On one of your very first prenatal appointments, your doctor probably handed you a list of all of the foods and drinks that weren’t safe to consume while you were pregnant. Now that your little one is here, you can loosen up a little bit about what you have for dinner. Though restraints have recently eased up on what breastfeeding moms should and shouldn’t eat, there are still some foods that you should avoid and others that you should take care with when eating and drinking.
Foods and Drinks to Avoid While Breastfeeding
Fish are a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids and are okay to eat in moderation during breastfeeding. Certain types of fish, such as swordfish and king mackerel, have high levels of mercury. This mercury can make its way into your breast milk and can harm your little one. Because of this, it’s best to eat no more than six ounces of fish twice a week.
If you do choose to eat fish, select a type of fish that is lower in mercury whenever possible, such as tilapia, salmon and trout. During pregnancy, sushi was strictly off-limits due to the possibility of bacteria and parasites. This possesses less of a concern during breastfeeding, so it’s okay to eat sushi once in awhile as long as it comes from a reputable restaurant.
Coffee and Tea
After several middle-of-the-night nursing sessions, the first thing you may want in the morning is a comforting cup of coffee. While it’s not strictly off-limits, be careful before you drink it. The caffeine in coffee and tea does end up in breast milk, which can make napping difficult for both you and your little one. Your baby’s body doesn’t process caffeine as quickly as yours does, and consuming it can quickly throw off their sleep schedule.
It’s safest for your baby if you don’t have any alcohol at all but if you choose to drink, timing and moderation are key. Alcohol typically takes one to two hours to metabolize. Once it’s out of your bloodstream, it’s no longer in your breast milk. If you are going to drink, have one drink right after you last nurse your little one. This will give your body time to metabolize the alcohol so that it doesn’t adversely affect your baby when you nurse next. “Pumping and dumping” isn’t necessary as long as you don’t feel the effects of the alcohol you drank.
Not only can the caffeine in chocolate cause problems with your little one’s sleep, it seems to have a laxative effect on many babies. Eat it in moderation and be on the lookout to see if it’s disrupting your little one’s sleep schedule or causing runny stools to occur.
Parsley, Peppermint and Sage
While these herbs are a great way to add flavor to your meals, they can also have a negative effect on your milk supply. Consume them in moderation and skip them altogether if you notice that your little one is on a growth spurt.
Your breast milk will take on the flavor of the food that you have eaten, and studies show that babies typically enjoy this wide-range of flavors. Garlic, however, is one flavor that many babies don’t enjoy. If your baby is refusing the breast and you have recently eaten garlic, it may be the taste that is turning him or her off.
Foods that typically cause gas with you, such as beans, brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, can cause problems in your little one. While burping, passing gas and bloating may occur in all babies after you eat these foods, it can cause a baby who already has colic to become downright miserable.
Medicines to Avoid While Breastfeeding
Though a small amount of most medications does make its way into your breast milk, most medications can be safely taken while breastfeeding. Some medications to avoid include:
- Antihistamine and decongestant combinations, such as Dimetapp
- Thiazide diuretics
How to Tell if a Food is Bothering Your Baby
Because everything you eat could possibly cause an adverse reaction in your little one, it’s important to look for possible problems. These reactions include:
- Eczema, a red, itchy rash on the body
- Abnormal fussiness
- Excessive gas
These symptoms could be caused by another condition, such as an allergy to the laundry soap that you use, or it could be caused by something that you are eating that has made its way into your breast milk. Most problems that are caused by breast milk typically occur two to six hours after you have consumed the food. Common foods that can sometimes cause an adverse reaction in babies include:
- Dairy products
- Spicy foods
- Citrus fruits and juices
If you suspect that your baby is having a reaction to something that you are eating, talk with your doctor before completely omitting it from your diet. If your doctor does recommend that you stop eating that food, ask about supplements to make up for any nutrients you may be missing out on and continue to take your prenatal vitamins for the duration of the time that you nurse.