When breastfeeding or breast pumping, many mothers are curious whether there are specific foods they should or should not eat. In truth, there are no foods that every breastfeeding mother must have, and there are no foods that all mothers must avoid.
There is no need to steer clear of chocolate, spicy foods, onions, garlic, broccoli, or cabbage. A good rule of thumb to follow is “everything in moderation.” However a well-balanced diet is important to help both you and baby feel your best.”
According to research, food is not totally related to increased milk production. Milk production is based on how many times each day your milk is drained well from your breasts. The more times you breastfeed or express your milk and the more drained your breasts are, the more milk you will make
While there may not be a strict list of breastfeeding foods to avoid completely, there are a few things you may want to cut back on while nursing to keep your milk production levels up and ensure baby is happy and healthy. After all, molecules from the food you eat can make their way through your breast milk and into baby’s system.
It’s important to know that caffeine does work its way into your breast milk. Babies’ bodies aren’t prepared to process caffeine as quickly as an adult’s body, so if you’re hoping that your baby will nap soon, wait to have your coffee until after baby is sleep. One or two cups of coffee, tea or soda a day won’t affect your baby (and during those early, sleep deprived months, it might be just what you need to keep going.
You don’t need to avoid fish entirely, but you do need to be selective about what types of seafood you’re eating. Some fish can be high in mercury, which can find its way into your milk supply. Follow the same rules for eating fish as you did when you were pregnant and everything should be OK.
You may have also heard a rumor that strongly flavored things—such as garlic or spicy dishes—are among the foods to avoid while breastfeeding, but there aren’t any hard and fast rules about the tastes you can enjoy. In fact, exposing baby to different tastes might even make your child more open to flavors later on. Babies are more likely to accept and enjoy new solid foods when they were exposed to a wide variety of tastes through breast milk.”
While most babies slurp up breast milk no matter the flavor, a few have picky palates right from the start — detecting and rejecting even the smallest hint of garlic or strong spices. You’ll quickly tell which category fits your baby and be able to modify your diet accordingly.
Another thing to watch for: It’s not common (and hasn’t been backed up yet by science), but according to some mums, certain foods they eat (especially gas-producing ones like cabbage, broccoli, onions, cauliflower, beans or Brussels sprouts) unsettle their little ones’ tummies and temperaments (even causing colic). And a maternal diet heavy in melons, peaches and other fruits may cause diarrhea in some sensitive babies, while red pepper can cause a rash in others.
Don’t assume, though, that your baby will have a reaction to what you eat. Keep in mind that what seems like a reaction (fussiness, gassiness) is much more likely newborn baby business as usual.
It takes between two and six hours from the time you eat a certain food until it affects the taste and aroma of your breast milk. So if your baby is gassy, spits up more, rejects the breast or is fussy a few hours after you eat a certain food, try eliminating the food for a few days to test the response. The specific foods are different for different babies, and some infants never react to any foods.
A very few babies (two to three in 100) are actually allergic to foods in their moms’ diets. The most common offender is cow's milk; others are soy, nuts, wheat and peanuts. In addition to extreme fussiness and crying, babies who have a real food allergy will display other symptoms, including: occasional to frequent vomiting, loose , watery or mucousy stools , lack of weight gain , eczema ,hives, wheezing or nasal discharge or stuffiness.
If you suspect baby is reacting to something you’ve eaten, the next course of action is usually to eliminate that food completely from your diet for two to three weeks and see if it makes a difference. And remember to talk to your baby's doctor first before you omit any foods from your diet.
As long as the baby doesn't display any reaction to particular foods the mother eats, she can continue to enjoy a healthy varied diet while giving her baby the best food possible for his growth and development.
At the end of the day, remember: Unless certain foods have been flagged as a problem for your child, there’s no definitive list of foods to avoid while breastfeeding. So instead of stressing about which breastfeeding foods to avoid, focus on what you should eat: A colorful, varied diet full of nutrient-rich foods.