Pregnancy comes with a whole lot of rules, so by the time I had my baby I was ready for some damn freedom. Then I realized, to my horror, that breastfeeding comes with a few restrictions, too. Ugh. Of course, for breastfeeding mamas and their babies it's usually worth it to give up a few things temporarily. Prior to starting your nursing journey, though, you’ll want to know some of the things moms should never do while breastfeeding. Just like literally everything else involved with parenthood, it pays to be prepared, informed, and on the top of your game.
Personally, and unfortunately, I didn’t get to breastfeed for too long. Despite all the preparations I made when I was pregnant, there were a slew of factors that worked against me when it came time to nurse. For example, my son was spent some time in the NICU after he was born, and I didn’t pump enough in the first few days post-birth to establish and maintain a steady supply of breast milk. I was taking anti-anxiety medication, plus pain pills, as the result of some serious (and painful) birth injuries. And to top it all off, I have insufficient glandular tissue. So like I said, there were more than a few things working against me.
Despite the numerous difficulties and frustrating challenges, though, I did my best to do what I could to increase my milk supply and keep my baby well-fed and safe. I made sure to stay away from certain foods and beverages, and did my best to get a sufficient amount of rest (well, I tried, anyway). Here are more specifics as to what you should avoid doing while breastfeeding so you, and your baby, can get the most out of the experience.
Forget To Drink Water
Water is the single most important thing everyone should be drinking basically always. This goes double when you’re breastfeeding, though. If you don’t drink enough water, you’ll produce less breast milk and feel run down. Trust me when I say you'll want to avoid both, especially when you're living that postpartum life.
Forget To Eat
Breastfeeding burns a lot of calories, which means you need to consume additional calories to compensate. Don’t eat less because society tells you to "lose the baby weight" all of fives minutes after you've had a baby. F*ck society's beauty standards, my dear friend.
Use Hormonal Birth Control
You’ll want to avoid using most forms of hormonal birth control when you’re breastfeeding. While some forms of birth control are perfectly safe to use while nursing, most others may cause you to produce less milk. Stick to condoms, diaphragms, or try breastfeeding every four hours exclusively (which apparently works well, but is probably unrealistic for a good majority of breastfeeding moms).
The baby is out and your pregnancy is over so it's time to celebrate with a cold beer, right? Eh, kind of. While it's a common misconception that you shouldn't drink while breastfeeding, it's actually safe, according to the American Pediatrics Association (APA) in small amounts and over a long period of time. Alcohol only remains in your body (and breast milk) for as long as you’re feeling it. But once that buzz wears off, you’re good to go.
Have A Third Cup Of Coffee
I know most of us feel like we need coffee in those early days of new-mom life (hell, every day of mom life, actually) And that’s actually OK, even while breastfeeding. BabyCenter recommends no more than about two cups of coffee (16 ounces) per day to keep mom and baby happy, though. You could also always try switching to something with a bit less caffeine in it, like green tea.
Eat A Ton Of Fish
Breastfeeding moms can absolutely eat sushi, but they probably shouldn't indulge too much. According to LiveStrong, you shouldn’t have more than 12 ounces of low-mercury fish (like tuna and salmon) per week. High-mercury fish, though (like swordfish and mackerel), should be avoided entirely.
Eat A Ton Of Garlic
Garlic can actually be beneficial to breastfeeding, according to VeryWell, and has even been used as a galactagogue that can increase your breast milk supply. That said, ingesting a lot of garlic can and does change the taste of your breast milk.
Ingest Certain Herbs
Most herbs are not problematic for breastfeeding, but that doesn’t mean they’re all safe. Some herbs, like sage and spearmint, can decrease your supply (which is a good thing when you have oversupply, but isn't usually the goal of every nursing mom). Other herbs, however, like wormwood and star anise, can actually harm mom and baby. Best thing to do? When in doubt, research and ask your doctor.
Take Prescription Medications Before Consulting Your Doctor
Many if not most prescription medications are totally safe to take while breastfeeding. In the end, only a small amount of any medication will end up in your breast milk. That said, you’ll always want to consult with your doctor before you take anything. And if it’s after hours, you can also check out the LactMed site to see if any contraindications are listed for your particular medication.