Many mothers have concerns about their diets while they are breastfeeding. These are valid concerns. While you do not have to be as careful about any diet while you are breastfeeding as you did while you were pregnant, it is still important to watch what you eat. In fact, scientific studies have demonstrated that there are still a number of things you should avoid while you are breastfeeding.
If there are any food allergies on either side of the baby’s family, it is best to avoid foods that contain the allergen at all costs. Microscopic particles of food can, and do, leak through the baby’s intestines into his blood stream. If there is an allergic reaction, symptoms can include diarrhea, runny nose, or a sleepless baby. The good news, though, is that breastfeeding lessens the chance that your baby will be allergic to those foods in later life. For the first several months, though, it might be a good idea to avoid highly allergenic foods like diary, wheat, citrus, corn, nuts, and shellfish. The baby might even be sensitive to the vitamin supplements you are taking. If you have concerns, see your doctor.
The research on alcohol consumption during breastfeeding is a bit mixed. Many studies say that occasional light drinking is okay during breastfeeding. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatricians says alcohol is only harmful during breastfeeding when consumed in large quantities. However, there are a number of other studies that suggest that alcohol, in any quantity, is absolutely unsafe for your nursing baby. It is a good idea to check with your pediatrician or lactation consultant on their opinion before you consume any alcoholic beverages.
The research on caffeine during breastfeeding is also mixed. Most studies show that small to moderate consumption of caffeine is completely harmless to the baby. In fact, most professionals suggest that a mother can take in up to five five-ounce cups of coffee each day without affecting the baby’s system. However, you should remember that caffeine appears in many things you do not consider. It may be in your soda or the candy bar you had for a snack. As a result, it might be a good idea to carefully monitor your intake. Caffeine can have a cumulative effect on your baby. It can cause them to seem over stimulated and fussy. Moreover, smoking can augment this effect. If you think your baby is having a reaction to the caffeine you consume, try cutting it from your diet for a day or two.
There are no particular foods that you must avoid during pregnancy. Many people will tell you that raw vegetables will make your baby gassy. They might also tell you that eating spicy foods will upset your baby’s stomach. This is only true to some degree. Remember that breastfeeding mothers in other cultures consume these foods all of the time with no effect on their baby. If your baby seems fussy after you have eaten a food you don’t usually eat, try laying off of that food for a day or two before your reintroduce it.