Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding and Alternatives
By Wendy Colson, RN, IBCLC, RLC
While most foods are well tolerated during breastfeeding, there are a select few of foods to avoid while breastfeeding. We can use nutrition to optimize the composition of our breastmilk.
Generally we encourage a balanced diet rich in lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and good fats and plenty of fruits and vegetables to help make nutrient rich breastmilk. Surprisingly, there are still plenty of myths floating around about foods to avoid when breastfeeding.. Let’s break down what not to eat while breastfeeding below:
What Should You Avoid While Breastfeeding?
How much caffeine upsets your breastfed baby depends on if you consumed any during pregnancy. You can absolutely have your cup of coffee mama but if you haven’t consumed it during pregnancy, start small and be mindful of staying below 300mg/day (2-3 cups or regular coffee brewed at home).
Don’t forget that other items that have additional caffeine that can irritate baby include: energy drinks and sodas so be mindful of your overall consumption patterns throughout the day. You can consider non caffeinated options such as herbal teas or lower caffeinated products such as matcha.
You went a long nine months without your beloved sushi, I know! Fish is actually a wonderful breastfeeding superfood so long as you are choosing fish low in mercury. Food to avoid when breastfeeding includes swordfish, shark, mackerel, marlin and big eye tuna which have higher levels of mercury that could be potentially toxic in large amounts for baby. Don’t worry mama, you can still aim for alternatives like low mercury fish like shrimp, salmon, crab, cod, oysters, tuna and tilapia about 2-3 times/week for a good dose of protein and omega 3 fatty acids.
Highly processed foods are foods not to eat while breastfeeding. While there’s no need to demonize any particular foods as “off limits” or “bad” you want to be mindful to avoid food that is highly processed, low in nutrients such as packed, frozen and preprepared meals. We know it’s hard to get everything you need nutritionally when your hands are full so we crafted Boobie to be a way for you to get the nutrients you need, with no foods that will agitate the baby while boosting your milk supply.
Should I Avoid Spicy Foods?
If you like it hot and spicy, go for it mama! There is no reason to avoid spicy food while breastfeeding and in fact, the strong taste and flavors will help expose your baby to a wide variety of tastes through your breastmilk.
What Foods Can Upset a Breastfed Baby?
Families that have strong family histories of allergies or if your baby is experiencing significant symptoms such as skin rashes, excessive fussiness, vomiting/diarrhea will benefit from speaking with their pediatrician about if eliminating dairy/soy could be a trigger. For most breastfeeding moms, unless the above symptoms are present there is no need to avoid dairy or soy in your breastfeeding diet.
Are Strawberries Bad for Breastfeeding?
There’s no reason to avoid these delicious fruits during breastfeeding, they are rich in nutrients and while they are fiber rich and acidic, once digested they won’t cause any fussiness or reactions when eaten during breastfeeding.
Your nutrition matters when you are breastfeeding. While most foods are well tolerated during breastfeeding, knowing what foods to avoid while breastfeeding can help empower you to make choices that support both your health and your little ones!
By Wendy Colson RN, IBCLC, RLC
Wendy Colson, a registered nurse (RN) and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), is the Founder and CEO of Boobie* Superfoods. Throughout her career, Wendy has dedicated her time to helping other women conquer motherhood with ease. She helped thousands of mothers breastfeed their babies or receive their mother’s pumped milk during hospitalization. In addition, she has successfully developed a line of innovative, solution-based supplements & products for each stage of motherhood including pregnancy, lactation, and raising a family. Wendy currently lives in sunny San Diego with her 3 daughters and husband. She spends her leisure time devouring chips and salsa and planning new ways to overcome the challenges of motherhood.