Every breastfeeding mom worries about the food and drinks she's consuming — should she change her diet so there's no issue with her breast milk? Is a glass of wine OK? What about spicy food? Even the flavors you infuse into your favorite dishes may give you a moment of pause, especially ones that are very strong, like garlic. But do you have to give up the ultimate flavor (I mean, it literally goes in everything) or can you eat garlic while breastfeeding?
When it comes to a breastfeeding diet, the important thing to remember is that there isn't one. According to KellyMom, there are no certain foods that a breastfeeding mom should avoid. Anything is fair game, unless you notice an obvious reaction in your baby that can be linked to something you ate. So spicy foods, dairy, seasonings — it's all OK.
But eating garlic while you're breastfeeding is specifically noteworthy. Parents suggested that adding new flavors, especially strong ones, to your diet can influence your baby's tastes as they'll be accustomed to trying new things. And garlic? It can flavor your breast milk.
A 1993 study investigated the effects of garlic on a mother's breast milk and found that babies who had no exposure to garlic in their mother's milk before actually nursed for a significantly longer time after their mother ingested garlic capsules than babies who had been introduced to garlic in their mother's milk before. The study also compared the nursing sessions between the same group of babies — one time, they nursed after their mother took a placebo, and another, they nursed after she ingested the garlic capsule. They breastfed for a much longer time after the garlic than the placebo.
When you note that your diet doesn't have to change to breastfeed and then science backs the claim that babies love new flavors (especially garlic), you realize it's more than OK to eat garlic while you're breastfeeding. In fact, you may find that your baby takes in more milk and enjoys it more after you add the flavor to your favorite foods. Obviously, this is the perfect excuse to eat some Italian.