23 Sep Foods to Avoid While Your Breastfeeding
If you’re planning on breastfeeding, it’s important to understand the direct link between your baby’s health and your diet. Just like during pregnancy, what you consume will be passed on to your baby. Many new moms are aware of this, but aren’t sure what foods to avoid while they’re breastfeeding. This article will help you understand what foods could be a risk to your baby.
Fish High in Mercury
Consuming fish while breastfeeding can provide a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which aids in the development of your baby’s brain. For that reason, fish is a recommended add-on to your postpartum diet. However, there are some fish that could do more harm than good.
Mercury is a toxic metal that can damage your nervous system. As adults, we have a higher tolerance for mercury build-up, but that is not the case for your newborn. Some species of fish are known to carry higher levels of mercury than others, and should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding. These include:
- Bigeye tuna
- King mackerel
Alcohol and Caffeine
Anything you drink while you breastfeed will be passed on to your baby. This includes alcohol and caffeine. That doesn’t mean you have to quit coffee and drinking altogether while breastfeeding, but definitely be wary of when and how much you’re consuming. The CDC recommends breastfeeding moms limit their caffeine intake to 300mg daily which is three 6-ounce cups of coffee, four cups of regular tea. In regard to alcohol, you should “pump and dump” and avoid feeding your child with any milk expressed after drinking. One drink can stay in your system for up to 3 hours, and that timeline goes up the more you drink.
There are a number of foods that are thought to lower milk production in breastfeeding women. These foods are called anti-galactagogues, and they include:
- Lemon balm
It’s important to remember that every body is different and your body’s reaction to these foods could be very different than what most people experience. Many women are able to eat some of these foods without any drop in milk production. Be sure to monitor your own milk production after eating these foods to determine if it’s something you should avoid or not.
Spicy Food/Strong Flavors
During breastfeeding, your baby receives not only the nutrients you consume, but they also get a little taste of what you’ve eaten. Be mindful of this when you eat spicy foods or dishes with a lot of garlic. Interestingly, your baby is less likely to be off-put by these flavors if you had regularly consumed them during pregnancy. Be aware of your baby’s reaction to your breast milk after eating these dishes to determine if you should avoid them.
Babies with food allergies may have a reaction to your breast milk after you eat a food that they are sensitive to. This can be hard to identify as a new mom. If you notice your baby is experiencing discomfort after breastfeeding, it could be due to a food allergy. Some of the symptoms to look out for are colic, diarrhea, gas, bloody stool, vomiting, rash, and/or congestion. Some foods may also increase gas in your baby without it being an allergy. If you do notice these symptoms after feeding, consult with your pediatrician. They will be able to help identify the cause.
In order to narrow down a potential food allergy, keep track of your postpartum diet and your baby’s reactions to feedings. If you can identify a specific food linked to a reaction, you may have found a food allergy. Some foods that may cause reactions include:
- Peanuts or tree nuts
Be sure to reach out to lactation specialists, your pediatrician or the La Leche League for more information on what is safe to eat and drink during breastfeeding. Consult with your doctor to see if there’s anything you specifically should avoid based on your health profile. Your diet during breastfeeding will set the tone for your baby’s eating habits throughout life. For more information on breastfeeding check out Mommyato.
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- Centers for Disease Control (CDC). May 2022. Maternal Diet https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-special-circumstances/diet-and-micronutrients/maternal-diet.html.
- FDA 1990-2012, “The Occurrence of Mercury in the Fishery Resources of the Gulf of Mexico” Report 2000 https://www.fda.gov/food/metals-and-your-food/mercury-levels-commercial-fish-and-shellfish-1990-2012