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Foods to Avoid While Nursing

What Every Nursing Mom Needs to Know About Avoiding Foods

One of the hardest parts of being pregnant was having to avoid some of my favorite foods and drinks (things like sushi and certain teas were forbidden). I thought that once I had given birth, I could go back to eating and drinking to my heart's content. While this is mostly true, there are still some things that need to be limited by women who nurse. Here are 10 foods and drinks to be careful of when breastfeeding.

  1. Coffee and chocolate. Even though this is the time where you need caffeine the most, it's still best to limit caffeine while nursing, especially while the baby is young, since newborns have difficulty metabolizing caffeine. Chocolate, which contains caffeine, should consequently also be avoided.
  2. Fish. Mercury is a worry for nursing moms, thus fish is problematic. It's best to limit fish to no more than twice a week, choose fish that is lower in mercury like salmon, and avoid sushi to prevent the likelihood of food poisoning. According to the FDA, nursing women should still avoid tuna, swordfish, and other fish with high levels of mercury.
  3. Dairy. Some babies develop dairy allergies that can surface in things like eczema or trouble when breathing. It's a rare condition but still best to talk over any concerns with your doctor.
  4. Peppermint. That soothing cup of tea may sound great, but it's also possible that it lowers milk supply. It's best to proceed with caution.
  5. Orange juice. Even though there aren't any studies to support this claim, women are often told to avoid orange juice and other citric-heavy foods. Considering the potential risk of doing damage to the baby's GI tract, it may be best to limit just in case.
  6. Wheat. If your baby starts to show signs of stomachache and painful stools, talking with your doctor about avoiding wheat for a while might help.
  7. Garlic. Yes, garlic is flavorful, but it also can flavor your milk, which might not be the desired taste you were going for. If your baby starts to avoid the breast or seem discomforted, try limiting your garlic intake.
  8. Sugar. Sugar can dehydrate you, and when you're nursing, you need all the hydration and healthy nutrition you can get.
  9. Gassy foods. If a food, like beans and cauliflower, makes you gassy, it's possible that the baby will get gassy too.
  10. Spicy foods. Those flavorful and hot dishes, while delicious, can alter the taste of breast milk. Beyond creating a flavor that might be unappealing to babies, there is also a potential for the baby to experience gastric distress and become colicky.
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