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Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding

We, women, can do anything for our baby. Giving the baby what it needs, becomes the only goal of a mother. In this journey, we tend to overlook our own health. We need to take care of what we eat or not, for the baby.

In this article on foods to avoid while breastfeeding, we will discuss what we shouldn’t eat. Stick with us to learn more about this topic.

Breastfeeding – The Best Moment in Women’s Life:

Motherhood is a blessing as well as a tough job for most mothers. The nine months and more journey of pain and discomfort, still women won’t skip a beat to do it. Breastfeeding can be quite a challenge, particularly during the first five to six weeks. The period is called the puerperium.

breastfeeding baby

image credit: stock.adobe.com

Many new parents and caregivers feel so overwhelmed that they tend to neglect their eating. Others may worry about foods to eat or avoid while breastfeeding, and it is an obvious issue.  Making time for your own means shortening time away from your little one. Oh, what a dilemma!

The health of a baby solely depends on the health of the mother. So, caring for yourself is caring for your baby. No need to feel guilty about that. Proper diet and lifestyle ensure enough energy and emotional support you need for the baby. Always try to eat good foods. While breastfeeding newborn, always practice feed on-demand, so necessary nutrition is ensured.

Why to Cautious About Your Foods While Breastfeeding?

Before adding or subtracting any food from your breastfeeding diet, ask yourself first. Are these foods ok to eat while breastfeeding? Your breast milk carries the flavor and nutrition of everything you eat. So by enjoying a varied breastfeeding diet and exposing your baby to different tastes, he might end up liking those flavors later down the line. If you like spicy dishes, there’s no reason to avoid them when breastfeeding either.

Young babies are often fussy or gassy, and mums naturally wonder if this is caused by something they’ve eaten. Chances are it isn’t. Research suggests the proportion of infants who are allergic to something in their mother’s breast milk is only a little over 1%. Cow’s milk, egg, corn, or soy proteins in their mum’s diet are the most common allergy culprits, rather than the spicy foods, hot sauce, or cruciferous veg that mums sometimes worry will cause a reaction. So, choose foods that you and your child can tolerate. Avoid foods that cause problems for the baby.

Foods to Avoid During Breastfeeding:

Why we can’t eat certain foods while breastfeeding? Even id they are good for you, the same doesn’t apply to the baby. There are as some myths surrounding what you should eat when breastfeeding as there were for pregnancy. Very little of what you eat passes through your breast milk to your baby. Although, it can affect the smell and taste of the milk, and your baby might not like it.

Let’s look at the shortlist of foods you should avoid while breastfeeding newborn with the reasons:

Big fishes

Fish is an essential part of a healthy diet and should be included in your normal plans. That being said, you do need to be careful about which fish you choose. Type is more important than amounts of fishes you eat. Unfortunately, we aren’t always kind to the planet we live on. Over time, chemicals have found their way into the oceans and waterways, and these can be found in some fish.

The one chemical, in particular, concerning for us is methyl element of mercury. The rule of the sea decrees that the plankton feeds the small fish, which feeds the bigger fish and finally the huge fish. The larger the fish, the more mercury they are likely to have accumulated. So, these are the foods to avoid during breastfeeding to prevent colic of the baby.

king mackerel Fish

Mercury can pass through your milk and can affect the development of the baby’s nervous system. Fishes to avoid are swordfish, shark, and king mackerel. Albacore tuna and tilefish can be eaten in moderation, 6 ounces or less per week. You can eat some fishes safely include catfish, salmon, tilapia, and crayfish.

What about sushi made of fresh fish? Due to risks of bacterial contamination, sushi is best to be avoided in pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Alcohol

It is obviously a big no-no for any pregnant or breastfeeding mother. You may deserve the awaiting glass of red wine, but you can not drink it. Don’t worry, you don’t have to completely stop drinking. Just moderate your normal limit, that’s all.

The focus here should on the timing and amount. Research showed alcohol can pass through your breast milk to your baby, scary, right?. It takes one hour for 1 unit of alcohol or 7 mL bear equivalent, to clear out of your body. Remember, alcohol is food to avoid while breastfeeding jaundice baby!

