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Monday, February 24, 2014
Article # 578. Foods to avoid while Breastfeeding
When you drink coffee (or soda or tea), some of
ends up in your breast milk. Because babies aren’t able to excrete caffeine as
quickly or efficiently as adults, too much in their systems may lead to
irritation, crankiness, and sleeplessness. The solution? Cut back on coffee. As
tired as you are, a fussy baby who won’t sleep just makes matters worse. At
minimum, try putting off your cup of coffee until just after a nursing session.
Proceed with caution if chocolate is your sweet
indulgence of choice. Just like coffee and soda, chocolate contains caffeine.
(Though not as much—a 1-ounce serving of dark chocolate contains between 5 and
35 mg of caffeine; a cup of coffee generally contains up to 135 mg of
caffeine). If you suspect chocolate is the culprit behind your baby’s
fussiness, eliminate it from your diet for a few days. If you see a change in
your baby’s behavior—for the better—continue to abstain or cut back.
Certain compounds found in citrus fruits and
juices may irritate a still-immature GI tract, leading to fussiness,
and even diaper rash
in some babies. If cutting down on citrus seems like a good idea for Baby’s
sake, compensate by adding other vitamin
C-rich foods to the menu, including papaya and mango.
It’s not the occasional glass of wine with
dinner that you need to worry about. One drink or less per day likely poses
little risk for babies, experts agree. But if your drinking habits fall into
the moderate or heavy category, you are treading into murky waters. According
to the American Academy of Pediatrics, possible side effects of breastfeeding
and habitual consumption of large amounts of alcohol include: drowsiness, deep
sleep, weakness, and abnormal weight gain in the infant, and the possibility of
decreased milk-ejection reflex in the mother.
Some nursing moms can add extra jalapenos to
everything and still have completely content babies. But you might find that
just a dash of pepper is enough to make your baby irritated and fussy for
hours. How to spice it up food without causing Baby discomfort? Look for
flavors that add zest without the heat. Add a splash of lime juice on your
chicken, rather than hot sauce. If you need to skip the hot peppers in your
stir fry, toss in some extra ginger for heat—ginger is one spice that may
actually soothe your little one’s tummy.
That wonderfully warm slice of garlic bread you
just inhaled might not taste so wonderful to your baby. Eating garlicky foods
often leads to breast milk taking on the slight flavor of garlic (garlic odor
can enter milk up to two hours after a meal). Some babies may grimace or fuss
at the breast if they detect garlic’s telltale aroma.
Do you, or other members of your family, have food
allergies? Proceed with caution before including peanut products in
your diet. According to La Leche League International (LLLI), if you have a
family medical history of allergy, it is worth being careful about your diet
and avoiding known allergens, like peanuts and other tress nuts, during
If eating a sandwich or plate of pasta before a
nursing session results in your baby developing such symptoms as inconsolable
crying, obvious pain, or bloody stools, it could point to a wheat allergy. To
check for an allergy or sensitivity, eliminate wheat-containing foods from your
diet for two to three weeks. If your baby’s symptoms improve, or completely
disappear, you have probably found your culprit—and will need to continue
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Ditch the dairy? It’s common knowledge that many
babies are intolerant to cow’s milk-based formula. But when you drink milk or
eat other dairy products (yogurt, ice cream, and cheese), these same allergens
enter your breast milk. According to LLLI, symptoms of an allergy or
sensitivity to dairy include colic and vomiting, sleeplessness, and eczema—dry,
rough, red skin patches which can progress to open, weeping sores
Allergies to corn are common among young
children, but how can you be certain your baby’s discomfort and rashiness are
really due to those tasty tacos you had for dinner? If you are not quite sure
if corn is the food you need to eliminate, start keeping a detailed food diary.
Be specific about what you ate (write “corn chips” instead of the generic
“chips”) and note any allergy symptoms experienced by your baby that day. If
you notice a pattern of baby’s colic or periods of crying increasing after
you’ve eaten corn-based foods, it is probably a good idea to start a corn
Experts have found that the stronger the family
history is for a particular food allergy, the greater the risk and the earlier
the infant is likely to show symptoms. In other words, if your child’s father
has a shellfish allergy, but you have no problem with shrimp and lobster, you
still might want to give shellfish a pass while breastfeeding.
Egg allergies (usually in the form of a
sensitivity to egg whites) are common in young children. But because eggs lurk
in all sorts of foods, from bread and snack foods to ice cream, it may be a
difficult allergy to pinpoint. Another tactic for breastfeeding moms who
suspect their child has a food allergy is to eliminate all of the most
allergenic foods at once (dairy, soy, egg whites, wheat, peanuts and tree nuts,
and shellfish). After two weeks, each allergenic food is added back one by one,
allowing up to four days in between to evaluate the child for rashes and other
Many children who have dairy intolerances also
show signs of a soy allergy, bad news if you thought you could swap out that
morning glass of moo juice for a cup of soy milk. If you suspect soy in your
diet is causing problems for your baby, look at the kind of soy you are eating.
Packing down power bars? Soy protein isolate, the processed form of soy found
in power bars and protein shakes, may be more likely to trigger sensitivities.
On the other hand, including foods made with fermented soy in your diet, such
as miso, may be accepted by your baby with fewer problems.
It might not cause fussiness or even gas, but
because mercury found
in fish can find its way into breast milk, the same rules for fish
consumption during pregnancy still apply when you are breastfeeding.
According to the FDA, nursing women should eat up to 12 ounces (two average
meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.
Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned
light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish. Fish to avoid while you are
breastfeeding include shark, swordfish,
king mackerel, and tilefish.
Love the soothing power of peppermint tea?
Unfortunately, certain compounds in the minty herb may reduce your milk supply,
especially if you guzzle several cups a day, according to herbalists
(peppermint tea is often used as a holistic remedy to help halt milk production
once weaning is complete).
Related to the mint family, parsley is another herb
that may reduce your milk supply if ingested in large quantities. If you are a
fan of herbal remedies, double check to make sure any supplements you take
don’t contain significant amounts of parsley. However, dressing up your dinners
with a garnish of parsley, or eating the occasional bowl of tabouleh, probably
won’t affect your breast milk supply.