Information on Eating What You Like


We’ve all heard the stories about how a breastfeeding mom can’t eat chocolate, spicy foods or have a glass of wine. After months of pregnancy, who needs another set of restrictions! So let’s sort myth from truth:

Myth: There are many foods you cannot eat while you are breastfeeding.

Truth: There is no food which must routinely be avoided while breastfeeding. There are some babies which do exhibit sensitivity to something their mom has eaten. The best approach is to eat your normal (balanced) diet, including whatever foods you like. Then if there is gassiness and fussiness that seem to have no other source, eliminate suspect foods one at a time.

Myth: You must drink milk to make milk.

Truth: A breastfeeding mother needs fluids and calcium. These do not have to come in the same package. So if you don’t like to drink milk, don’t worry about it. Make sure you get your calcium from other sources and drink plenty of other fluids.

If you yourself have a milk allergy or a lactose intolerance, it may be slightly more likely that your baby will develop sensitivity to cow’s milk and milk products. In this case, it’s even more important for you to breastfeed your baby as long as possible. Bovine protein is not the same as breastmilk protein and the longer you can delay your baby’s exposure to cow’s milk, the less likely he will be to develop that allergy.

Myth: If your baby is fussy, it is probably because of something you ate.

Truth: This is partly true, but I would re-phrase it: There are a lot of reasons your baby can be fussy. Something you ate may be one reason, but it is not the top reason, and it gets blamed far more often than it should.

Here are some of the foods that most often get blamed for causing problems:

  • Beans and cabbage
    Any food that tends to make you gassy, might make your baby uncomfortable.
  • Chocolate
    The gremlin in chocolate is a substance that acts like caffeine. Usually there’s not enough to really be a problem — unless you are planning to down a whole box of chocolates at a sitting!
  • Coffee
    Caffeine is the problem here. Caffeine can make your baby irritable and dehydrate you. It is a good idea to limit your caffeine intake, but usually not necessary to completely swear off.
  • Tea
    Treat tea with caffeine like coffee: in moderation. Herbal teas are sometimes used to enhance milk supply or diminish milk supply depending on the herb mix, so be sure you know what you are drinking. With all teas, the strength of the brew is a factor.
  • Fruits
    If you eat a large volume of fruit (don’t you love it when strawberries first come in season?), there might be some effect on the baby. Just back off a little.
  • Alcohol
    Alcohol passes into your blood stream and into your milk supply quickly. It also leaves quickly. So it is ok to have a drink once in a while. The key is moderation and timing. It would be better to nurse, then have a glass of wine, than the other way around. If you have over-indulged, figure 1-2 hours per ounce of alcohol for it to clear from your milk. Remember, you still need to empty your breasts as usual, even if it means “pumping and dumping” a time or two.

All in all, breastfeeding is usually not a time to worry about the foods you eat. Eat well for you, drink to thirst and let moderation be your guide.

© COPYRIGHT 2012, Bosom Buddies, Inc. Lone Tree, CO 80124