What Not To Eat While Breastfeeding?
Your diet heavily influences the flavor and nutritional quality of your breast milk. That being said, what you eat, ultimately affects the health of your breastfed munchkin.
To ensure that you are providing the perfect nourishment to your little one while breastfeeding and not passing any element that can hamper their digestion, general health, and feeding habits, let's find out what not to eat while breastfeeding.
Say 'No' To Booze If You Can
While you can consume alcohol in limited amounts during breastfeeding, avoiding it like the plague is best. Even the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention recommends staying away from alcohol entirely as the safest choice.
Frequent exposure to alcohol puts babies at risk of delayed growth, disrupted sleep patterns, and delayed development of psychomotor skills. In addition, excessive alcohol can potentially affect your breast milk production. However, drinking in moderation doesn't hurt much.
You are allowed to have one standard drink daily as that does not pose a threat to your infant. For your information, 12 ounces of beer, 1.5 ounces of hard alcohol, and 5 ounces of wine are equivalent to a standard drink.
The alcohol levels in your breastmilk experience a surge within half an hour to an hour after you drink. The alcohol will keep circulating in your system for about 2-3 hours till it is completely broken down or metabolized in the liver. Once alcohol clears up from your blood, your breastmilk is free from it too.
Therefore, it is a no-brainer to abstain from breastfeeding within 3 hours of having a drink. However, if you know you might have a drink at some time and the time clashes with your little one's nursing session, it is best to pump your breastmilk ahead of time.
MomMed's wearable breastfeeding pumps are a boon for breastfeeding mothers. These portable breast pumps can help you prepare your little one's milk supply regardless of where you are and what you are doing. Before reading further, please go check them out!
Cut Down On Caffeine
Caffeine makes it to the list of 'foods to avoid while breastfeeding. Yes, we know it sounds like bad news, but you will have to cut back on caffeine for your breastfeeding baby.
Tea, coffee, chocolate, soda, and other carbonated drinks feed caffeine into your system. When that ends up in your breastmilk, it can be problematic as babies cannot break down caffeine efficiently. It remains in their system for days.
Studies show that caffeine affects the iron level in breast milk and gives your little one a hard time falling asleep, disrupting their sleep patterns. However, the good news is, drinking caffeinated beverages in moderation will not do much harm. Limiting caffeine consumption to 300 milligrams a day will not affect your baby adversely.
Make sure not to drink tea or coffee while breastfeeding or two to three hours ahead. If you haven't sipped on your first cup of coffee yet, and a nursing session is due in an hour, then breastfeeding pumps can save you. Stock up on your breast milk and revive yourself with the wonder drink.
Watch Out For High Mercury Fish
Fish is not considered one of the foods to avoid while breastfeeding. It is rich in two essential fatty acids- docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid. These omega-3 fatty acids are rarely found in other foods and are crucial for a baby's brain development.
However, some fish are high in mercury and put babies at risk of mercury poisoning. High levels of mercury affect the development of cognitive and fine motor skills in children. In addition, it also impairs visual-spatial awareness and causes delayed speech development.
King mackerel, shark, swordfish, tuna, bigeye, and orange roughly are usually high in mercury and top charts of the list of what not to eat while breastfeeding. To ensure that your baby gets enough omega-3 fatty acids through breastmilk, you can treat yourself to 2-3 servings of low-mercury fish like oyster, mullet, lobster, shrimp, salmon, etc., in a week.
Highly Processed Foods Don't Help In Any Way
Breastfeeding requires you to have a healthy and balanced diet to cope with the nutrient demands of you and your child. Your body needs ample vitamins, minerals, fiber, and proteins during this time.
On the contrary, highly processed foods stuff calories into your body and are deficient in essential nutrients. They are also rich in added sugars, unsaturated fats, and additives that are not healthy.
Moreover, studies show that frequently exposing breastfed children to the flavors of processed foods influences their eating habits later in life. They become more inclined towards such foods and have difficulty forming healthy eating habits.
This results in obesity which acts like a magnet for many other diseases. We hope now you know why a discussion on what not to eat while breastfeeding cannot be complete without talking about highly processed foods.
Beware Of These Foods Too
The above items are always talked about when foods not safe for breastfeeding are the topic of concern. However, there are some other foods that might not suit your baby well. Intensely flavored foods like onion and garlic impart flavor to your breastmilk.
While this doesn't harm your baby, you should always observe how they respond to the flavors. Behavioral changes during breastfeeding, like resistance and fussiness, might indicate that the taste is not going well with them.
Moreover, some babies are allergic to milk protein. If your little one develops colic-like symptoms, vomiting, and diarrhea after you have had cow milk or dairy items, then it's time to talk to your dietician and strike dairy off your diet list if needed.
Certain foods like beans, cabbage, broccoli, bran, Brussels sprouts, and citrus fruits can make your baby gassy and fussy. If you notice their discomfort after mealtime, giving those foods up for some time is better.
Moreover, herbal supplements, though made from natural sources, are not the safest to consume when nursing. They surprisingly qualify as foods not safe for breastfeeding as they are not FDA-approved and might contain elements that can harm your baby.
Always watch for signs like bloody stool, diarrhea, vomiting, eczema, fussiness, and congestion when breastfeeding. These might be a response to an ingredient in your diet your baby is allergic to. In such cases, schedule an appointment with your pediatrician and let them help you find the problem.
If advised, cross off certain food items from your diet until you are allowed to consume them again. If you found your favorite foods on the list of what not to eat while breastfeeding, we know cutting back on them can be tricky. However, understand that this way, you are doing the best for your baby. Pat your back and carry on! Time flies, so you shall soon find yourself relishing them.