4 Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding
After speaking to many mothers, and after having witnessed it in the first place, I find there is a great emphasis of what women should cut off their diet to prevent their babies from having colics, or gut issues in general.
I don’t want to spoil it for you, but there is very small evidence out there (none), that eliminating foods from your diet is ultimately beneficial for your bubba; I do honestly find that these suggestions, unless backed up by further testings, can be quite detrimental for a mother’s wellbeing.
I, for instance, was advised to stop eating soy, nuts, legumes, and milk, when my 3 months old baby was crying for no reason. Being a vegetarian, it was one of the most stressful advice I could have been given, and it caused me to hyper-focus on food while losing too much weight. In the meantime, my baby kept on crying. At around 6 months of age, she stopped the never-ending unexplained teary session, and by then I had already re-introduced all those “evil” foods.
Mothers (and most women in general) are fixer; the cry of a baby can raise the level of cortisol in any human being, and we just want to do whatever we can to make it stop. It is instinctive, we can work on that, but we also have to accept it is a challenge we will need to deal with for the rest of our lives.
My baby wasn’t reacting to soy or to my beloved Dahl, she was simply going through a lot. Her brain was developing, for the first time she could hear sounds and see people, her body was growing, internally and externally. She had to learn how to poop and pee by herself, and she had to figure out how to ask for food, cuddles, and warmth whenever she needed them. Nothing was wrong, she was just a communicator (and she still is).
The Department of Health of the Australian Government describes colic as excessive, frequent crying in a baby who appears to be otherwise healthy and well fed. It affects about one in five babies, and it is still poorly understood.
“Crying is normal in babies. At six to eight weeks, babies normally cry for two to three hours a day. But babies with colic will cry inconsolably for several hours at a time and it’s often worse in the evenings.
Colic usually begins within the first few weeks of life and peaks at around 6 to 8 weeks. It often stops by the time the baby is 4 months old, and by 6 months at the latest.”
This is just to underline the fact that colics are poorly understood, and we will discuss how to tackle them without having to stop adding milk to your tea.
Having said that, there are still some foods that should be avoided or limited while breastfeeding:
It is normally safer to avoid alcohol altogether when breastfeeding, and especially for the first three to six months. After that, it can be enjoyed as an occasional treat (1 glass of wine OR 1 beer OR 1 cider). If you decide to drink alcohol, do it while you are breastfeeding, as it takes a couple of hours for any type of alcoholic beverage to be digested by our bodies. For total peace of mind, express and store the milk beforehand, and give that to your baby for his next feed.
Caffeine limits vary widely, but it is better not to exceed 200 mg of caffeine per day. It can be found in 2 small Lattes or in 1 strong Long Black, or 4 cups of black tea. Be also mindful that caffeine is found in cola, chocolate, medications, and many different pre-packaged foods (read the labels).
Caffeine act as a diuretic, momentarily increases the level of cortisol, leaches calcium out of the system, and it can deplete the body of a tired mother even further. Enjoy your cup in the morning, always followed by water and some foods.
Foods that seem to create a pattern
As I said above, a baby’s crying is likely not related to something you’ve eaten. Babies go through leaps, growth spur and immense changes within a very small window of time. If you do find that your child isn’t growing, has a rash, blood in the stool, is congested and has dry skin, that’s when I would talk to a doctor and trial an elimination diet.
The most likely culprits are protein foods such as dairy, soy, egg white, peanuts, and fish.
What you can do is avoid the food (diary takes approximately 2 weeks to clear from the system), and then introduce it again. If you feel there is a connection between your baby being unwell and what you are eating, you may want to avoid that particular food for a few months.
There are way too many medications out there, and focusing on every class of medications is completely beyond the scope of this article. Bear in mind that all medications are absorbed by our system, and some of them pass through the breastmilk. Some classes of medications are deemed unsafe during pregnancy and lactation, and it is always important to talk to your doctor or specialist, before taking them.
What is instead fine to do:
Being vegan or vegetarian
Especially if you were following those diets during pregnancy or even before getting pregnant. A balanced vegetarian or vegan diet can be extremely beneficial for a recovering mother and her baby. Doesn’t matter what people say; simply talk to a nutritionist to make sure your diet is on point.
Your breast milk carries the flavor of the foods you eat. So by enjoying a varied breastfeeding diet and exposing your baby to different tastes, he might end up liking those flavors later down the line.
Check this blog post to find the top nourishing tips for breastfeeding
And If you are dealing with a “colicky” baby, before eliminating food groups from your diet, try the following suggestions, and accept the fact that babies cry. Some of them…a LOT.
• Hold your baby during a crying episode, and wrap them in a comfy blanket
• Keep calm and talk gently to your baby.
• Follow a routine of feeds and sleeps.
• Check your baby doesn’t need a feed or a nappy change.
• Avoid overstimulating your baby around bed/nap time
• Try to soothe your baby before it’s too late
• Move gently around your baby, and avoid scaring him/her
• Try soothing techniques such as baby massage, gentle rocking or patting, or a warm bath.
• Offer a dummy.
• Talk to a doctor or other health professional when in doubt