Q: [Maternity/Infant] I have read the studies, talked to other new moms (and a fair number of veterans in the baby game) and have decided to nurse. I guess this puts the kaibosh on my plans to dive into all those spicy tuna rolls and glasses of vino I have been longing for the past year of trying/growing this baby?
A: You have such great timing for your question, as August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month! Funded by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, this campaign empowers women to commit to breastfeeding. Even with all of its benefits, though, breastfeeding can be challenging and stressful for new moms. One understandable concern, especially coming off nine plus months of being an angel when it comes eating and drinking to keeping your body healthy as baby developed, is how strict do you have continue to be?
Good news mamas! There aren’t really any foods you need to avoid when breastfeeding, some strong flavors, like garlic and curry, can show up in your breast milk. This can cause your baby to refuse to nurse, but other babies will like the new tastes. There is some evidence that your baby will be more open to new flavors and less picky later in life when exposed to a variety of flavors early. However, there are some foods (and drinks) that you may want to enjoy in small amounts:
Certain types of fish – Shark, swordfish and mackerel often contain high levels of mercury. Mercury is a heavy metal that can affect your baby’s brain and nervous system, since what you eat ends up in your breast milk, it’s best to limit your intake on these types of fish.
Caffeine – If you want a cup of Joe, go ahead and enjoy it! A small amount of caffeine will show up in your breast milk so watch your baby for wakefulness and reduce your coffee intake if you notice any changes in behavior.
Alcohol – You can enjoy a glass of wine without guilt. The brewer’s yeast in beer can even increase your milk supply! If you enjoy a little too much, you might want to pump and dump. If you are safe to drive, you are safe to breastfeed.
Helen Anderson, RN, BSN, MSN, CLE, is the inventor of the Milkies Milk-Saver, mom of 3, and Chief Lactation Officer at Fairhaven Health.