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You just had your baby and you want to know everything about what to eat or what not to eat when breastfeeding your baby. This is a huge question especially if you are a first-time mommy.
There are certain foods that can create (even more) colic in your baby. They will have gas and an upset tummy which will make them cry a lot and feel uncomfortable.
First, I’d like to explain what colic is, how does it work and then I’ll go over what not to eat when breastfeeding.
For your convenience, I created an infographic just for you. It’s a food & snack list that will help you keep your milk supply. Keep on reading to download.
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What is colic?
I won’t go into a lot of details about colic in babies. I feel like this can be an entire article on its own. But I wanted to give you a quick overview just so you know what it is and what’s causing it.
The most important thing you should know about colic is that you CAN’T avoid it, but for sure you CAN make it worse if you’re not careful with your diet while breastfeeding.
Some people say that babies don’t have colic if you are careful with your diet.
This is very far from the truth! All babies have colic, no matter how they are fed – formula or breast milk. This is something you can’t avoid!
Colic is absolutely normal for a newborn baby which will then go away around 3-4 months old.
What’s causing it?
Your baby’s stomach is adjusting to milk and therefore makes them “colicky”. They have cramps, gas and lots of dirty diapers.
Here’s a list of theories that stand behind its causes:
- Muscle spasms created by the growing digestive system
- Baby’s mood
- Oversensitivity or overstimulation by the outside world – remember that your baby is adjusting to life outside the womb
- Stomach pains created by hormones
- Developing nervous system
You should also be aware that not everything is related to colic. So if you are concerned about your baby’s wellbeing you should take him to the paediatrician.
As I mentioned above, your diet can also have some sort of influence on your baby’s colic. There are certain foods that can make things worse if you are not careful. Now it’s time to find out what foods should breastfeeding moms avoid and hat foods can upset a breastfed baby.
How long does it take for food to pass into breast milk?
This is a VERY important thing to know, especially if you want to look for certain food reactions or allergies your baby might have.
Of course, there isn’t a set in stone timeline for this, but on average it takes between 4 to 6 hours for food to reach breast milk.
But there are some occasions where certain foods can reach your breast milk as early as 1 hour or as late as 24 hours.
There are lots of dependants for this:
- How often you nurse
- What type of food you eat
- Your metabolism
- How quickly your body digests food
What foods can upset a breastfed baby?
The short answer to this is – anything!
Everything you eat or drink is transferred through breast milk, without exceptions. However, not all babies react the same way – some might be more sensitive than others. So if you pay attention to your baby’s reaction after you’ve had a certain meal you can easily figure it out. That’s how you can avoid or remove certain foods from your diet.
How to tell if food is bothering your baby?
If you notice anything unusual in your baby’s behaviour or maybe you are concerned about anything, in particular, speak to your paediatrician ASAP! Don’t wait for things to get worse. It’s better to treat it early rather than later.
Keep in mind that these reactions can have different forms:
- Runny eyes
- Abnormal fussiness
- Excessive gas
What NOT to Eat when Breastfeeding?
Here’s a list of foods to “avoid” or better said consume with moderation while breastfeeding. You should also look for possible allergies to make sure your baby doesn’t have any reactions to the below foods.
To be completely honest with you I’ve never avoided foods from my diet while breastfeeding. I wanted him to get used to all the foods available in this world. What I did was to keep track of what I ate and look for any signs of fussiness or allergies. That’s when I would exclude the certain food from my diet for a week or so just to see if that was the cause.
Wondering if you can drink coke or caffeine while breastfeeding? The answer is YES! But don’t exaggerate with it. I have low blood pressure so if I don’t drink my coffee before 10 am I’ll get a massive headache. I also love my lattes. I have one a day and we didn’t have any issues with my son.
Try to avoid caffeine or coke in the evenings. It can give your baby a bit of energy and I’m sure you want him/her to sleep at night.
Experts say to limit your caffeine intake below 300mg per day.
That’s the equivalent of:
- a cup of coffee – 100-140 mg
- a cup of tea – 75 mg
- a chocolate bar – 50 mg
- Coke – 50 mg
Another thing you can consume, but with moderation. Experts say that beer can increase your milk supply. So you have an “excuse” to have an occasional drink. It won’t harm your baby. As long as you don’t go overboard.
One or two units of alcohol once or twice a week is alright:
- 125ml wine
- Half pint beer
- 25ml spirit
You should also allow 2-3 hours between drinking and breastfeeding. This time will allow the alcohol to leave the breastmilk. If you still have irregular breastfeeding sessions, you shouldn’t be drinking.
An alternative to this is to pump milk PRIOR to consuming ANY alcohol. Then bottle feed your baby.
If you and your baby are co-sleeping make sure you don’t share a bed if you’ve had a drink. This is linked to the SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Unless you are allergic to peanuts you shouldn’t worry about this one!
We all know that fish, in general, are an amazing source of both protein and omega 3. You can eat fish in moderation, but you should be very careful with a certain type of fish, such as swordfish and king mackerel. These have very high levels of mercury and are very dangerous to your little one.
If you wish to eat fish – tilapia, salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel and trout are great because they don’t have high mercury levels. Try to limit yourself at maximum 2 portions of fish per week.
Are you a sushi lover? In pregnancy was off-limits, but now you can eat, again in moderation, but be careful where you eat it from.
I am sure some of you are wondering why cow’s milk is on this list. Well.. this is because of the Cows’ Milk Allergy also known as CMA. This is the most common childhood food allergies.
Some of the symptoms include:
- red itchy rash on the skin
- Face swelling, especially lips, face and around the eyes
- tummy ache, vomiting, colic, diarrhoea, or constipation
- runny or blocked nose
There are also babies who are lactose intolerant. This means that their little bodies can’t digest the sugar from the milk (lactose) and develop a temporary reaction. Such as diarrhoea, vomiting, tummy pain and wind.
No matter what your child might have, you should contact your paediatrician ASAP!
It is known that some herbs can decrease your milk supply. So be very careful when consuming parsley, peppermint and sage. I recommend you to avoid them completely until you are ready to start weaning your baby off breastfeeding.
It’s one of the flavours most babies don’t enjoy and he might refuse your breast.
Honestly I didn’t have any refuse after eating garlic. I love my garlic!
Typically, these are beans, cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower. These are the foods that normally give you gas so it will have the same effect on your baby as well.
I’d stay away from these for the first 1-2 months if I were you.
Even when breastfeeding you have to be careful what medication you take. Same as in pregnancy, you want to avoid any dangerous substances to be transferred to your baby.
I highly recommend you to speak with a doctor before taking in any medication!
There you have it – what not to eat when breastfeeding. I guess it’s up to you if you want to exclude them completely from your diet or just consume them occasionally.
No matter your decision, please make sure you have variety in your diet. That’s how your baby can get a variery of flavours.
Do you have anything else to add to this list? Comment down below and share your ideas with us.