So you’ve made the decision and you’re able to nurse your baby, which is wonderful. Similar to pregnancy, you need to be aware of the fact that what you eat, your baby will eventually "eat". Filling your body with plenty of protein, healthy fats and a boatload of vitamins and minerals is key. Breastfeeding women need up to 500 more calories per day (check with your OB-GYN to find out what is best for you.). Of those calories, you need to make them rich in breastfeeding-friendly resources.
The Worst Foods to Eat While Breastfeeding
All babies and mamas are different, so these tips should be read to find out which foods will cause you and your baby the most trouble (you don’t need to completely avoid any foods, but be mindful of your intake and your baby’s reactions):
- Raw onions, cabbage and garlic: These foods will boost the flavor for mom and baby. Most babies don’t like the taste of garlic in their breast milk, so limit as best you can.
- Pineapple, mangoes, oranges: Citrus, although packed with vitamin C, can sometimes upset your baby’s sensitive system. An overload of vitamin C won’t do Mom any harm, but it can cause the baby some irritation.
- Alcohol (duh) and excessive tea or coffee: Alcohol and caffeine can easily permeate through the blood into the breast milk. What’s a baby going to do with caffeine or alcohol? Their systems aren’t set up for it. So avoid alcohol. If you do drink, pick up some alcohol testing strips. For caffeine, avoid the espresso shots and stick with one cup a day (up to 300 milligrams). Try to nurse an hour or so after you drink it.
- Strong spices or herbs: The FDA doesn’t have concrete evidence on how most herbs affect the baby via breast milk, so double check with your care provider if you’re set on using herbs. Spices can translate into the taste of the milk.
- Chocolate: This is so unfortunate. Sometimes there will be caffeine in chocolate, and that’s what triggers the baby to fuss and whine. “I’m just trying to sleep, Mom!” It’s best to save these treats for bedtime.
» Read more: Breastfeeding: A New Mama's Guide
Could your baby have food allergies? Peanuts, eggs and cow’s milk are often avoided by moms of extra-fussy babies. If you’re eating these and your baby experiences lack of sleep, skin irritations, extraordinary fussiness or gas, cold-like symptoms or diarrhea, he or she could be allergic to a certain food you’re eating. Moms are requested to practice the elimination diet at this point. Be aware that there is a big difference between a sensitivity and an allergy. The latter will almost always cause obvious symptoms other than fussiness. (via KellyMom)
What can I actually eat?! Whatever else you want! Honestly, there are fewer limitations during breastfeeding than with pregnancy. They fade as your baby grows and develops a stronger gut. Eat well and often to keep up with the milk demand.
Fresh food is always better so you can obtain the maximum amount of nutrients from the food. Try to avoid processed foods, which basically includes anything made in a factory or anything that needed step-by-step production. Avoid added sugars and try to go organic when you can, ultimately avoiding contaminants like pesticides. (via LLLI)
Best Foods To Eat While Breastfeeding
- Salmon: Keep boosting your baby’s brain development with the omegas (DHA) in this hearty fish. Buy it fresh and clean, and try to eat six ounces twice a week. (via WebMD) Click here to try our Caribbean Jerk Salmon recipe!
- Greek yogurt: Your baby can benefit from more calcium as his or her skeleton grows. Greek yogurt has less lactose than regular yogurt, so you can avoid a potential disruption that some babies develop due to a dairy allergy.
- Lean beef and chicken: Pack on the B-complex vitamins with some trimmed red meat. The B vitamins will boost your energy, which you’re kind of lacking those first few months. Hormone-free chicken is a great source of calories and protein for Mom, too. Click here for a Skinny Taco Salad recipe just for Mom.
- Beans: Any kind of legume like kidney beans, lentils or chickpeas are tiny little packages of big-time energy. They’re full of fiber, potassium and protein, too.
- Whole grains: Oats, breads and cereals with whole grains will provide you and your baby with more folic acid, essential vitamins, energy and fiber (most are fortified with fiber and iron). (via WebMD) Click here for some easy, healthy breakfast ideas to start your day.
- Water: Of course, water! Mama needs to stay hydrated. Water is the foundation of the breast milk, so drink an 8- to 10-ounce glass every time you nurse. Dr. Sears recommends drinking to quench your thirst and then some. Over-hydrating, though, can dilute the entire milk production. (via Dr. Sears)