You’ve worked hard over the past nine months to eat healthy and deliver a healthy baby. However, if you’ve decided to breastfeed your baby, you aren’t done eating for two. In fact, what you eat and drink can drastically affect the nutritional content of your breastmilk, which is your baby’s primary diet over the next several months. Eating healthy also helps to keep your own energy level up – which will become very important once you discover how much work it takes to care for a newborn.
A nutritious, well-balanced diet is critical for breastfeeding moms. However, just like pregnancy, there are certain foods you’ll need to avoid to protect the health of your baby. Your baby’s digestive system is far more sensitive than your own, and what you eat and drink can pass through your breastmilk. So choose wisely when filling your plate.
Avoid these five foods while breastfeeding:
While fish is rich in omega-3’s and considered a heart-healthy protein, some types of fish are ranked high in mercury and can do more harm than good. To protect your baby, avoid king mackerel, shark, swordfish, tilefish, marlin and orange roughy, as these contain too much mercury for your baby to handle.
Parsley, sage, and peppermint
Certain spices and herbs can sabotage your breastfeeding experience. Parsley, sage and peppermint are classified as anti-galactagogues, which means they can decrease your breast milk production. Small or moderate amounts of these herbs are fine, just don’t consume excessive amounts.
Common food allergens
It is not uncommon for your baby to display a sensitivity to certain foods. This can present itself as excessive gas, diarrhea, fussiness or a rash. It is a good idea to watch out for common food allergens such as cow’s milk, eggs, soy and peanuts. Scale back or eliminate these foods if you suspect they are causing problems in your baby.
That glass of wine or evening cocktail may sound like a good idea after a long day, but the effects can make their way to your new baby. No level of alcohol in your breast milk is safe. In fact, alcohol in your breastmilk can impair development and cause other problems, as your baby’s liver is simply too small and immature to process this type of adult beverage. If you want to have a drink, take the necessary precautions such as pumping your milk for a certain timeframe before nursing. Note that it can take up to three hours for alcohol to clear from breastmilk.
You may be desperate for that morning cup of coffee or afternoon chocolate treat to keep you going as a new mom. While you don’t have to avoid caffeine altogether, it is important to keep in mind that caffeine-containing foods and drinks can negatively affect your baby. As you sip on that hot coffee to stay awake, you should know that you may also be keeping your baby awake. Small amounts of caffeine can slip into breastmilk and cause irritability and sleep troubles in your infant.
At North Pointe OB/GYN, we have a team of physicians that are dedicated to caring for women at all stages of pregnancy, birth and post-partum. This includes helping moms adopt healthy habits for an optimal breastfeeding experience. For more do’s and don’ts for nursing moms, please contact our Cumming office today.