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Food and Breastfeeding: What to Avoid and What to Eat More of!

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You’ve heard of food for thought right?

Well, how much thought have you put into food for breastfeeding and the affects it may be having on you, your milk supply and your baby’s digestive health?

Knowing what foods you can eat while breastfeeding and how it affects your baby and your milk supply is a powerful way to take control of your breastfeeding success.

Likewise, there are also foods you should avoid while breastfeeding and you’ll learn what those are too!

The information in this post is for entertainment purposes only and is not meant to be medical or dietary advice. 

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Foods to Avoid while Breastfeeding

Does a mom’s breastfeeding diet really have that great of an impact on her milk supply and her baby’s digestion?

The short answer to those questions is YES, it probably does.

So now, let’s identify some types of foods and how they can affect your breast milk, so you can know which foods to avoid while breastfeeding and which ones are mostly harmless.

Below, you’ll find a small list of common foods and food groups that tend to have the most negative impact on a breastfed baby.

As you read through, you will get a better understanding of how the food a breastfeeding mom eats can affect her baby and what can be done about it.

  • Caffeine
  • Dairy
  • Trans Fats
  • Herbs
  • Citrus

Foods and herbs that cause low milk supply infographic

Caffeine 

New moms need their caffeine, this is a fact.

However, caffeine can have a negative affect on a breastfed baby.

Even though a very small amount of the caffeine a mom consumes is actually transferred to baby through her breast milk, a very young baby CANNOT easily process even tiny amounts of caffeine.

Which is why it is best to avoid large amounts of caffeine while breastfeeding.

Try and limit yourself to one cup of a coffee per day and remember, there is also caffeine in some not so obvious sources too. Such as, chocolate, tea, some sports drinks and soda.

How Does Caffeine Affect Milk Supply?

Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it will cause you to urinate more frequently.

There is some scientific research that has determined caffeine may not, like once thought, be dehydrating.

However, it may be better to lean on the side of caution and avoid caffeine while breastfeeding, especially if you are working hard to increase your milk supply.

Myself and other breastfeeding moms do claim that their breast milk supply does seem to decrease in conjunction with caffeine consumption.

At the end of the day, I say go with your intuition and drink lots of water instead or try one of these more exciting breastfeeding drink options!

Dairy and Breastfeeding 

Dairy products are usually the number one culprit when it comes to the reason for a baby’s digestive upsets, such as colic and allergies.

Most pediatricians will recommend a dairy free breastfeeding diet as the first line of action to determine the cause of an irritable baby.

But be aware, sometimes even after removing dairy from your diet, cow’s milk proteins can persist in a mom’s body for up two weeks after they have been eliminated.

Therefore, make sure you give your diet change at least 2-3 weeks before making the call.

The whole time I was breastfeeding I was dairy free. It was a hard transition at first, but it got easier and I actually felt a lot better!

If you’re ready to give up dairy for your baby, help yourself to this FREE dairy free starter pack.

How to Know if Your Breastfed Baby is Sensitive to Dairy

A baby with a dairy sensitivity most likely is not lactose intolerant, but is instead disagreeing with the proteins found in cow’s milk. Therefore, switching to a lactose-free dairy milk may not solve a dairy sensitivity.

See the bulleted list of common dairy sensitivity systems a baby might display.

  • Colic
  • Eczema
  • Wheezing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea and/or greenish-tan poop color.
  • Constipation
  • Hives
  • Stuffy, Itchy or Runny Nose

If you are worried your baby is reacting poorly to the dairy you have been eating and would like to transition him or her to a non-dairy formula for a time, see this separate post on how to supplement with formula.

Trans Fats

Mothers who consume high amounts of trans fats may be passing those fats along to their babies through breast milk.

A study found that mothers who consumed a large amount of these fats DOUBLED the chance of their infant having high levels of body fat.

It’s easiest to identify trans fats by assuming most processed foods contain them.

Such as chips, crackers cookies, frozen pizza and everything else that is “bad” for us and of course tastes amazing.

Probably everything you are craving right now with that ferocious breastfeeding appetite!

Speaking of, if you are looking for help with curating breastfeeding friendly meals and snacks, I recommend this downloadable breastfeeding cookbook.

Herbs and Spices

It is NOT a known fact that herbs and spices directly cause adverse side effects to breast milk.

The more likely affect they will have on your breast milk is the addition of added flavor. Your baby may or may not appreciate these flavor additions. 

Please note that herbal supplements are not in question here as they are in a much more concentrated form.

Always consult with your doctor before taking any supplements or medications while breastfeeding.

