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Cayenne Pepper Benefits for a Breastfeeding Mom

By Elizabeth Falwell

Cayenne pepper -- also called bird pepper, red pepper and zanzibar pepper -- is grown in tropical regions of the North and South American continents. Cayenne pepper is a natural remedy for relieving migraine headaches, preventing colds and spurring weight loss. Taking cayenne pepper in certain ways while breastfeeding can have negative consequences on your baby.

Eating Cayenne Pepper

Putting a little cayenne pepper on your favorite foods adds spice and flavor to the dish; but it also changes the way your breast milk tastes to your baby. Cayenne pepper and other spicy foods like chili pepper and hot sauce change the flavor of breast milk in some mothers, although not all nursing moms will experience this change to their milk. Some babies taste this additional flavor, refusing to nurse until its effects dissipate from the mother's milk. In other cases, the cayenne pepper does not change the taste of the breast milk, but leads to gastrointestinal problems in a baby, such as increased gas or stomach discomfort.

Migraine Remedy

Certain brand name migraine remedies are off-limits for pregnant and nursing mothers, but some people use cayenne pepper as a natural remedy for these debilitating headaches. To use, place a few grains of cayenne pepper at the base of each nostril. This opens the blood vessels in your nasal passage, allowing your circulatory system to transport more nutrients and oxygen to the source of your headache. Cayenne pepper used in such a fashion does not enter the digestive system, so there is no threat of passing the spicy pepper on to your child through your milk.

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Natural Cold Medication

You should avoid taking aspirin while nursing, but other natural remedies exist to deal with minor colds. Eating foods rich in vitamin C and taking garlic or echinacea supplements ward off colds. Some naturalists also claim cayenne pepper keeps colds at bay and shortens the duration of a cold after onset. There is no formula for using cayenne pepper in this method; simply add the spice liberally to your meals -- just remember, your nursing baby may taste it in your breast milk and pull away at feeding time.

Diet Aid

Websites abound touting the benefits of cayenne pepper as a diet aid. Although postpartum women may be eager to lose the last few pounds packed on during pregnancy, lactation consultants and doctors warn nursing mothers to avoid rapid weight loss. You need between 300 and 500 additional calories every day while nursing to provide the necessary nutrients to her baby. Trying to lose weight while nursing can decrease your milk supply, putting your infant's health in jeopardy. For this reason, you should avoid diets of all kinds -- including those using cayenne pepper.

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