After nine long months of carefully choosing what you eat and taking care of your body, it’s still not the time to let loose. You still need to watch what you eat and drink as you’re the sole source of food for your baby.
During the period of breastfeeding, what you eat has a considerable impact on your baby’s health and development. You need to ensure that you’re eating a nutrition dense diet that is rich in essential nutrients so that your body is able to produce the required breast milk levels and breast milk quality for your baby.
Always remember that every baby is different. And each baby reacts to foods differently. Keep a check on how your baby reacts if you have introduced something new in your diet. Discuss any doubts with your pediatrician.
Here are some foods that might cause problems to the baby:
If coffee was your beverage of choice before you got pregnant, then you’ll need to wait some months more before you start downing cups of coffee.
This is because of the caffeine present in coffee. Your baby’s body is not yet developed enough to properly process caffeine. This might result in the baby getting sleepless and cranky.
Some studies also suggest that excessive caffeine intake during breastfeeding results in a decrease in the iron levels in your breast milk. Hence, don’t consume too much coffee when you’re breastfeeding. If you can’t cut coffee out completely, restrict your consumption to not more than 2 cups a day.
- Mercury rich fish
Fish is an excellent source of protein, nutrients and omega-3 fatty acids. However, the same attention and care you took during pregnancy needs to be taken when you’re breastfeeding, as some varieties of fish have a high level of mercury that has been linked to nervous and developmental disorders in babies.
Hence, if you do eat fish while breastfeeding, make sure that you consume fish that is low on mercury, like cod, catfish and salmon. If you eat fish from a local river, make sure you check its freshness so that you and your baby are not in danger of a food borne infection.
- Citrus Fruits
Lime and oranges among others are a good source of Vitamin C. However, they can prove to be a bit too acidic for the soft GI tracts of babies. If you consume these fruits in excess, you might be making your baby more susceptible to a diaper rash, fussiness and general discomfort. Try replacing citrus fruits with other foods rich in vitamin-C like papaya, pineapple, etc.
- Dairy Products (For allergic babies)
Milk, cheese and yogurt have been known to cause allergies and gas in some babies, as they contain lactose and other possible allergens. When you consume dairy products, these allergens make their way to your baby via the breast milk.
If your baby has eczema and other skin related conditions, or if you have any history of allergy or discomfort with dairy products, do not consume them at all. If you observe discomfort in your baby, take a break from conventional dairy products and replace them with other sources of protein like chicken.
Chocolate is often regarded as a great comfort food. However, if you’re breastfeeding then that might not be the case. Just like your coffee contains caffeine, chocolate consists of large doses of theobromine which has a similar effect on babies and can lead to excessive crankiness. Keep a close watch on how your baby reacts after you have included chocolate in your diet. If you notice a significant increase in restlessness and cranky behaviour, it’s time to stop having that bar of chocolate.
- Parsley and Peppermint (Pudina)
Most herbs are beneficial for you and your baby’s well-being when you’re nursing, but parsley and peppermint do not belong to that category. These herbs are known to negatively affect breast milk levels. Hence, it is advisable to closely monitor the consumption of these herbs, especially during the growth spurt phase of your baby when you’ll need to produce more than normal levels of breast milk. You can continue to incorporate other herbs like fenugreek (methi) in your daily diet.
Consuming alcohol while nursing has been clinically proven to have negative effects on the baby. These effects range from development disorders to nervous impairment.
You can surely have an occasional drink or two but make sure that you don’t consume alcohol a few hours before you feed your baby. Moderation is the key and regular alcohol consumption is widely regarded by experts as a strict no-no.
Avoid garlic for the same reason that you wouldn’t want to talk to somebody who has just eaten garlic – the smell. Your baby can sense the pungent smell of garlic in your milk and he/she can then be reluctant to nurse or will make faces while nursing.
If you notice any of these behaviours, try thinking about the last time you had garlic. If it was fairly recent, then you’ve found your culprit!
That’s quite a list. But don’t worry, as mentioned at the beginning, each baby reacts differently to different foods. Your best bet is to keep an eye on how the baby reacts to your eating habits. If you notice any undesired behaviour, make some changes in your diet and then observe the baby’s behaviour again. This way, you will be able to eliminate the foods your baby doesn’t prefer from your diet and make it a much easier and happier journey for both of you!