So, to avoid alcohol intoxication of your baby, wait for about two hours after drinking. Alcohol also interferes with the letdown of milk. As a result, your baby might receive lesser breastmilk. In the past, scientists encouraged new moms to drink Guinness, a dark beer, accelerating milk production. Research proved the polysaccharide of it can produce prolactin, a hormone for milk production. Well, the FDA does not approve of this idea now.

Gassy Foods:

Okay ladies, while we don’t like to admit it, we all get gassy sometimes. Some fibrous veggies, like cabbage and broccoli, may make your baby gassy. Eating fiber-rich foods is good for our digestive health, as we can digest them. Fibers are the foods to avoid while breastfeeding a gassy baby, as they can’t digest them.

If your baby is gassy, this is more evidence of their own digestive system working properly. Breast milk provides babies with good bacteria to help them maintain general good health. It also helps them develop good gut health.

Coffee

If you are a coffee freak, we have bad news for you. You have to cut down your caffeine intake, best to avoid it altogether. This shouldn’t be on the list of foods to eat while breastfeeding. To help baby sleep limit it, two to three cups a day, a maximum of 100 mg.

Even a small amount of caffeine can make the baby alert, active, or fussy. Sleep intolerance can be a big issue. Other drinks like hot chocolate, sodas, energy drinks, and some medications, may caffeine.  There are herbal supplements, which have guarana or kola nut, that are to be avoided.

Cow Milk

The decision to include or not is still a matter of debate. Few schools of thought toward dairy products causing a milk allergy is valid. The list of dairy foods to avoid while breastfeeding is cows milk and heavy cream. Others can be eaten safely.

If you have lactose intolerance or positive family history, your baby may have it, too. further investigation should be done promptly. Dairy products are foods to avoid while breastfeeding a baby with milk allergy, look for skin eczema, and diaper rash.

Other Foods:

Some honorable mentions are cinnamon, garlic, peanut, onions, etc. You may be wondering – why avoid cinnamon while breastfeeding? Cinnamon has caused allergic reactions to some newborn babies. The exact cause is unknown.

Peanut allergy is common, on an average 17-23% of Americans have it genetically. Some believe that it may be transferred in breast milk. Unfortunately, peanut butter is one of the foods to avoid if your baby has eczema!

Editor Tip: Read CDC Guidelines For Breastfeeding Mothers here.

The Dos and Don’t For Breastfeeding Mothers:

It can quite tempting for moms to focus on feeding your baby rather than themselves. Well, you need to make sure that you’re not just fueling up on biscuits and sweets. Maintaining a plan is tough, but if don’t do it,  your body not having any favors.

A quick trick for you. Go for easy yet nutritious meals such as scrambled eggs with spinach, or chicken stir fry with brown rice. Eating grain porridge is also a brilliant idea in the morning, as it gives you a slow release of energy from the oats and soluble fiber. Surprisingly, oats is one of the best foods to eat while breastfeeding to increase milk supply.

You can eat chopped fruit and vegetables in the fridge instead of quick snacks or chips. We advise keeping a bag of unsalted nuts in your everyday bag. Easy and fast meal, even easier than trying to peel a satsuma with one hand while breastfeeding!

How to Choose The Right Foods?

A healthy breastfeeding diet is essential for both the mother and the baby. As absurd it may sound, the diet is the same as any nutritious diet when you are not breastfeeding. Your regular foods can be included. The main difference is more additional requirements. If we summarize the breastfeeding diet menu for you in a simple chart:

  • Energy requirement: Basal need+ (700-800) kcal
  • Food distribution: 55-65% from carbohydrate, 20-35% from protein and the rest from fats
  • Iron: 250 micrograms 
  • Calcium: 1000 mg
  • Vitamin A: 1 MIU
  • Vitamin D: 100 micrograms 

Preparing foods for yourself can be a hassle. Needless to say, moms have to not just for them, but also for their whole family. So, many avoid extra steps altogether and stick to what they normally eat.

