Just as you ate for two while you were pregnant, now that you’re nursing your baby, you still have to be conscience about the food that you eat because you are still nourishing two. Your baby is now ingesting everything that you eat while he is breastfeeding.
You cannot gauge whether or not certain foods that you eat will bother your infant by the way he eats – He will nurse regardless. Certain foods will alter the taste of your breast milk, but this will not stop him from nursing. It might prevent him from eating as much as he normally would, though it is quite rare that he will turn down the breastfeeding in its entirety for the reason of a taste change. You can determine if certain foods have made your baby gassy or had another affect on him by watching his behavior and actions after eating a certain type of food, but regardless of what you eat, he will still nurse.
The nourishment from the food that you eat passes through to your baby via your breast milk. Spicy foods will cause him indigestion, as they are harsh on an infants digest tract. After nursing he will show signs of not feeling well, being fussy and that his stomach is upset. Spicy foods can also cause your baby to have nausea and diarrhea, and in severe cases, it can even cause him severe abdominal pain. Chocolate is known for causing infants to suffer from gas and bloating. A small amount is fine but it must be in very limited amounts, and if possible, white chocolate is the better choice, as it does not upset a baby’s tummy near as badly as milk chocolate does.
Dark chocolate is harder on the baby than milk chocolate. Caffeine does not agree with infants either. A cup or two of coffee per day is fine but higher consumptions can make you baby fussy and interfere with his sleeping patterns. Tea and soda also have amounts of caffeine in them and should be avoided. Certain fruits and vegetables are also known for making infants gassy and loosening their stool, including cherries, oranges, lemons, grapefruits, cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, cucumbers. Alcoholic beverages should be consumed with caution, to avoid passing the alcohol onto the baby via the breast milk. It is best to allow a minimum of two hours for each alcoholic beverage consumed before nursing your baby, i.e., if you drink two wine coolers, you should wait a minimum of four hours before nursing your baby.
Food allergies are the next concern that arise when you are considering what foods to avoid when you are breastfeeding. Common allergies to foods are cow’s milk (dairy products), soy, wheat, flour, eggs, peanuts and corn. Just because you are not allergic to a specific food and can eat it without problem does not mean that your baby can. If you notice a reaction from your baby after nursing, consider the foods that you ate within the last two to six hours just prior to feeding him. Make a mental note of this food and see if he continues to react when you eat it. If so, stop eating that particular food until you are done nursing and do not prepare food for him that contains the ingredient that he reacted to.
Maintain your prenatal vitamins while you are breastfeeding so your baby still receives the vitamins he needs and you stay strong and healthy. And make sure to continue taking any other medications that your doctor advised you to take, until he instructs you otherwise. Abrupt changes in medication can be as harmful as starting a new medication.
Feel free to discuss this and other breastfeeding topics in our breastfeeding forum.