Last Updated on February 8, 2023 by Jada Glover
Many mamas find that they can eat whatever they may like during breastfeeding, and maybe you heard there are no foods to avoid when breastfeeding. The nutritional requirements for your baby will rely solely on breastmilk, and therefore you will need to maintain a healthy diet. If your baby is large and grows fast, the fat stores gained by you during pregnancy can be depleted quickly, meaning that you may have trouble eating good enough to maintain and develop sufficient amounts of milk.
You may have heard there are specific foods to avoid when breastfeeding. Even though it’s true that some strongly flavored foods like garlic can change the taste of your milk, many babies seem to enjoy the varieties of breast milk flavors. Occasionally, your baby may get cranky at the breast after you eat certain foods. If you notice this happening, simply avoid that particular food.
The most common offenders during breastfeeding include chocolate, spices, citrus fruits, garlic, chili, lime, gassy vegetables, and fruits with laxative type effects, such as prunes and cherries.
Start keeping a food journal to identify the problem foods. If your baby is experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may consider starting a food journal. Foods typically, it will pass through to your milk within 2-4 hours.
- Sore bottom
- Diaper rash
- Runny nose
- Weeping eyes
- Body rash
- Excessive crying, inconsolable
- Sleepless Baby
- Overly fussy
- Excessively gassy without relief
Common foods to avoid when breastfeeding that are known to cause allergies include:
- Cow’s Milk/Dairy
You can have a cup or two of coffee a day, although too much caffeine can interfere with your baby’s sleep and even make him or her cranky. Keep in mind, caffeine is found in many sodas, tea, and even over the counter type medicine as well. If your baby is bothered by caffeine you should avoid caffeine or restrict intake of it.
It’s okay to have an alcoholic beverage every now and then, although having more than one drink can increase your blood alcohol level, putting the alcohol into your breastmilk. Heavy drinking is known to harm the infant, as well as yourself. If you are breastfeeding, you should avoid alcohol or consume very small amounts at a time.
The excessive consumption of alcohol by the mother can result in irritability, sleeplessness, and increased feeding in the infant.
If you are planning to have more than one drink at a time, it’s best to wait two hours or more per drink before you resume any type of nursing or breastfeeding. There is no need to “pump and dump” unless your breasts are full and it’s time to feed your baby. While breastfeeding, any type of heavy drinking should be avoided.
There are herbs and foods that are considered anti-lactogenic and you should avoid in large quantities when breastfeeding. It may be an experimentation process to identify any that cause a decrease in supply or an irritated baby.
Foods like soda, coffee, black tea, and green tea elevate stress hormones in your body which can lead to the constriction of the capillaries in the breasts, inhibiting the communication of nerves and hormones.
Foods that are acidic, like the citrus juices, cause sensitive tissue to constrict leading to the restricted circulation of blood in the breasts, inhibiting the communication of nerves and hormones.
Cruciferous veggies like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower contain sulfur which can make breastmilk less tasty for some babies. And even more difficult to digest. Onion and garlic are in this same category although your baby may like the taste of your milk when eating garlic. If your baby drinks less milk because he recognizes a taste that led to stomach upset in the past, this may cause a decrease in supply.
Tip: Cooking cruciferous veggies with dill, cumin, and mustard seeds may improve the milk’s flavor and digestibility.
For more tips, recipes, and foods to avoid when breastfeeding, check out this guest blog I wrote on Foods and Herbs that Decrease Milk Supply.
There are herbs you’ll want to avoid in large quantities. A piece of candy here or there containing peppermint won’t likely affect your supply, but eating lots of these particular herbs may affect it.
- Lemon Balm
Before you actually avoid foods when breastfeeding, you should talk to your doctor or lactation specialist. If you avoid certain foods and it causes a nutritional imbalance. You may need to incorporate other foods to balance out your diet. Learn more in my Postpartum Weight Loss Program for Breastfeeding Moms.
By following a healthy diet and limiting your intake of the above, you’ll ensure that your baby gets the right nutrients during your time of breastfeeding. This stage of life is very important – and you want your baby to be thriving.