Figuring out how to breastfeed your first baby is tricky enough without thinking about your diet, but new moms should try their hardest to eat a healthy diet and use this list for the food and drinks that they might want to avoid or limit. If you have lower milk supply, then refer to our list of foods to boost lactation.
For help on navigating the tricky do’s and don’t of the breastfeeding diet, we turned to Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, a family physician in Lexington, KY and coauthor of The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year. She gave us this in-depth look at nine foods to limit or avoid and also gave us this dietary advice to use alongside the list:
Certain foods are okay to eat, as long as your baby can tolerate them. You might have to try a particular food to see how it affects your little one. If you’re eating it for the first time while nursing, it’s helpful to keep a food journal so you’ll know how it affects your baby.
1. Drinking Caffeine While Nursing
You might be looking forward to drinking more coffee and soda after your pregnancy, but don’t overdo it if you’re nursing! Caffeine enters your breast milk, and it can cause nursing babies to become irritable and make it harder for them to get to sleep.
If you feel that you can’t cut out caffeine altogether, try to limit your consumption and drink a small amount of any caffeine-containing beverages after nursing, rather than before.
2. Drinking Alcohol While Nursing
Drinking an occasional glass of wine isn’t anything to worry about, but drinking more than one drink per day isn’t ideal for you or your baby. When nursing moms drink large amounts of alcohol, their babies can experience excessive drowsiness, weakness, and abnormal weight gain.
3. Breastfeeding and Mercury
Eating fatty fish such as salmon in moderation is good for you and your baby. But certain fish, especially large fish, are likely to be high in mercury, including swordfish, shark, tuna filets, and tilefish.
4. Peppermint and Milk Supply
If you love peppermint candies and peppermint tea, it’s wise to limit your consumption till after you’ve stopped nursing. Excessive consumption might reduce your milk supply.
5. Spicy Foods and Breastfeeding
Some nursing moms can get away with eating Tabasco sauce on everything and still have perfectly happy, comfortable babies. But others notice that after eating a spicy meal their babies are irritable and fussy for hours.
6. Citrus Fruits
Oranges and pineapples are delicious and nutritious, but they might upset your baby’s stomach if you consume too many of these fruits or fruit juices while you’re nursing.
7. Broccoli, Cabbage, and Cauliflower
These veggies are packed with nutrition, but they might cause extra gassiness and fussiness in your nursing baby after you eat them.
8. Garlic and Breastmilk
Garlic. You might love the flavor of garlic, but your baby might not care for the taste of garlic-flavored breast milk. If your little one fusses or grimaces while nursing after you’ve eaten a garlicky dish, you’ll know it wasn’t a hit with both of you.
9. Peanuts and Tree Nuts
If you or other members of your family have a history of nut allergies, it might be wise to avoid eating nuts while breastfeeding. Some babies can develop a rash, hives, or wheezing after consuming breast milk from moms who consumed nuts. If you or members of your family have a history of allergies to wheat, shellfish, eggs, soy or dairy milk, talk to your doctor before consuming them.