What Can You Eat and Not Eat While Breastfeeding?

What Can You Eat and Not Eat While Breastfeeding?

So, you’ve decided to breastfeed? We’d like to congratulate you on your decision since it can be much healthier than the alternative, which is bottle-feeding.

However, there are many things you should keep in mind if you’re going to breastfeed your little one, including your diet. As you know, the things that you’ll eat, even now during pregnancy, can have effects on your baby’s health.

Luckily for you, we’ve put together this guide to answer this simple question. What can you eat and not eat while breastfeeding?

Let’s dive in!

What You Can Eat While Breastfeeding

The number one piece of advice that any doctor will probably give you is to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. In this section, we’ll explore what you’re allowed to eat when you’re breastfeeding. Moreover, we’ll discuss what you should include in your meals.

 

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and veggies are essential for a breastfeeding mom. They include all sorts of nutrients that can be beneficial to your body as well as the baby’s.

Not to mention that they can relieve constipation, which a lot of mothers might face after giving birth.

Make sure that you eat about 2 cups of fruits per day, including:

  • Bananas
  • Mangoes
  • Cantaloupe
  • Oranges
  • Apricots

As for the veggies, you should eat about 2.5-3 cups every day to let your body absorb all the nutrients and antioxidants that vegetables contain. You can pick from:

  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Kale
  • Carrots

Naturally, all fruits and veggies can be included in your diet, so don’t limit your choice to the examples that we’ve mentioned.

Meat

You should eat about 65 grams of protein each day according to research. This means including meat in your diet, like beef, lamb, and organ meats such as liver meat.

However, you should stay away from processed meat:

  • Sausages
  • Hot dogs
  • Salami
  • Beef jerky
  • Corned beef

Seafood

Salmon, seaweed, and shrimps are rich in Omega-3. A lot of doctors recommend food that includes Omega-3 fatty acids to pregnant and breastfeeding moms.

This is because they can have effects on the brain and the intelligence of the baby. They’re important for the mother as well, providing protection against a lot of diseases including:

Ultimately, seafood can be a great source of protein if you’d rather not eat meat.

Dairy

Unless you or your baby is dairy-intolerant, your diet should include dairy products like milk, natural cheese, and yogurt.

Since breastfeeding can cause the calcium levels in your body to drop, you’ll need about 3 cups of dairy products each day to balance the scales.

If you’re someone who doesn’t eat dairy, you can get your calcium from dark leafy greens and beans.

Other Foods

There are other types of food you can, and should, include in your diet to make it balanced.

  • Eggs: Rich in protein
  • Potatoes: Rich in fiber, potassium, and vitamin C
  • Whole grains: High in protein
  • Nuts and seeds: Rich in Omega-3
  • Dark chocolate: High in antioxidants
Here is a good in-depth guide on nutrition and what to focus on especially when you are breastfeeding.

What You Can’t Eat While Breastfeeding

There are several foods that you should care not to consume while breastfeeding. Here’s a list of what you should avoid for the time being.

Caffeine

Even though your baby will get about 1% of your caffeine consumption, it can still impact their sleeping habits.

We’re not saying that you should stop drinking coffee altogether. You should only moderate your caffeine intake not to keep your baby from falling asleep easily.

It’s best that you drink 1-2 cups of coffee per day.

Spicy Food

Even though some studies have claimed that spicy food can be safe to consume while breastfeeding, it can make your baby restless.

To make sure you’re doing the right thing, consume spicy food in moderation.

Cow’s Milk

Some babies might be intolerant to dairy products. Therefore, if the mother consumes cow’s milk, the baby might face eczema, rashes, or diarrhea among other symptoms.

Again, the key here is moderation and keeping note of your baby’s reaction. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should exclude cow’s milk from your diet for about 4 weeks.

After that, you can put it back on the table and see if the symptoms improve. If they do, chances are your baby might have overcome their intolerance.

If these symptoms return, then you’ll have to stop consuming cow’s milk until your baby’s at least 12 months old.

Don’t forget to check with a doctor if the symptoms don’t disappear after a while.

Alcohol

Alcohol can get to your baby through breast milk. Unlike adults, babies need twice as much time to metabolize alcohol.

To keep alcohol from making its way to your infant, you should drink a few hours prior to breastfeeding.

Also, note that excessive drinking might lead to a shortage of breast milk. This is because alcohol decreases milk production if consumed too much.

Additional Breastfeeding Tips

If you’re a new mother, you can benefit from an extra few tips related to breastfeeding.

  • Ask a lactation consultant for help on breastfeeding tips
  • Make yourself comfortable before you breastfeed
  • Place pillows behind your back and cradle the baby in your arms
  • Don’t lean forward to your baby not to get sore back and shoulders
  • Keep one hand under the baby’s head, another supporting your breast
  • Burp the baby gently after each breastfeeding session
  • Wait until your baby is used to your breast before you introduce a pacifier
  • Have the baby sleep in a cot in your room, but don’t co-sleep

When You Should Start Eating Well? During Pregnancy? Before Labor? During Breastfeeding?

All doctors will recommend this diet when a woman goes for her first pregnancy test. Therefore, we can safely say that these eating habits should start from the moment you know you’re pregnant.

Of course, some foods, like spicy food or cow’s milk, are okay for pregnant women to consume. Moderating their intake should start when you begin to breastfeed.

As for alcohol, it’s already a big no-no during pregnancy.

To Wrap It Up

Breastfeeding is a responsibility that every parent should be ready for. Of everything on your list, your diet can be the most important in keeping your baby healthy and well-fed.

To make sure that they get the best out of it, you should pay close attention to what you can and can’t eat while breastfeeding.

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