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Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding: A Practical Guide for New Moms

Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding: A Practical Guide for New Moms

Which foods to avoid while breastfeeding to keep your baby healthy?

If you’re breastfeeding, what you eat passes on to your baby through your breast milk, and much like you had to eat healthy during your pregnancy, you’ll still need to avoid some foods that may be harmful to your baby.

Consider that your breast milk will be mostly constituted with your blood, so you don’t have to worry about it being nutritive if you’re having a balanced diet.

However, there are some foods that can easily digest into your bloodstream and pass straight to your breast milk, and could potentially harm your baby or your breast milk supply.

Much like when you were pregnant, watching your diet pays off!

If you’re wondering about these foods you need to avoid when pregnant, you can check out this article.

Without further ado, let’s talk about the foods to avoid while breastfeeding.

#1 Alcohol

Alcohol is one of the foods to avoid while breastfeeding since it can go into your breast milk easily and could harm your baby.

You probably saw this one coming, right?

The occasional beer won’t hurt your baby, but you need to moderate your intake of alcohol while you’re breastfeeding.

If you do have a weekly glass of wine, wait for at least two hours before breastfeeding your baby to make some time for the alcohol to get out of your bloodstream.

Some people say that drinking alcohol can boost your breast milk supply, but there is no proven information that it does.

On the contrary, some studies have shown that drinking alcohol lowers your oxytocin levels, thus lowering your breast milk supply.

#2 Caffeine

Limit your caffeine intake while breastfeeding to avoid harming your baby.

A little bit of caffeine isn’t harmful to your baby, but you need to consume it in moderation.

As a general rule of thumb, you can have one 8oz cup of coffee per day if you really need it.

If your baby is extra fussy and gassy, and won’t sleep easily, it may be a reaction to the caffeine passing through her bloodstream.

In fact, most premature babies are treated with caffeine to keep them alert so that they can remember to breathe on their own.

#3 Peppermint, Sage, Cabagges and Parsley

Peppermint could dry your supply, so consume it only if you're weaning your baby.

These have a negative effect in your breast milk supply.

Again, as with caffeine, the occasional intake is perfectly fine, but eating vast amounts could cause an incremental drop in your breast milk supply.

Some moms have reported that peppermint, sage, and cabbage lower their breast milk supply.

So if you’re looking to wean your baby, these are good choices to include in your diet!

Additionally, parsley is highly diuretic, and in order to produce sufficient breast milk you need to be well hydrated, so if you do eat diuretic food you have to increase your water intake to maintain your body’s hydration levels high!

#4 Orange and Citrus

Citrus can upset some babies' tummies, so consider it one of the foods to avoid while breastfeeidng if your baby is particularly sensitive.

In most cases, orange and citrus fruits won’t affect babies’ tummys

However, I do include it in my list because it did affect our baby.

Some babies are especially sensitive to the citrus that passes through breast milk.

If your baby is premature or is colicky, she may be even fussier after breastfeeding if you had an orange juice in the morning. I can vouch for that!

#5 Chocolate

Chocolate can have an overstimulating effect in your baby's system, much like caffeine, so limit your chocolate intake if you're nursing a newborn baby

As it happens with caffeine, chocolate can be overstimulating to babies and their digestive systems.

Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine, which is highly stimulating.

Eating or drinking small amounts of chocolate probably won’t have any negative effects on your baby. So don’t worry!

However, if you eat chocolate in large amounts your baby could be irritable, fussy, or even allergic.

Additionally, the darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains since it also has more cocoa.

#6 Dairy

Dairy is not an immediate concern when breastfeeding a newborn baby, but it has been linked to more colic and gas. Aditionally, if your baby is sensitive, you should pay attention to any symptoms of cow's milk allergies.

Although dairy is not an immediate concern to your baby’s health and you can include it in your diet, it is the culprit of the most common of baby allergies and has been linked to fussiness and gas in babies.

If your baby is extra fussy, has eczema, seems to have baby colic, or passes stool with mucus or blood, then dairy might be the cause!

