Foods to avoid while breastfeeding
I recommend that you avoid consuming large amounts of caffeine while breastfeeding. Most women can have one or two cups of coffee (up to 350 milligrams of caffeine) without affecting their babies. Amounts greater than this can stimulate your baby, causing irritability and wakefulness. Large doses of caffeine may also interfere with the
availability of iron from breast milk and impair your infant’s iron stores.Take a moment to review all sources of caffeine in your diet—coffee, tea, iced tea, soft drinks, chocolate and some over-the-counter medications.You’ll find a comprehensive list of foods and their caffeine content
You may find that certain foods in your diet make your newborn irritable. Foods with a strong or spicy flavor (such as garlic or curry) may alter the flavor of your breast milk, and a sudden change in the taste of your milk may annoy your baby. Some of my clients report that gassy vegetables such as onions, broccoli and cauliflower cause their babies to be fussy during breastfeeding. If you suspect a certain food is causing your infant discomfort, try a dietary challenge: eliminate the food from your diet for three days to see if your baby’s reaction subsides, then return the food to your diet and again monitor your infant’s reaction. You may have to eliminate certain foods for a period of time. Depending on how long you decide to breastfeed, you may be able to reintroduce this food in your diet without causing upset to your baby.
Spice Things Up
Mothers try to remove spices from their diets. While your baby will get tastes of food flavors and spices, babies
do not seem to be bothered by these taste changes. In fact, mothers in other cultures rarely change their diets for breastfeeding, meaning that these babies are constantly able to try new tastes. Spicy foods, garlic, and lots of
other tastes are common, and if you like them you should not avoid them while breastfeeding.
Alcohol easily enters breast milk. One study found that the alcohol concentration of breast milk peaks within one hour after having a drink. What’s more, even small amounts of alcohol—for example, one bottle of beer—may reduce your baby’s intake of breast milk. Alcohol may change the flavor of your milk, making it unacceptable to the infant. Because infants metabolize alcohol differently, it may suppress their feeding behavior. And drinking alcohol may even reduce the amount of breast milk you produce.
Despite the claim that a little alcohol facilitates the let-down reflex and allows women to breastfeed more easily, there is no scientific evidence to support this. If you don’t want to give up the occasional glass of wine or cocktail, there’s no need to worry. A drink once in a while does not appear to affect your ability to produce breast milk, nor does it impair your baby’s development. If you have several drinks, however, you should postpone breastfeeding for at least an hour for every drink you consume.
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If you eat a well-balanced healthy diet, there is little need to take a supplement to meet your nutrient needs for breastfeeding. However, there are circumstances when it might be a good idea:
- You find it difficult to make healthy food choices.
- You are a complete vegetarian (vegan) and you don’t use vitamin B12-fortified foods like soy and rice beverages.
- You’re concerned about meeting your iron needs because you eat very little red meat and don’t choose whole grains very often.
- You avoid dairy products and don’t choose calcium-fortified products such as soy and rice beverages or orange juice.
- You’re at risk for vitamin D deficiency because you spend very little time in the sun and you don’t drink milk or fortified soy/rice milk.
A good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement will help you meet your nutrient needs, with the exception of calcium, during and after breastfeeding. If you are lacking calcium in your diet, I recommend that you take calcium supplements. For every serving of milk or milk alternative you don’t get—aim for three a day— take a 300-milligram calcium citrate supplement with vitamin D added. Do not take high-dose single supplements of other nutrients while breastfeeding. Make an effort to choose nutritious, wholesome foods every day.
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