Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding for newborn babies — And Ones That Are Safe
First things first, congratulations on becoming a mother! As exciting and fulfilling the journey is, there are many things to consider and take care of.
We get it, you just stopped worrying about everything you drank and ate for nine months. But now that you're breastfeeding, you must continue your strict dietary habits for a little longer.
Breastfeeding moms need to eat regularly to get the necessary nutrients and produce more breast milk. You want to give your baby the best nutrition possible while avoiding foods that could harm them.
While the list is not as long as you think, there are certain foods that you CAN, and CANNOT eat while breastfeeding your newborn. Make sure to eat healthy meals regularly and avoid foods that can harm your baby.
Self-care tips for breastfeeding mothers
As a breastfeeding mother, you need to understand the importance of self-care like no one else!
Here are some tips to keep you healthy and happy during your breastfeeding journey
- For all the new moms out there, this is not the time to worry about your weight or restrict your diet!
Breastfeeding mothers require an extra 450–500 calories daily. Concentrate on giving your body nutritious foods and keeping wholesome, healthy snacks close to where you nurse.
- Instead of pushing yourself to achieve ambitious fitness goals, look for practical and sustainable exercises that you love and make you feel good.
It can be as simple as taking a walk in the park or a light at-home workout in your room.
- Your breastfeeding experience might be significantly affected by your nursing clothes! Look for soft and comfy clothes at all times.
Contrary to popular misconception, nursing attire doesn't have to be plain or unpleasant. There are so many brands that sell nursing clothes that are incredibly soft, supportive, and fashionable.
- Even though breastfeeding can be extremely gratifying, it can also include concerns and setbacks. Build a support system to turn to for advice and assistance.
It can be your partner, your mother, your sister, a good friend, your therapist or even a local support group of breastfeeding mothers.
Foods you should avoid while breastfeeding
While you don't have to avoid fish altogether, you do need to be picky about the kinds of fish you eat. Some types of fish have high-mercury levels, which can contaminate your milk supply and pose serious threats to your baby.
Choose fishes with less mercury, like salmon, tilapia, and trout. Swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish contain high levels of mercury and should be avoided.
Drinking coffee and other caffeinated beverages in moderation is considered safe during breastfeeding.
However, if you notice that your baby is fussier or irritable when you consume too much caffeine (typically more than five caffeinated beverages per day), you might want to cut back on your intake or delay reintroducing coffee until your baby is older.
You might know this already, but alcohol consumption is not advisable for breastfeeding mothers. However, if you do decide to drink, make sure to consume small amounts of alcohol and wait till it gets cleared from your body.
Alcohol will take 1-2 hours to dissolve. It does not remain in your breast milk for any longer than it does in the bloodstream, so you can start nursing as soon as you feel entirely sober.
4. Parsley, Sage, and Peppermint
Yes, these herbs are great flavour additions to your meals. But unfortunately, some herbs may impact the amount of milk your body produces.
For example, consuming a lot of parsley may reduce lactation. Additionally, taking too much sage or peppermint may cause your milk production to decrease.
However, you would need to consume these herbs in larger quantities for them to affect your milk production and supply.
Don't worry, you don't have to cut out chocolate completely, but you should be aware that it contains caffeine.
A few chocolate treats or a piece of chocolate cake are acceptable. But if you consume a lot of chocolate, the theobromine (a stimulant) from it can have a similar effect on your baby as caffeine does.
So, what foods are allowed?
Now that you know what foods to stay away from, here’s a list of foods that are perfectly okay to consume!
- Garlic: Yes, contrary to much debate, garlic is absolutely fine to consume by breastfeeding mothers.
Researchers Julie Mennella and Gary Beauchamp carried out a trial in the early 1990s where breastfeeding moms were given a garlic pill while others received a placebo. The babies drank more garlic-scented milk for a longer duration than milk without garlic.
- Citrus fruits: Yes, most breastfeeding mothers have no issues with eating citrus fruits. Citrus fruits, rich in vitamin C, are excellent for nursing mothers as a snack or as part of a meal.
If you believe your baby is having a bad reaction to a food you've eaten, it's always a good idea to speak with a lactation consultant.
- Green leafy vegetables: Green leafy veggies contain phytoestrogens, which have been shown to impact milk production positively.
These veggies, including broccoli and cabbage, might make mothers concerned that they can make babies fussy and bloated. However, this is not true.
- Seeds: Seeds are rich in protein, healthy fats, and vital minerals including iron, zinc, and calcium.
Although seeds lack clinical evidence that they are lactogenic, breastfeeding parents have long utilised them because of their high vitamin and mineral content.
Benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby
Did you know that breastfeeding is not just healthy for babies but also for the mother? That’s right, breastfeeding does not just help in improving your baby’s physical and mental health, but also protects the mother’s health.
Breastfeeding benefits for the baby
- Breast milk provides nutrition to the baby: For the first six months of a baby's life, breast milk provides everything they need in the ideal ratios. Particularly throughout the first month of life, its composition even changes based on the baby's needs.
- Protection against allergies: Breastfeeding your child may be especially beneficial if allergies or eczema run in your family.
- Breast milk helps in healthy weight gain: Breastfeeding helps prevent childhood obesity and encourages healthy weight gain. Infants who are breastfed have higher levels of good gut bacteria, which may have an impact on how fat is stored.
Breastfeeding benefits for the mother
- Helps you lose pregnancy weight: Lactating parents typically have an easier time losing pregnancy weight in a healthy way, as producing milk burns between 300-500 calories a day.
- Breastfeeding mothers have lower chances of depression: PPD (or postpartum depression) is a common condition in mothers soon after childbirth. Breastfeeding mothers appear to have a lower risk of postpartum depression.
- Protects you against ovarian and breast cancer and other diseases: According to studies, women who breastfed had a lower lifetime risk of developing certain cancers. The frequency of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis has also been linked to breastfeeding.
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When you consume anything that may be suspicious, always keep an eye out for responses from your infant and consult your paediatrician if you have any concerns.
Some mothers cut out every trigger food and then reintroduce it one at a time. Slowly reintroducing foods allows for identifying problematic foods based on the baby's reactions. You can follow this, too, if you are unsure what works and doesn't.