Eliminating dairy is a first step to identifying and solving baby allergies, even food with traces of milk can contain cow’s milk protein, which passes to your baby through breastmilk.

Don’t worry, though, if your baby does have allergies, they are probably not permanent and will resolve themselves after a few months.

You can read more about cow’s milk intolerance in babies in this article.

#7 High-Mercury Fish

Fish is generally safe for breastfeeding, but avoid high-mercury fish and seafood for your baby's health.

Fish has many benefits for breastfeeding moms, they have high levels of fatty omega-3 acids which is critical for your baby’s cognitive development.

So you don’t need to cut fish altogether from your diet, you just need to avoid those high on mercury such as mackerel, swordfish, or shark.

Allergies when Breastfeeding

Most of the foods to avoid while breastfeeding must be avoided to prevent breast milk allergies in infants.

The biggest issue with your nutrition as a breastfeeding mom is the potential baby allergies your baby may have.

If you suspect your baby has a food allergy, consult your pediatrician as soon as possible.

Symptoms of Breast Milk Allergies

Make sure to be aware of the symptoms to breast milk allergies to make sure your baby is safe and comfortable.

If your baby seems allergic to your breast milk, you can start an elimination diet while her digestive system matures.

Your baby could have a milk allergy if she:

  • Seems gassier and fussier than usual and doesn’t seem to calm down after burping her.
  • Has reflux or spits ups large amounts of breast milk.
  • Has eczema.
  • Passes stools with mucus and/or blood.
  • Has abdominal pain or colic, tenses her tummy and cries as though in pain.

A word on baby colic, although it may seem like your baby is colicky if she has a milk allergy, baby colic is more complex and the precise cause is not known yet.

If you want to know more about baby colic, check out this article.

What to do if Your Baby Has Allergies?

If your baby has breast milk allergies, trying an elimination diet while breastfeeding is a good technique to help her overcome them.

If your baby has breast milk allergies, you should coordinate with your pediatrician and nutritionist and start an elimination diet.

You can start eliminating one allergen at a time for a couple of weeks, and then incorporate it again after a few months.

I won’t’ lie, following an elimination diet is not especially easy, I had to eliminate most of my diet when I was breastfeeding my son.

Another factor of concern with elimination diets is your own nutrition, make sure you are closely monitored by your nutritionist while you follow the elimination diet and take a dietary supplement if you need it.

When I had my son, his milk allergies were so severe that I only ate chicken, rice, and avocado for a couple of months.

I was carefully controlled by a nutritionist and took a nutritional supplement to make sure that we weren’t in any danger.

We never pinpointed what exactly was causing my son’s allergies, but after a few months, I started introducing one food at a time in my diet.

A few months after your baby’s allergies have disappeared, start introducing food back into your diet, one allergen at a time.

In most cases, your baby’s digestive system will be mature enough to process what it couldn’t process before.

That’s a Wrap

As long as you follow a balanced diet and don’t overdo it with alcohol, caffeine, and chocolate, you should be perfectly fine!

If you're breastfeeding your new baby, you might want to limit or avoid these 7 foods that could potentially hurt her. Here are the 7 foods to avoid while breastfeeding!

Nutrition while breastfeeding boils down to common sense, although you should always keep an eye on your baby’s reaction to your breast milk.

Limit your intake parsley, cabbages, peppermint, sage, citrus, dairy, and high-mercury fish.

What are your experiences with breastfeeding nutrition? Do you have any questions of babby allergies? Let me know all about it in the comments.

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Friday 22nd of May 2020

My baby had bad reflux in her first three months but I really love dairy so I wasn't willing to cut it off completely so I reduced my intake and she did just fine. I actually didn't know about cabbage and parsley affecting milk supply. Now that I think of it, I have heard people using cabbage leaves when they are trying to stop breastfeeding but didn't think much of it so it probably makes sense. I like learning new things for myself and sharing them with other moms so thank you for sharing.