Amy's Corner. our lactation consultant answers your questions about nursing.

Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding: What is Your Recommendation for the Best Breastfeeding Diet?

Wondering which foods to avoid while breastfeeding?  What is the ideal breastfeeding diet?  This seems to be the most frequently asked question by new moms.  I have found that nursing moms – both past and present – often share food “no-nos” with one another.  Well I have some good news for you:  the real fact of the matter is that most of the time, breastfed babies tolerate almost all kinds of foods!

Of course you do want to be conscious of maintaining a healthy breastfeeding diet to give your body the energy it needs to produce milk, and to pass along vital nutrients to your baby through your breast milk.  This means plenty of lean protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy products (or dairy substitutes).  You also may need up to 500 additional calories a day while breastfeeding.  What you eat may affect the taste of your breast milk, which some people believe can appeal to your baby’s appetite for solids down the road.  Now that’s a ringing endorsement for variety in your diet!

Some medical professionals and organizations such as Dr. Oz and The Mayo Clinic do put warnings on certain types of foods, including fish with higher levels of mercury; excessive vitamin-C; extremely spicy foods; nuts; gas-inducing vegetables like cabbage and broccoli; caffeine; and alcohol.  The recommendation on most of these foods is only to limit intake and be conscious of your baby’s sensitive digestive system.  The debate about alcohol may be the most controversial of the list. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that one or two drinks per week is fine, while the March of Dimes recommends against any alcohol consumption while breastfeeding.

Leading Lady BreastfeedingIn my opinion, other than alcohol, unless you have a strong family history of food aversions or allergies, it is probably not necessary to avoid certain foods.  My suggestion for determining whether you need to refrain from eating certain foods is to simply watch your baby.  Look for whether your baby is excessively fussy or inconsolable; tends to spit up often and if he is spitting up curdles; tends to get a diaper rash or any other rashes or blotchy skin patches; and gets a stuffy nose.  If you do notice any of these symptoms, you may want to explore decreasing or eliminating certain foods.

If you do notice an issue, the most common foods to avoid while breastfeeding are dairy products, eggs, wheat and citrus.  Before you decide to eliminate or restrict foods from your diet, you may want to contact a lactation consultant, LaLeche League leader or Breastfeeding USA counselor.

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