mussels, shrimp or lobster (or have family members with a shellfish allergy) should avoid it. Even if you are not allergic to shellfish, that doesn’t not mean that your baby isn’t.

10 Foods to Avoid while Breastfeeding

6. Spicy foods
Spicy foods like salsa, peppers and hot sauces are a sure way to induce crankiness and fussiness in infants while breastfeeding.

7. Garlic
Although most people love garlic, a baby’s palate hasn’t developed enough for them to appreciate complex flavors. Mothers consuming garlic may encounter finicky eaters or babies who refuse to breastfeed if they smell garlic in the milk, which could lead to malnutrition if this occurs often.

8. Certain Dairy Products
Lactose is a difficult enzyme for babies to digest even while breastfeeding. If your baby starts to experience vomiting, colic symptoms, an upset stomach, sleeplessness, or eczema, you may want to decrease your cheese, milk or yogurt intake.

9. Chocolate
Chocolate of course contains caffeine, the negative side effects of which have already been described. But did you know that chocolate can also act as a laxative in infants whose digestive systems are still developing?  Mothers who are also chocoholics should cut down on Hershey bars, or at least wait to leave enough time for your body to process it before feeds.

10. Alcohol
Most people already know about alcohol and its negative effects on brain development.  Alcohol in milk secretions can make a baby groggy, drowsy and sleep deeper than normal. Mothers should not consume more than two alcoholic drinks at a time while breastfeeding. Though you can “pump and dump” before feeding (pumping some milk and discarding it if you have been drinking no more than two drinks) – but making a habit out of this is not recommended!

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