What Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding?

Reviewed on 6/11/2021

Breastfeeding and diet

Breastfeeding is one of the best ways to bond with your baby. It has myriad benefits for you as well as your baby, but you may want to avoid coffee, tea, chocolate, gassy foods, fish, spicy foods, eggs, nuts, milk and peppermint, parsley and sage as they may cause reactions in your baby.
Breastfeeding is one of the best ways to bond with your baby. It has myriad benefits for you as well as your baby, but you may want to avoid coffee, tea, chocolate, gassy foods, fish, spicy foods, eggs, nuts, milk and peppermint, parsley and sage as they may cause reactions in your baby.

Breastfeeding is one of the best ways to bond with your baby. It has myriad benefits for you as well as your baby. Breast milk supplies the perfect nutrition for your newborn that satiates their hunger and thirst as well as strengthens immunity. It also releases the feel-good hormones in the mother, aids weight loss and reduces cancer risk.

Women need to be extra cautious about their diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding because the foods they eat may directly or indirectly affect the baby. It is necessary to eat well while breastfeeding. A diet rich in wholesome fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein and calcium-rich foods is recommended. You need an estimated 300 to 500 extra calories per day as a breastfeeding mother. Every baby has different needs and they react differently to different foods. For instance, some babies get gassy or fussy when their moms eat beans, cauliflower or broccoli, whereas others can tolerate these foods just fine. However, some common foods, if avoided, would be better if you are breastfeeding.

Gassy foods

If your baby is colicy or gassy, avoid the following foods for a few weeks to see whether they relieve symptoms:

  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts

Chocolate, coffee

Caffeine in chocolate and coffee can harm your child. They can affect your and your baby’s sleep. Hence, it is advisable to avoid or limit your caffeine intake. You can also try the decaf option.

Fish

Although fish are a good source of protein and are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, there is a chance that fish may have mercury and other contaminants. Fish that are high in mercury include

  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • King mackerel
  • Tilefish
  • Bass
  • Prawns

If you still need to have fish, you can have well-cooked seafood twice per week. Besides that, choose fish that are lower in mercury, such as salmon, tilapia and trout.

Spicy foods

Most breastfeeding babies can handle spicy food in your diet. However, if your baby is gassy or colicky and gets diarrhea every time you have spicy food, then it’s time to cut back on the heat.

Peppermint, parsley and sage

Although they have numerous health benefits, they are not preferred during breastfeeding. The main reason could be that they affect lactation and milk supply. For example, eating excess parsley, sage and peppermint may cut your milk supply. Even peppermint-flavored toothpaste or candies can be problematic for some nursing moms.

Milk

It doesn’t usually cause any problems. However, to be sure, see how your baby reacts to it. Inform your pediatrician if your kid has the following problems after breastfeeding:

Tea

Caffeine in tea can cause the following problems in mother and baby:

If you still can’t live without your tea, then make sure that you don’t drink tea when you eat iron-rich foods.

Eggs, peanuts and nuts

If your baby seems to show the following symptoms after breastfeeding, then immediately consult your physician:

These are signs of an allergic reaction caused due to eggs, peanuts or nuts that you consumed. Try avoiding these food items for a few weeks to check if the child recovers.

Sugary drinks and alcohols

Sugary drinks are a big no-no for a nursing mom. It gives you calories without any nutrition. Hence, avoid sodas or fruit drinks when you are thirsty. Instead, go for a glass of water every time you breastfeed the child. Similarly, nursing moms should avoid alcohol completely.

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References
WebMD: "Can I Eat That? I'm Breastfeeding." https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/ss/slideshow-breastfeeding-foods

Kids Health: "Breastfeeding FAQs: Your Eating and Drinking Habits." https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/breastfeed-eating.html

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