As a breastfeeding mom, it's normal to worry about, well, everything. Most of us worry about how much milk we're making and if it's enough to meet our babies' needs, but should our concern stop there? Should we be worrying about what's in our milk, too? Fortunately, and despite what you may have heard regarding "things not to eat when your breastfeeding," according to experts most breastfeeding moms can eat whatever they like, whenever they like. They (and you!) do't have to worry about it affecting their nursing babies at all.
According to What to Expect, to stay healthy during breastfeeding it's important to eat a balanced diet. There are, however, actually very few foods that you should eat less of or avoid while breastfeeding. Anne Smith, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), agrees. According to her website Breastfeeding Basics, while many moms believe that the foods that they eat impact their babies' behavior or health, it's probably not the case. While it's true that some babies can react to the foods their moms eat, due to allergies and intolerances, according the BabyCenter this is actually pretty rare. As always, you should consult a doctor before trying to diagnose a health issue in your baby or attempting a special diet while breastfeeding.
So yeah, while you are breastfeeding, chances are you can continue to eat and drink what you like, with a few caveats, of course:
According to What to Expect, a drink or two is fine when you're nursing. The site recommended that you nurse before you drink, so you can allow adequate time for your body to metabolize alcohol before your baby's next feeding. It's also recommended that you limit your drinking to a few drinks a week.
Contrary to popular belief, it's not necessary to "pump and dump" your breast milk after drinking. According to Slate, as your body metabolizes alcohol, the level in your breast milk will decrease. You should, however, make sure you're sober enough to safely hold and feed your baby.
According to Anne Smith, international board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC), although many moms believe that eating gassy foods like broccoli or beans can cause your baby to have stomach issues, it's not likely. Because neither gas nor fiber are transferred in your breast milk, your baby's post-feeding as pains are actually more likely an example of correlation, not causation.
Some caffeine in moderation is just fine for breastfeeding moms. Which is awesome, because caffeine is necessary if I want to continue functioning in my current, sleep-deprived state.
However, and according to BabyCenter, because caffeine is transferred to your baby in your breast milk, too much might make them fussy or interfere with their sleep.
According to What To Expect, only about three percent of babies have an allergy or intolerance to cow's milk. Some are also found to be intolerant to milk and soy, which is called a Milk Soy Protein Intolerance (MSPI). Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, blood or mucus in their stool, discomfort and poor weight gain.
According to the website GIKids.org, a breastfeeding mom can choose to completely eliminate foods containing dairy and soy from their diet, and/or feed their baby a hypoallergenic formula. According to BabyCenter, before eliminating foods from your diet, you should consult your doctor to make sure that you are getting adequate nutrition.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, breastfeeding moms should avoid some fish including shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish, because they contain high levels of mercury, which can be harmful to you and your baby. Breastfeeding moms should also limit their consumption of tuna to six ounces or less.
If you don't eat fish, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends adding a docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplement in addition to your prenatal vitamin for omega-3 fatty acids.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, breastfeeding moms have additional dietary requirements when it comes to vitamins and minerals. They recommend that nursing moms get plenty of calcium-rich foods like milk, yogurt, and cheese. However, when it comes to dairy, there's such a thing as too much. According to BabyCenter, too much dairy can lead to a fussy gassy baby, so it's best to limit your intake to three servings a day.
According to What to Expect, nursing moms may want to consider avoiding herbal remedies and teas. Because they aren't regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, it's best to not risk eating or drinking something that might harm you, your baby, or your supply. While some teas and herbal supplements are marketed to breastfeeding women as ways to increase their breast milk supply, it's worth noting that huge review of research published in the Journal of Human Lactation did not find any evidence that herbal remedies are effective at increasing supply or safe for use by lactating women.
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