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Foods to Avoid during Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful experiences a mother can have with her baby. However, you should remember that You are what you eat, and so is the milk! If you are nursing your baby, the quantity and quality of your milk will depend largely on your diet. If you take proper care of your daily diet, you will be able to increase lactation; and if you eat the right foods and avoid foods that can cause allergies or stomach problems in the baby, your milk quality will improve and your baby will stay healthy.
There are lot of conflicting advice, traditional and modern, and you should weight them properly after knowing the facts. Here are some food items that you should avoid while you are breastfeeding your baby.
In India, consumption of alcohol by women is not as huge as in the western countries. However, as a caution you should note that if you are a moderate or frequent consumer of alcohol, it can likely pose a risk for your baby. Possible side effects of regular consumption of alcohol by mothers are drowsiness, deep sleep, weakness and abnormal weight gain in babies. Alcohol can also affect neurological development of baby if it gets into mother’s breast milk.
If you wish to go for a drink just to get relaxed, it is better you try something without alcohol, such as a relaxing bath, or a soothing massage or a cup of chamomile tea.
Fish and Shellfish
Fish in a mother’s diet may not cause fussiness or gas in the baby, but the mercury found in fish can find its way into breast milk. You are therefore advised to restrict to fish that have small amounts of mercury levels such as – Salmon (Rawas), canned light Tuna, Herring (Hilsa) or Pomfret. During breastfeeding you should avoid fish such as Shark (Mori), Swordfish (Myli Meen) and Mackerel (Bangda) that have high mercury levels.
It is also important to know if you or a family member is allergic to shellfish. In other words, if your baby’s father has an allergy to shellfish, it is possible that your baby may be allergic to them too. So, you should be very careful about what you eat that can lead to allergic symptoms in your baby.
Coffee and Chocolate
When you drink a cup of coffee, part of the caffeine gets in the breast milk. As babies are not able to get rid of caffeine from their system as efficiently or quickly as adults can, too much caffeine in their body can lead to insomnia, irritation and restlessness. So, what can you do about it? Cut down on your coffee intake. Being the mother of a newborn baby is tiring, but a fussy baby who will not sleep nights can give you sleepless nights.
Which mom does not love to indulge in something sweet? If you are a nursing mother, however, you may want to cut down on chocolate. Like coffee, chocolate contains caffeine too. If you suspect that chocolate is the culprit making your baby fussy or sleepless, give it up for a few days and see if it makes a difference. If you see a change in the baby’s behavior, then it is better to cut down on chocolate.
Citrus Fruits and Juices
Sipping a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice is good for hydrating your body, as you need extra fluids to maintain your milk supply; however, certain compounds present in citrus fruits and juices can cause irritation in your baby’s immature gastrointestinal tract, which may make the baby fussy, often leading to other side effects such as excessive spitting or diaper rash. You may reduce the consumption of citrus fruits and replace them with fruits like mango and papaya, which are also rich in vitamin C.
You should avoid fatty foods, fried foods, smoked foods, mayonnaise and mushrooms while breastfeeding. These foods can greatly alter the consistency, quality and safety of breast milk.
Spices and Garlic
Foods with a strong odor quickly release their active ingredients in the breast milk. As the baby is sensitive to new tastes and smells, it may refuse to drink milk in such cases. Spices can also cause discomfort in babies. So when breastfeeding, it is best to avoid onions, garlic and other spices.
Spices in mother’s diet can make some babies irritable and restless. Similarly, eating garlic can slightly alter the flavor of breast milk which babies may refuse to drink. In countries like India, spices and garlic are commonly used in most dishes and so traditionally, the moms are advised to go little down on spices or garlic but not eliminate them entirely to make babies get used to the flavor of adult foods. In Europe and USA, however, mothers are advised to cut down on spices or garlic in their diet.
Peanuts and Wheat Products
It is important to know if you and other family members suffer from food allergies. Proceed with caution before including products such as peanuts, wheat products (bread, pasta, sandwich) or dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese) in your diet. You may notice symptoms such as a rash, hives, eczema or wheezing, if the baby too is allergic to these foods.
To verify whether it is indeed sensitivity or allergy, you should try to eliminate these foods from your diet for two to three weeks. If your baby’s symptoms improve, or disappear completely, you’ve found the culprit that causes the allergy in your baby.
Mint and Parsley
Certain compounds in herbs like mint and parsley can reduce the amount of milk. You are therefore advised to stay away from these herbs, unless you want to stop milk production after weaning.