There are many old ideas about what breastfeeding women should and shouldn't do that still make the rounds today. Many are rooted in outdated studies or medical advice, but some are culturally driven and just plain wrong. All of this is the perfect recipe for confusion, which new moms have enough of on a daily basis. Luckily, there are many things that are actually safe for breastfeeding moms and their babies, despite what people may say.
Breast milk, aka "liquid gold," has been long touted as the best food you could give an infant. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it's recommended that all new mothers exclusively breastfeed until the infant is at least 6 months old. After that, parents should incorporate other foods with the breast milk until the child is 2 years old. Undoubtedly the things you ingest and actions you take as a breastfeeding mother can impact your milk and your baby. But you have to consider if there is proof that whatever you're doing impacts things at all?
When it comes to decided what you choose to eat, do with your body, or do with your baby, knowledge is power. You can certainly listen to all of the suggestions for breastfeeding mothers, or sift through it and choose what's right for you. Ultimately, only you will know what is safest and healthiest for you and your baby's individual needs. To help you figure it out, here are nine things that are actually safe for your baby, according to experts.
1. Prescription Medications
Most medications pass through breast milk at very low levels and pose no real risk to most infants, according to the Mayo Clinic. There are exceptions to be mindful of, however, which is why every single medication needs to be evaluated separately.
For example, if a mother struggles with depression and needs a certain medication, she'll have to determine if the risks of taking the medication outweigh the benefits. Some mothers have chronic illnesses that are best managed with prescription medications. Consider talking through all of the information available with your doctor before making a decision.
2. Fish (Including Sushi)
Missing your beloved sushi or salmon? Go ahead and eat it. As it turns out, breastfeeding women are encouraged to increase their fish consumption instead of avoid it, according to Web MD, because the nutritional benefits exceed any possible mercury concerns.
3. Herbs And Spices
Missing that garlicky tomato sauce at your favorite Italian restaurant? Or that spicy chili recipe? Turns out that these herbs are hardly ever problematic for breastfeeding moms, according to What To Expect. If your baby seems gassy or fussy, you might want to check for another cause, as foods — even ones that are considered allergens — are not usually the issue.
That being said, certain herbs especially in large amounts can decrease milk supply or be harmful including ginseng, rhubarb, star anise, and many more according to Kelly Mom.
Having your cup (or two) of coffee is not a big deal. Just don't overdo it. According to the Baby Center, you can have no more than 300 milligrams of caffeine per day — that amounts to about 16 ounces of brewed coffee. Any more than that can cause you or your baby (or both) to be jittery, irritable, and contribute to sleep problems.
According to Parents, breastfeeding moms can have an occasional glass of wine or beer one to two times a week. Women metabolize the booze at different rates, but most will be in the clear an hour or two after consumption. Additionally, pumping and dumping isn't always necessary especially if you feed before you drink and stick to just one libation. The best person to judge if dumping is necessary is you, so follow your instincts.
6. Nipple Creams
If you're dealing with some sore or cracked nipples, nipple cream can offer relief while breastfeeding. That being said, you want to keep an eye on the ingedients. There have been some concerns over the years regarding lanolin, a common ingredient in nipple creams. A 1989 report in The Los Angeles Times claimed that trace amounts of cancer-causing pesticides had been found in lanolin, but the ingredient hasn't been studied in depth since then. Given the resources available, it's hard to conclude if lanolin is problematic or not.
According to Drugs.com, lanolin is no more effective than safer ingredients like aloe vera and peppermint gel. So it may be best to use creams that utilize those ingredients instead.
7. Supplementing With Formula
As explained by Very Well, supplementing with formula is totally safe and should be done if it works for you and your baby. There are so many reasons to combination feed with breast milk and formula including low milk supply, medical issues with your baby, or you just want to. Ultimately, you have to do what's best for you.
8. Exclusive Pumping
There are so many reasons a mom would choose to partially pump or exclusively pump, all of which are valid. Exclusively pumping is totally safe for your boobs, supply, and your baby. As long as you properly wash your pump parts you're good to go. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just released new guidelines for cleaning breast pump parts to avoid infections which include washing your part pumps after every single use, using a separate wash basin and brush for pump parts, and air drying parts.
It is safe to quit breastfeeding. Let me repeat, it is safe to quit breastfeeding. Moms have to do what is best for their babies and themselves, and if that involves formula feeding, then go for it. With formula feeding, moms just have to be aware of some safety guidelines as far as buying a product that doesn't look tampered with or expired and preparing and mixing in the recommended ways, as explained on What To Expect.
Breastfeeding moms can take solace in the fact that their body becomes a little more their own after pregnancy. Basically, what is safe for a breastfeeding woman is whatever she, her baby, and her trusted doctors are comfortable with.