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The time you spend breastfeeding your baby is inherently special. Breastfeeding allows you to bond more closely with your child, providing warmth, comfort and security. It also offers numerous benefits for your baby’s health and ability to grow and develop. In fact, your breast milk is perfectly suited to provide your new baby with all the nutrients, cells, hormones and disease-fighting antibodies he needs.
Will Dieting Affect My Milk Supply
Despite the numerous benefits associated with breastfeeding, many new or expectant mothers are concerned about how their diet may affect their breast milk and baby. While it’s true that certain substances you eat, drink or consume can pass through breast milk, that doesn’t mean you have to completely change your diet or give up your favorite foods after giving birth.
Foods That Increase Milk Supply
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women generally don’t need to avoid specific foods while breastfeeding. Above all, it is important for new mothers to eat a healthy, varied and nutrient-rich diet. New mothers are also encouraged to eat an additional 330 to 400 calories a day to supplement the energy and nutrition needed to produce breast milk.
However, there are certain foods and drinks that you should consume with caution, as too much can cause problems or negatively affect your baby. In the end, it’s all about moderation. For some substances, such as tobacco and marijuana, it is essential to avoid them while breastfeeding, as they can harm the health and development of the baby.
We’ll delve into certain foods and drinks that should be limited (or consumed with caution) while breastfeeding, as well as debunking some myths that exist about things to avoid while breastfeeding.
No amount of alcohol is safe for your baby to consume. Because alcohol passes from breast milk to the baby, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) generally recommends that mothers avoid drinking alcohol while breastfeeding.
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If you choose to drink, the AAP considers it safe to consume one alcoholic beverage per day (equivalent to a 4-ounce glass of wine, 12-ounce beer, or 1-ounce spirit). It is better to consume alcohol after you finish breastfeeding or pumping, not before. The AAP also recommends that you wait at least two hours after consuming alcohol before your next feeding or pump to allow your body to metabolize as much alcohol as possible.
“Pumping and pouring” (expressing or pumping breast milk after drinking alcohol and then discarding it) will not reduce the amount of alcohol in breast milk. It also won’t help you metabolize alcohol faster. This method removes milk from your breasts, but your alcohol levels may still be high in your blood, meaning it can still transfer into your newly produced breast milk.
Less than 1% of the caffeine you consume passes through your breast milk to your baby. That small amount usually won’t harm your baby if you limit your caffeine intake to just a few cups a day. The AAP recommends limiting yourself to two to three cups of coffee, soda, energy drinks, or tea a day (no more than 16 to 24 ounces total).
Consuming large amounts of caffeinated beverages (more than five cups a day) can disrupt your baby’s sleep patterns or make him fussy, fussy, or irritable. If you notice any of these reactions in your baby after consuming caffeine, consider reducing your intake or temporarily eliminating it from your diet.
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Chocolate can have the same effects as caffeine when consumed in large amounts. Chocolate contains caffeine as well as a stimulant called theobromine, a substance found in the cacao plant. This stimulant is more present in dark chocolate than in milk chocolate and is absent in white chocolate.
Again, this is about moderation. Eating a few pieces of chocolate or enjoying a slice of chocolate cake is perfectly fine. Just limit your chocolate intake and don’t overdo it.
Fish and other forms of seafood are an excellent source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins D and B12, iron and minerals like selenium, zinc and iodine. However, most types of fish also contain mercury, which can damage a baby’s nervous system in large amounts.
In moderate consumption, the mercury found in fish is only transferred through breast milk in small amounts. To help limit the amount of mercury you consume and pass on to your baby, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends limiting your weekly fish intake and avoiding fish known to be high in mercury.
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In general, the FDA recommends eating only two to three servings of low-mercury fish per week (one serving equals 4 ounces of raw fish) or eating one serving per week of high-mercury fish such as walleye/fish. white. Tuna or mahi-mahi (dolphin fish). High-mercury fish that should be avoided completely while breastfeeding include horse mackerel, marlin, rough orange, shark, swordfish, bluefish, and yellowfin tuna. See the FDA’s fish intake guidelines for breastfeeding mothers here.
If you eat fish caught by a friend or family member, check the fish recommendations provided by the US Environmental Protection Agency for mercury levels in the area. Limit yourself to one serving of these fish per week while breastfeeding.
Tobacco and marijuana products should be avoided while breastfeeding. The nicotine found in tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, can easily pass through a mother’s bloodstream and into breast milk. When ingested, nicotine can affect your baby’s sleep patterns. Nicotine is also known to reduce milk production by decreasing the production of prolactin, a hormone needed for the production of breast milk.
Marijuana can also pass to your baby through breast milk. While the long-term effects of THC (the chemical found in marijuana) on your baby’s brain development are still being studied, the AAP says that no amount of THC is safe for your baby to consume.
Foods To Avoid While Breastfeeding
There are many myths surrounding the foods you should avoid while breastfeeding due to the supposed effects they can have on your baby. We investigated some of the most common breastfeeding myths to see if they have any scientific backing.
It is a myth that mint, parsley and sage reduce breast milk production when consumed in large amounts (eg as herbal supplements). There is no scientific evidence to prove that these three plants affect milk production; However, it is always best to consult your doctor before taking herbal supplements or using herbal products such as herbal teas or essential oils. Herbs are not regulated by the FDA, which means there is no guarantee of safety.
In general, using common herbs and spices to flavor foods is completely safe for you and your baby. However, when consumed in pill or tea form, some herbs can be very potent and enter the milk supply, and very little research has been done on how this affects breastfeeding babies. See the BabyCenter Breast Milk Interactions Chart for more information on herbs and breastfeeding.
It’s a myth that you should avoid strongly flavored foods like spicy foods or garlic while breastfeeding. While it is true that these flavor profiles can change the taste of breast milk, many babies are not bothered by this.
Foods To Eat (and Avoid) As A Breastfeeding Mom
Your child’s tolerance for spicy flavors or garlic will depend on both cultural traditions and personal habits. If you regularly ate spicy foods and lots of garlic during your pregnancy, your baby was already exposed to them in her amniotic fluid (yes, babies do consume some amniotic fluid) and is more likely to get used to these flavors after birth.
It can take anywhere from two to six hours for strong flavors to show up in your breast milk after eating them. If you notice that your baby is fussy, gassy, or rejects the breast after eating spicy foods or too much garlic, consult your pediatrician. They may recommend that you try eliminating these foods from your diet for a few days to see if anything improves.
It’s a myth that foods that can normally make mothers gassy, such as beans, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, and onions, will also make your baby gassy after breastfeeding. Gas is a local reaction in your body that occurs in your digestive system, so things that make you gassy won’t affect your baby’s digestive system.
The foods you consume and pass through your breast milk can only cause your baby to have gas if he has a specific sensitivity to them.
Best And Worst Foods For Breast Milk Supply
Speaking of food sensitivities, some babies have intolerances or allergies to certain foods. Every time you eat something, molecules from those foods pass through your breast milk and into your baby’s digestive system. If your baby is allergic or intolerant to what you’ve eaten, their digestive system may become inflamed or an immune reaction may begin. Your breast milk is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction in your baby, but it’s still possible.
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