Are your foods are good enough? Well, we are in the final stage. You have completed every task. How will assess your diet, whether it’s up to your needs? To assess your diet check these criteria:

  • What types of food to eat while breastfeeding, can be an important denominator of your health. Please check back the list of foods to eat or avoid in the above section.
  • The quality and quantity of foods also important. Always eat fresh foods. Divide the meals into smaller and frequent parts.
  • Timing of meals. It should correspond to your baby’s feeding schedule.
  • The health of the baby. If you are baby is healthy and growing, your diet is surely working.
  • And most importantly, your health. If you are well and free of any disease, diet is working for you.

Tip: Read Is it Okay pre-workout while breastfeeding

Best Alternatives For Breastfeeding Moms:

To be honest, there are no superfoods to eat while breastfeeding. But you can have food with various types of nutrition. The list of best foods to eat while breastfeeding is given in the following: 

Fresh Fruits

Fruits are a rich source of many nutrients. They may also help relieve constipation, which some people experience after giving birth. You should add about 2 portions of fruit per day. Mix different fruits for taste.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends the following fruits as these are great sources of potassium, and also contain vitamin A: cantaloupe, honeydew melon, banana, mangoes, apricots, prunes, oranges, and grapefruit. Is your baby is constipated after feeding? Try these foods to eat while breastfeeding to make baby poop.

Fruit Basket, Grapes, Apples, Pears

Vegetables

If you are on an exclusive breastfeeding schedule, you should include green vegetables to your diet. The milk production depends on available vitamins and minerals in your body, nonetheless, vegetables are the source. Try to eat at least 3 cups of vegetables per day that equivalent of 250 grams. If you bottle-feed your baby with breastfeeding, just add 2.5 cups or 235 grams of vegetables.

Vegetables are rich in vitamins and antioxidants. Eating a sufficient quantity will help your body to replenish the losses of pregnancy. The USDA recommended the best vegetarian foods to eat while breastfeeding is: Spinach, cooked green bean, carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, tomato, red sweet pepper, etc.

Some even say vegetables are the foods to eat while breastfeeding to avoid colic. Because they are high in cellulose and dietary fibers, making baby’s poop softer.

Grains

For proper milk production, you need to take an additional amount of carbs. Grains are a good source of complex but easily digestible sugars. Grain offers vital nutrients, especially whole grains. Foods like brown rice and pure wheat are great for you. If you are on exclusive breastfeeding, add 8 ounce or 75 grams of whole grains per day. For formula feeding, add 6 oz or 46 grams.

Grains are the foods to eat while breastfeeding to help baby sleep. Because the baby will be well-fed throughout the night. Few grains, such as quinoa, contain protein, essential for breastfeeding. Fortified cereal formula can be a good alternative. It provides added nutrients. Doctors recommend choosing the whole-grain cereals without added sugar.

Protein

Protein is the building unit of your body. To fulfill the body’s muscle and tissue loss during pregnancy, you need an extra 25 grams of protein per day and it should be 20-30 of total calories. The health experts recommended adding protein with every meal.

The USDA recommends the following sources of protein: beans and peas, nuts and seeds, lean beef, pork, lamb, oysters, crab, mussels, etc. some say proteins are foods to eat while breastfeeding to make baby gain weight rapidly.

Dairy products: 

Both pregnancy and breastfeeding can steal your precious calcium from the bones. This puts you at an increased risk of osteoporosis, a bone deforming disease.  If you do not get enough calcium and vitamin D, your baby will suffer, too. Dairy products, such as cottage cheese, butter, yogurt, etc. are excellent sources of calcium and vitamin D.

For breastfeeding moms, the requirement is a minimum of 2 glasses of dairy products each day. If you are a vegan, foods to eat while breastfeeding dairy-free are dark leafy greens, beans, and fortified orange juice. The CDC recommends at least one-quarter of your meal is dairy.

Nutritional Supplements

Your doctor may advise taking nutritional supplements while breastfeeding. In most cases, a well-balanced diet should be more than enough to serve all the nutrients that breastfeeding moms. However, nutritional demands can dramatically increase while breastfeeding, so, better to switch to a new source of nutrition.

