By Wendy Colson RN, IBCLC, RLC
During pregnancy, you’re aware that you can’t dig into the sushi, but is it safe to eat your favorite foods while breastfeeding? Yes! There are many myths that still linger around what moms “should and shouldn’t” eat while breastfeeding. Often these myths are passed down through families, cultural beliefs, mommy groups and your favorite influencer. Here at BOOBIE*, we value nutrition in all of our products and we also want to empower you to eat what you love. Let’s breakdown some of the common myths around food and drinks to be avoided while breastfeeding:
Myth: You should avoid “gassy foods”
Beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower are “cruciferous” vegetables and can sometimes produce gas when eaten by mom. It’s often thought that if these foods produce gas in the mother that this will make the baby gassy or fussy. The truth is that our breastmilk is not made from the content of our stomach, it’s made from our blood. If your newborn is still gassy and fussy- know that their gut is still developing and being gassy is normal for a baby. Don’t miss those cruciferous veggies, they are loaded with antioxidants, fiber and prebiotics to feed your gut!
Myth: Spicy foods can upset babies
You’ve probably heard this one somewhere- that eating your favorite salsa, curry or adding red pepper to your meal can irritate your baby when breastfeeding. While it’s true that strong flavors such as garlic can pass into breast milk, it only serves to help your baby start to develop their foodie palate from a young age and doesn’t cause any fussiness or harm. So keep your food spicy if that’s how you prefer it. Chances are, your baby will get a taste for “spicy” and love your flavorful cooking right from the start since you have taken the time to condition their taste buds to match yours.
Myth: Caffeine can irritate your baby
We know you are running on that morning cup of coffee after a long night, mama! Know that most babies can tolerate caffeine. In fact, I have spent many hours hanging “caffeine drips” on all my fragile premature patients while working as a NICU registered nurse. In Neonatal Intensive Care Units everywhere Caffeine is widely used. In the NICU it is used to to treat and prevent breathing (apnea) issues and to help premature babies get off ventilators and onto room air faster. Therefore, caffeine is a good and useful stimulant which unnecessarily gets a bad rap in a mom’s breastfeeding journey. Since moms often switch to decaffeinated or eliminate caffeine in their diets in pregnancy, ease back to drinking your morning cup of joe and watch for signs of sensitivity. If you notice any of these symptoms repeatedly 1-2 hours after ingesting ( fussiness and wakefulness), adjust your daily amount, try half-caff and work your way back up in moderation as your baby ages and tolerates. If you would rather a natural caffeine-free energy drink which is safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding, try Hydromom which energizes and also hydrates you, fueled by B-Vitamins & electrolytes instead.
There always seems to be some new food myth that tries to restrict breastfeeding mamas diets. As a general rule of thumb you do not need to restrict yourself and can enjoy foods that both fuel and satisfy you. While we all can work to be mindful of working to prioritize whole, nutrient dense foods, the occasional slice of pizza with friends or hot cheetos you grab from the cabinet in a pinch won’t sabotage your breastmilk.
We know you are working to keep everything movin’ in your family, mama! Don’t let worrying about food take up too much space while you are breastfeeding or pumping. I always reassure my patients by reminding them of how their digestive system works. The digestive system still flows in this order: Mouth-Esophagus-Gut. When lactating, It never changes to this order: Mouth-Esophagus-to straight out your nipples! Even though so many people falsely make you believe this myth. Therefore, eat what you love in moderation and aim for variety and balance to help you find your balance each day.
Learn more about how our products can help fuel your breastfeeding goals and #momlife here.