It might be the most natural thing in the world, but breastfeeding isn’t as straightforward as you initially might think. Not only is it sometimes more difficult than many new moms imagined, but there’s also a lot of things that need to be considered in order to ensure baby is getting the nutrients they need.
Did you know for example, that everything you eat and drink, continues to get passed down to your baby via your breastmilk? This means there’s certain foods and drinks you’ll want to avoid, and some you’ll want to stock up on.
To make it easier, below you’ll discover which foods you should be eating and which should be avoided to give your little one the best start in life.
Which Foods Should You Be Eating?
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually need to make any major changes to your diet when breastfeeding. A good, standard healthy diet is all that is required. However, the foods below are going to help you to feel better, which in turn will help make motherhood that little bit easier.
Fruits And Vegetables – Fruits and vegetables should be a large part of any diet, not just when you’re breastfeeding. Fresh is often considered better in terms of nutrition, however frozen and tinned varieties are also good for the body. The only restriction here, is fruit juice. Try to avoid drinking over 150ml of juice (unsweetened) each day.
Protein Based Foods – If you’re looking to keep your energy levels topped up, protein based foods are highly recommended. These include foods such as nuts, seeds, chicken, eggs and fish. These types of foods help to keep you feeling fuller for longer, ensuring you don’t feel the need to snack on unhealthy junk foods.
Fiber Based Foods – Did you know that after giving birth, you could have trouble with constipation and bowel issues? Therefore, increasing your fiber intake isn’t just going to be good for baby, it’s good for you too! Eat plenty of wholegrain products, lentils and pulses to receive good levels of daily fiber.
Fluids – To encourage healthy breastmilk production, it helps to ensure you’re drinking plenty of fluids. The best choices include semi-skimmed or skimmed milk and water.
So, as you can see there aren’t any specific foods listed and that’s because the best thing for baby is for you to eat a standard healthy diet. There are no specific foods that are going to make a significant difference to the health of your little one. Well, at least not in terms of positive benefits. There are however, some foods and liquids that you’ll want to avoid which are known to cause negative effects on baby’s health.
Which Foods Should You Avoid?
There may be no strict requirements on the foods you should be eating, but there are a few things you’ll want to avoid. These include:
Peppermint – Although it’s not something many of us frequently consume anyway, it’s worth mentioning peppermint should be avoided when breastfeeding. This is because it is known to reduce the milk supply, leading to potentially serious feeding problems.
Even peppermint tea should be avoided according to experts, as this can also cause baby to develop skin problems, as well as diarrhea. However, some mothers do report that the tea helps them to reduce pain felt after breastfeeding. It is weaker than standard peppermint so you would need to drink quite a lot of it in order for it to start affecting the amount of milk you produce.
Alcohol – You gave up alcohol for nine months and now you can’t even enjoy it while you’re breastfeeding? Well, you can, but only in very limited quantities. A glass or two of wine each week isn’t going to negatively affect your little one. However, it’s best to drink it after breastfeeding, rather than right before.
Many moms don’t realize that the amount of alcohol which finds its way into the breastmilk, is the same as the blood alcohol content. So, if you do drink excessively when breastfeeding, it will have a serious negative effect on baby.
Caffeine – Similar to alcohol, caffeine should also be limited. You don’t have to give it up completely (how else are you going to survive the common sleep deprivation?), but high levels of caffeine can cause some pretty nasty side effects in babies. For example, one problem it can lead to which you’ll definitely want to avoid, is sleep troubles. If baby consumes a large amount of caffeine, just like adults they’re not going to be able to get to sleep at night. This alone is a perfect reason to cut down!
However, be aware that caffeine isn’t only found in coffee. It can be hiding out in a lot of products such as cold medicines, energy drinks and even paracetamol. So, when working out your caffeine intake, be sure to take into account anything it could be hiding in.
So how much is too much? Well, experts recommend sticking to just one or two cups of coffee a day.
One thing you may be surprised to find missing from the list is fish. It’s a common belief that fish should be avoided due to its mercury content. However, the majority of fish don’t actually contain enough mercury to be harmful. So, fish such as tinned tuna and salmon can be eaten as part of a healthy diet, but no more than twice per week.
You can confirm this with a doctor however, as they may suggest cutting back on fish while breastfeeding for numerous reasons. It’s always better to seek professional advice before making any changes to your diet.
Foods You MAY Need To Avoid
We’ve covered the food groups you’ll want to focus on and the top foods you’ll want to avoid. But is there anything else you should be aware of in terms of your diet?
There are some foods which can cause problems for baby, but they do affect each infant a little differently. For example, some moms report having issues due to consuming spicy, strong tasting foods.
Other foods you may want to be wary of include peanuts, wheat and dairy as these can cause allergic reactions. However, none of these foods are guaranteed to cause issues, it’s just worth being aware of the potential problems they can cause.
Overall, despite popular belief, there isn’t really any evidence suggesting diet plays a major role in breastfeeding issues. Apart from the foods mentioned above to be avoided, you can eat almost anything in moderation. It’s all about healthy eating, but if you are concerned it is worth talking to your GP or pediatrician to see what they recommend.