Breastfeeding and Foods to Avoid

Mother and Baby eating at Home

For many women, there is a link between breastfeeding and foods to avoid or foods that can cause problems.

Breastfeeding Issues

Whether or not to breastfeed is a purely personal decision. There is no doubt, however, that the benefits of breastfeeding create a strong argument for nursing your baby. There are also many concerns that women have regarding breastfeeding. Some women worry about whether or not they will have enough milk. Others are concerned over the impact breastfeeding will have on other members of their family. Will they have enough time during the day to nurse their baby as often as needed? Will they find support from friends and family? Will they be able to continue nursing once they return to work?

All of these issues are certainly important, but breastfeeding successfully isn't as difficult as you might think. There are some key points to remember, however. For example, learning how to nurse your baby correctly can eliminate many of the problems that can occur during breastfeeding. Understanding how supply and demand affects your milk supply is another important issue. What many women don't anticipate, though, is the link between breastfeeding and foods to avoid or foods that can cause problems.

Understanding Breastfeeding and Foods to Avoid or Foods that can Cause Problems

While some women can eat virtually anything and never notice a correlation between their food and their babies' reactions to their breast milk, others have to pay attention to breastfeeding and foods to avoid or foods that can cause problems. Can breast milk be affected by the foods you eat? Absolutely! While you might think that your breast milk will taste the same regardless of what foods you ingest, breast milk can take on a variety of flavors depending upon what you've eaten.

Common Problem Foods

Baby discomfort

There's no tried and true method for determining foods to avoid except to try foods and to eliminate any that appear to cause your baby discomfort. However, there are several common problem foods that you can avoid from the start, including the following:

  • Spicy foods-Spicy foods made with hot peppers, garlic, curry, and even cinnamon can give your baby gas, although this isn't always the case.
  • Chocolate-If you are a "chocoholic," you may cringe at the thought of giving up chocolate for several months. Don't worry. You may not actually have to give up this sweet treat altogether, just eat it in moderation. Timing may help you as well. If you feel like giving in to that powerful craving, do so immediately after you nurse your baby. Since it might be several hours before you breastfeed her again, the chocolate may work through your system somewhat before your next nursing session.
  • Fruits-Don't overdo it on citrus fruits, like lemons, oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, etc. Other fruits, like cherries, can affect a baby's bowels as well.
  • Vegetables-There are a variety of vegetables that shouldn't cause any problems, but there are some that are more prone to create gas in baby's tummy, such as broccoli, cauliflower, onions, peppers, and cabbage.
  • Coffee/tea-You need that cup of java to start off the day, but again, don't overdo it. Too much caffeine can actually interfere with your little one's sleep. You might consider drinking a "lite" version of coffee, which has only half the caffeine.
  • Alcohol-An occasional drink is acceptable, but don't overindulge. Once you've had that glass of wine, wait at least a couple of hours before nursing or pumping.
  • Fish-While canned tuna is usually fine, you might want to avoid sushi and other fish that contain high levels of mercury.
  • Nuts-You may find that some types of nuts, like peanuts, cause your baby more digestive issues as well.

Finally, if you have any doubt about a food you are eating, try eliminating it for a few days to see if your baby's problems persist.

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Breastfeeding and Foods to Avoid