The Food Rules Every Breastfeeding Mother Should Know

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Congrats! You conquered nine months of pregnancy, and now you’ve got an adorable little baby in your arms and it’s time for breastfeeding. And after being on a pregnancy diet where you perhaps avoided a number of foods, you’re probably ready to go back to your “everything” diet.

If you’ve opted to breastfeed, there’s a solid chance some well-meaning people have given you a list of things you still can’t eat. The good news is you can pretty much ignore them.

There are many myths out there about what you can or cannot eat, and for the most part, as a breastfeeding mama, you can eat anything. Your diet shouldn’t get in the way of your willingness to breastfeed.

Any time that someone says that you have to have a special diet, restrict foods, that you can’t have any junk food or a glass of wine, that gives the impression that breastfeeding is restrictive, and it’s not.

With that said, here are a number of things you need to know about some best dietary practices while breastfeeding.

Know The Foods Your Baby Dislikes
While most women can eat anything without it bothering the baby, some women say certain foods make their baby fussy. If on the rare occurrence you notice there’s one type of food that consistently brings on irritability, try eliminating that food and see if it makes their symptoms better.

Such foods are usually individual for every woman. There’s not one trouble-causing food across the board.

It’s Totally Fine If Your Diet Is Imperfect
When you’re in survival mode in the early newborn days, you’re not planning out your meals extensively. You’re grabbing what you can to feed yourself. As such, you shouldn’t feel one bit guilty if your diet includes ice cream and pizza on occasion.

Food that you eat is broken down into protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Those building blocks are reincorporated into breastmilk and as such, you’re not directly feeding your baby the ice cream and pizza.

The mammary glands are sophisticated. You will still be able to produce nutritious milk to nourish your baby to grow healthy and strong.

Avoid Fish That Contains High Amount Of Mercury
It’s a good idea for everyone to limit their consumption of high-mercury fish, especially breastfeeding mothers. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends avoiding high-mercury fish, like shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish.

Since fish can provide an important source of omega-3s, you should keep it in your diet. However, go for low-mercury fishes like light tuna, shrimp, salmon, pollock, or catfish.

Take Coffee
Like a lot of mothers, you may need a cup of coffee to get going in the morning. You absolutely do not have to give up your beloved latte.

A reasonable amount of caffeine, about two to three cups, is completely safe while breastfeeding. This is because newborns don’t metabolize caffeine as well, so you may have to adjust your intake if they seem fussy after you sip your cup.

No matter how old your baby is, if you notice caffeine affects them, consider swapping that latte for decaffeinated.

Drink Milk
In general, babies aren’t allergic to their mother’s milk. It’s rare that your baby might react to something you ingest, though if your baby has blood in their stool, it could be a reaction to milk protein.

In the event that this happens, take your baby to your healthcare provider to discuss a trial of eliminating milk from your diet. However, this is not the norm, so you should generally feel free to continue drinking milk.

Approach Drinking Alcohol Differently
Instead of drinking and breastfeeding, you can try to pump or feed right before you enjoy your glass of wine, and then wait two hours per drink before pumping or feed again.

Still, you’ll probably want to avoid drinking to intoxication. This is because alcohol is digested and metabolized by the liver.

The blood alcohol level becomes the concentration of alcohol in breastmilk. Chronic, long-term alcohol exposure can be harmful to a baby, which is why moderation is key. More so, drinking alcohol may impair judgment and your ability to properly care for your baby.



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