Herbs That Increase Milk Supply

There are some herbs that have been shown through research to help increase milk supply. Many times these herbs are used in the curation of effective lactation supplements.

  • Fennel
  • Fenugreek
  • Milk Thistle
  • Alfalfa
  • Anise
  • Red Raspberry Leaf
  • Goats Rue

Herbs to Avoid While Breastfeeding

Above, we looked at some herbs that could be beneficial in helping to promote a more abundant milk supply.

Now, lets point out some herbs you should DEFINITELY avoid as they may have the opposite affect and actually decrease your milk supply.

  • Peppermint
  • Spearmint
  • Parsley
  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Yarrow
  • Thyme

Citrus

Ah, citrus, a favorite scent and flavor for many! 

But wait, is eating citrus allowed while you are breastfeeding?

Some say it’s ok and others – not so much.

Citrus foods are high in acidity which can cause some problems for an immature digestive system that most babies have the first few months of their life.

Your baby may be having some issues with the citrus foods you are eating if these symptoms start making an appearance.

Baby’s Digestive Upsets Caused by Citrus

  • An upset stomach with gas and spitting up.
  • A diaper rash can erupt from the acidic nature of her urine and bowel movements.

If you feel like your baby may be having a negative reaction to the glorious cup of freshly-squeezed o.j. you’ve been enjoying every morning (because what new mom doesn’t have time make that, right?).

Then, try avoiding all citrus for a couple of weeks and note any changes.

Use this baby care tracker I sell on my Etsy shop to help you log your baby’s daily habits.

11 Foods That Increase Milk Supply

These 11 foods always worked for me when I needed a milk producing pick-me-up. See how I recommend using them in your every day breastfeeding diet

  1. Oatmeal
  2. Flax
  3. Bone Broth
  4. Fennel
  5. Brewer’s Yeast
  6. Papaya
  7. Spinach
  8. Yams
  9. Coconut
  10. Basil
  11. Nuts

Food for breastfeeding to increase milk supply image.

7 Ways to Increase Milk Supply

Along with learning about the right foods to eat while breastfeeding to promote a healthy and productive milk supply, let’s touch on these other ways to boost milk supply.

  1. Use a powerful pump that is designed to pull out the most milk possible.
  2. Frequently check the condition of your pumping parts and change when needed.
  3. Use proper size breastshields to ensure maximum suction.
  4. Pump more often throughout the day.
  5. Increase hydration.
  6. Increase the amount of calories you consume per day.
  7. Reduce stress.

Healthy Mom Equals Healthy Milk Supply

Speaking of eating for your milk supply, The Postpartum Cure is an awesome online resource for breastfeeding moms who want to learn how to eat for more milk, but also get healthy and fit at the same time.

You may feel like you’d love to focus on your health, eat right and begin to feel fit and trim again…

But you worry that implementing a fitness and healthy eating regimen while breastfeeding may hurt your milk supply.

The Postpartum Cure is an online health coach just for breastfeeding moms!

Kate the creator, is a mom herself and knows how important your milk supply is and has curated a program with that in mind. 

You can get back to feeling vibrant and energetic again without sacrificing your breastfeeding goals. If this sounds like exactly what you need, here is how you can get started!

Gotta have it freebie with 3 arrows pointing down and hearts.Dairy Free Breastfeeding Starter Pack

✔︎ Dairy free + milk supply recipes

✔︎ Food swapper guide

✔︎ Dairy free meal & snack ideas

A mock up of this dairy free meal ideas ebook on an iPad and iPhone.

Claim Your Copy!

Summary

There was a lot of information in this article about what effect food for breastfeeding can positively and negatively have on your baby and milk supply.

I hope you found it all helpful and well-guided!

You learned what foods you should sometimes avoid while breastfeeding. Foods such as trans fats, dairy, caffeine, herbs and even citrus. 

In contrast, you also were introduced to some herbs that could help increase your milk supply. These included herbs like, fennel, fenugreek, milk thistle, alfalfa, anise, red raspberry leaf and goats rue.

On the other hand, there are herbs you should definitely stay away from while breastfeeding that could dramatically hurt your milk supply.

These herbs were: peppermint, spearmint, parsley, oregano, sage, yarrow and thyme.

References:

  1. https://www.livestrong.com/article/501339-does-what-you-eat-affect-your-breast-milk/
  2. https://kellymom.com/bf/can-i-breastfeed/lifestyle/caffeine/
  3. https://kellymom.com/health/baby-health/food-sensitivity/
  4. https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/ss/slideshow-breastfeeding-foods

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