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Foods You Can't Eat While Breastfeeding

By Michelle Fisk ; Updated June 13, 2017

If you are a breastfeeding mom, you don’t need to entirely swear off any particular food, says Dr. Paula Meier, director of clinical research and lactation in the neonatal intensive care unit at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Your growing fetus got a taste of the foods you enjoy through your amniotic fluid and your baby enjoys those same flavors coming through the breast milk he drinks. Certain foods, however, you want to consume in smaller amounts, and watch out for any foods that don't agree with your baby. Otherwise, continue to eat a balanced diet and take a prenatal vitamin.

Caffeine in Moderation

With a newborn baby in tow, you probably need a cup of coffee on most mornings to get your day started. The BabyCenter websites states that caffeine is fine in moderation. Stick with one to two cups of coffee, because too much caffeine puts your little one at risk for sleep interruptions and fussiness. Babies under 6 months and those not exposed to caffeine in the womb are more sensitive to its effects. Aside from coffee, tea, energy drinks, some over-the-counter medications and chocolate also contain caffeine.

Alcohol Occasionally

Every mom, even the breastfeeding mom, deserves an occasional glass of wine. The BabyCenter website states that a glass of alcohol is allowed when you’re breastfeeding. After one glass of wine or beer, alcohol gets into your breast milk. If you have more than one drink, wait at least two hours per drink before nursing your baby. Alcohol is most highly concentration in your breast milk one-half to one hour after drinking -- but this is variable, according to the Kelly Mom website. Alcohol exits your milk just as it exits your body, so once your blood alcohol content is zero, there is no alcohol left in your breast milk.

Fish Cautions

Fish contains a host of nutrients vital to your baby’s growth and development, such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and protein. Fish also contains mercury, which, in high doses, can harm your little one’s brain and nervous system. Pregnant and breastfeeding women limit fish intake to 12 ounces per week, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. Avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish because they have the highest mercury levels. If you’re a tuna fish fan, limit your consumption of albacore tuna to 6 ounces per week because the larger fish in albacore tuna tend to contain more mercury.

Allergens and Colic

Your baby’s digestive system may not be mature enough to handle the foods he is getting through your breast milk, which can cause irritation, discomfort and gas – otherwise known as colic. If you have a colicky baby, consider cutting out dairy products, cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, chocolate, eggs, citrus fruits, tomatoes, caffeine and artificial sweeteners. Speak with your doctor about eliminating certain foods from your diet if you have a family history of allergies because your baby may be sensitive to those foods too. The most common allergens are eggs, peanuts, soy, wheat, corn and milk.

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