Everyone talks about what should you eat when breastfeeding but a lot of us also wonder what not to eat while breastfeeding.
Over 80% of women in the U.S. begin breastfeeding their babies at birth! So, nursing is a main concern for most new and expecting moms. If you plan to breastfeed, you’ll want to make sure you start your milk-making journey on the right note.
Almost immediately after birth, your care provider will encourage you to bond with your baby through skin to skin contact. During this special time, you are also encouraged to practice latching and begin breastfeeding. As you continue breastfeeding, you’ll want to pay special attention to what you’re putting in your body so you’re milk is as nutrient-dense as possible for your little one. What you eat while breastfeeding matters.
To boost your milk quality, it’s equally important to focus on the foods you should eat while breastfeeding and the foods you should refrain from consuming. Here’s a guide to understanding the foods you should avoid or cut out altogether while breastfeeding your baby, and we’ll help you understand why.
What Foods to avoid while breastfeeding
There are two main foods that nursing women should limit or remove from their diets completely: alcohol and fish.
Alcohol: Just as alcohol significantly alters your body’s processes, it can also impact your little one. Alcohol can be passed through a mom’s breast milk to her baby, which would result in dire health consequences, like irregular brain development.
There is no level of alcohol that’s safe for a baby to consume through breast milk, so be sure that alcohol is completely out of your system before feeding your little one.
Of course, the best way to safeguard child from the damage caused by alcohol is to avoid the substance entirely.
Fish: Eating seafood can provide the body with critical nutrients, like omega-3 fatty acids, which can reap benefits for mom and baby. However, fish also may contain the harmful chemical mercury.
An infant’s developing nervous system can be put at risk when exposed to mercury. If you choose to incorporate fish in your breastfeeding diet, be sure to eat fish with low levels of mercury and stay up-to-date on local water advisories.
Monitor your breastfeeding diet for irritating foods
Typically, your baby will let you know if something you’re eating is upsetting their tummy. If your little one becomes fussy, breaks out in a rash, or develops other sick-like symptoms after nursing, they may be allergic or irritate to something in your diet.
Common allergens that can be passed through breast milk are:
- Dairy milk
Other foods that can irritate a baby’s belly include:
If you suspect that something is upsetting your little one’s system, try keeping a food diary. If you find a correlation between their agitation and a certain food, simply eliminate that ingredient from your diet.
Be sure to consult a professional if your baby is continuously distressed after nursing or if they develop severe symptoms in reaction to your breast milk.
Foods To Eat While Breastfeeding
Now that we’ve talked about some foods to avoid, let’s talk about some foods you can enjoy during the breastfeeding period! In addition to avoiding certain foods, it’s important to focus on eating foods that contain the essential nutrients your body needs during this time.
The good news is that many of these foods are super tasty and can easily be incorporated in to tons of yummy recipes. Make sure to check out our Breastfeeding Diet Guide for a complete list of nutrients you need during the postpartum period, as well as some tips and tricks for incorporating them in your diet!
- Nut butter
- Sweet potatoes
- Chia seeds
- Leafy greens
- Nuts & seeds
Extra Breastfeeding tips
Although specific foods can trigger an upset stomach, there are other ways to keep your baby's tummy calm while breastfeeding. Here are some tried and true methods for successful nursing:
- Burp frequently to relieve gas pains
- Keep baby sitting upright for half an hour after feeding to promote digestion
- Ensure proper latching while nursing for optimal feeding
- Bathe your baby in warm water to soothe an upset tummy
Whether you’re a new mom or on child number three, it’s common to have questions about breastfeeding because every pregnancy and child is different! Make sure to reach out to your family, other moms, or your care provider for support during this time — because when you’re feeling your best, you’ll be in better shape to care for your little one.
What foods have you been eating while nursing? Let us know in the comments below! And be sure to tag us on instagram @lovemajka and #lovemajka if you try a breastfeeding recipe at home!
Looking for something you can eat while breastfeeding? Check out our one-week breastfeeding diet guide! This free resources if full of 22 recipes to fuel your motherhood.