During pregnancy, there are several foods you should avoid, but the list becomes shorter once you give birth and begin breastfeeding. Most foods are fine for nursing mothers to eat. There are some exceptions that apply to all nursing moms. Other exceptions apply only to a handful of mothers based on their specific situations and babies.
New moms are often short on sleep and energy. Nursing your baby is demanding and requires extra calories. You will probably need an extra 200 to 500 calories over what you would need if you weren’t nursing. Eating a variety of healthy foods, such as fruit, whole grains, vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy products, gives your body the nutrients and fuel it needs to keep up with the demands of your new bundle of joy. A few splurges are fine, but try to avoid lots of foods with empty calories that don’t offer nutritional value. Don’t diet while breastfeeding, especially in the beginning when you are establishing your milk supply.
A food journal is a useful tool for breastfeeding moms, especially if you notice your baby getting gassy and fussy at times. Your baby’s digestive system might react to certain foods you eat. If you write down all of the food you consume, you can better narrow down the foods that are causing the discomfort for your baby. If you think you know what is making him gassy, try eliminating that particular food from your diet.
Nursing babies sometimes have allergic reactions from the breast milk based on foods you eat. According to Babycenter, these symptoms might include eczema, congestion, diarrhea and fussiness. If you notice these symptoms and there is no other explanation for them, refer to your food journal. Dairy, soy, nuts, eggs and wheat are often the culprits that cause allergic reactions. This is more of a concern for a family with a history of food allergies. Talk to your child’s doctor if you suspect an allergic reaction.
Some caffeine is generally acceptable while breastfeeding, but excessive caffeine might start affecting your baby. As caffeine makes its way into your breast milk, it can cause your baby to have difficulty sleeping. The last thing you want to do is disrupt your baby’s sleep any more. Fussiness is also a possibility with excessive caffeine consumption, according to Babycenter.
Alcohol is a gray area that many breastfeeding mothers are unsure of. Some women choose to avoid alcohol completely, while others enjoy an occasional glass of wine or other adult beverage. According to Babycenter, after one drink the alcohol makes its way into your breast milk. If possible, nurse before you drink to avoid any problems. A general rule of thumb is to wait two hours for every drink you consume before you begin nursing again. For example, if you have three drinks, you should wait six hours before you nurse your baby again.