It is important to note that any supplement can’t replace a regular diet. People who are breastfeeding should speak with their doctor before taking any herbal or dietary supplements. Those who have dietary restrictions or follow a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle must be mindful of certain vitamins and minerals deficiency. Anyone who is concerned about meeting all of their nutritional needs should speak to a dietician.

Tip: Learn More About: The Best Meal Replacement Shakes While Breastfeeding

Water

We must shed light on a thing, not every food may work for you. One thing for sure, water is your best friend. It is important to drink plenty of water, particularly in the first few weeks of puerperium. The need for fluid also increases when breastfeeding. Doctors of NSH advise drinking a minimum of 1.5 liters freshwater per day.

Breast milk consists of 85% of water. So, not drinking enough fluids can lead to dehydration and may even affect milk supply. If you are breastfeeding, remember to drink. By keeping a bottle of water in each room in the house, you can easily drink whenever you want.

Meal Tricks And Tips For Breastfeeding Mama

Tired of working with a new diet plan? We have added some easy solutions for you:

  1. Demand the assistance of your partner is a great way to share the burden. One partner can pump or breastfeed while the other prepares food.
  2. If a supportive partner is unavailable, a few easy-to-prepare meals can ensure adequate nutrition.
  3. Consuming a morning smoothie to load up on fruits and vegetables. Try blending frozen berries, a banana, and an avocado. Add more protein by adding a container of fresh yogurt.
  4. Preparing instant oatmeal as a filling, fiber-rich snack that may support a healthy supply of milk. To add more calories and increase protein content, use milk or yogurt instead of water.
  5. Try snacking on nuts during the day. You can place a jar of nuts in a favorite breastfeeding spot.
  6. Buying pre-cut cheeses. These snacks are high in protein and very filling.
  7. Considering enrolling in ready-made meal service, or asking people to bring meals around a few times a week. Freeze any leftovers to thaw for a quick snack.

Benefits of Good Nutrition For Breastfeeding Mom

Many people worry that they have to measure food portions or that missing a few nutrients will affect breastfeeding. However, people all around the world are able to produce milk with a wide variety of diets. The goal should be a well-rounded diet, not a perfect one.

Choosing the right food to eat on breastfeeding can weld the following benefits:

  1. These are safe for you and your baby
  2. These help to maintain an adequate milk production
  3. No harmful effect on the growth of the baby
  4. These supply additional nutrition
  5. These help moms to get back to their normal body shape
  6. Easily digested and absorbed in the body
  7. No or fewer side effects
  8. Good for early weaning
  9. Develop a variety of taste perception

Bottom Line

Being a mom can be tough but, you do enjoy it. We don’t hesitate to sacrifice anything for the sake of our baby. So, why not we look after what we eat? We hope that, this article on foods to avoid while breastfeeding has helped.

Good wishes to you. Thanks for reading.

The FAQs About Breastfeeding Care

Q. What things should you avoid while breastfeeding?

Answer: The foods that you avoid while breastfeeding is fishes, cow milk, peanut butter, coffee, fast foods, etc. These foods have an adverse effect on you and your baby.

Q. What foods can upset a breastfed baby?

Answer: Large sea fishes like tuna and salmon, dairy products, cinnamon, etc are the foods that can upset a breastfed baby. These can cause a wide range of health issues in babies.

Q. What foods are good for breastfeeding?

Answer: Vegetables, fruits, eggs, grains, meats, etc are good for breastfeeding. They improve the nutritional status of breast milk.

Q. What foods to avoid while breastfeeding to prevent constipation?

Answer: Avoid heavy meals and fast foods containing saturated fats. Drink plenty of water every day.

Q. What foods to avoid when breastfeeding for gas?

Answer: You should avoid foods that are rich in fibers. They often remain undigested and create gas.

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Hi, I'm Umme Hurayra. I am currently studying MBBS in Mymensingh Medical College. Medical science is an incredible thing. I like to share my knowledge with everyone.