Have you been told to avoid certain foods while you are breastfeeding? If so, let’s back up and ask why. Unless there is a specific reason YOU, your baby, or your family should not be exposed to certain foods, you don’t need a list of foods to avoid. You don’t need to avoid any foods if both you and your baby are happy.
The rules of good nutrition still apply. Favor unprocessed, whole foods. Buy organic any foods that are known to have the most pesticide residues. Get your vitamins and minerals from food sources when possible. Eat a lot of dark, colorful vegetables and fruits for the micronutrients.
If you wonder whether you are getting enough nutrition from your foods, sip tea while you are nursing. (Though, be careful never to hold a hot cup of tea over your baby. One kick and you can have an ugly accident. Let the tea cool off before you drink it.) If your milk supply is adequate, you could choose to drink nutrient-packed Third Trimester Tea from Earth Mama Angel Baby. This is a blend of red raspberry leaf, stinging nettle, chamomile, rose hips, and oat straw. All of these are great during pregnancy and during nursing. If you need to boost your milk production, Organic Milkmaid Tea included traditional herbal galactagogues, including fennel, fenugreek, anise seed and caraway seed, and mineral packed nettle and red raspberry leaf. Don’t drink this one while pregnant or if you already have enough milk. Whether you sip tea or water, having a drink nearby while you are nursing helps you to get enough water.
Will eating a lot of garlic flavour your breastmilk? Sure it will, but that isn’t a problem, if your baby likes garlic-flavoured breastmilk.
Can you eat peanuts and other nut butters? Sure, if you don’t have a history of peanut allergies in your family and your baby isn’t bothered. It won’t cause your baby to develop an allergy, and nuts (along with avocados, olives, salmon, and other oily foods) give you healthy fats you need.
Most of the foods that you might have heard you shouldn’t eat while breastfeeding (minus the nasty foods none of us should eat), is being eaten right now by a breastfeeding mother who is experiencing no problems. Your reactions and your babies reactions can be different.
If your baby is feeling gassy or having an unexplained diaper rash, the food you eat could potentially be the cause. You can eliminate foods that have been known to cause problems with some breastfeeding babies, then you can re-introduce slowly to check whether that was really the problem.
In the end, the only food my first baby seemed sensitive to me eating was tomatoes. Other foods often put in the same category, oranges and lemons, caused no problems at all. I don’t love tomatoes myself, so it was no hardship to give them up, and it helped my daughter avoid diaper rash. My second child had no sensitivities, and he still has no food sensitivities.
Your baby will be different. Start by assuming you can eat anything unless you have a family history of specific allergies. I found that it helped to keep a journal of my food and my baby’s reactions when I thought there might be a problem. I continued that same journal once I introduced solid foods. If you have already dealt with allergies, you are probably familiar with the idea of keeping a food journal of foods eaten and symptoms noticed. If you do have allergies, look over La Leche League’s list of articles on allergies and breastfeeding for specific help.
If you notice no discomfort in your baby, go ahead and eat curry, chocolate, and whatever else you love.
For more details on the foods that you don’t necessarily need to avoid while breastfeeding, read Kelly Mom’s post on foods to eat while nursing. She busts breastfeeding food myths with science.