How Does My Diet Affect My Breastfed Baby?

Given the hullabaloo around breastfeeding in public, as well as uncertainty when you first start breastfeeding, it can be difficult to feel confident in nursing your little one. Still, most things worth doing take some time and effort, and the good news about breastfeeding is that there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to do it.

Many mothers wonder whether or not they are eating the right foods after their baby is born, they worry about caffeine and calories and whether or not those hot peppers they ate last night is why their baby was up so frequently during the night.

Self-Assurance in What We Eat

It’s important to feel comfortable about your diet. Rest assured, you are doing just fine. After all, you’re here looking for information, which means you truly care about your baby. Remember you’re giving her a priceless gift and you aren’t going to ruin your breastmilk from the food already part of your regular diet. In fact, your milk most likely contains exactly what your baby needs that your baby is safe, regardless of your diet.

Do I have to change how many calories I’m taking in?

Many mothers are concerned about what they eat and have questions and concerns regarding their diet. First and foremost, they ask if it’s okay to be eating more than they normally would. Typically, you should be increasing your caloric intake to approximately 500-600 calories daily. Although again, don’t panic if you’re having a hard time doing so. If you don’t get quite enough calories, your body will get them from your already-present reserves, which will help you lose the weight you gained during your pregnancy. As long as you’re breastfeeding when your baby communicates his hunger and are listening to your body, feel assured that you’re eating the right amount for your body’s needs.

Is my baby allergic to what I eat?

Generally speaking, probably not.

Most mothers wonder about colic, a condition in which their baby cries and screams excessively. They ask whether or not the food they eat is causing colic. The answer isn’t a simple yes or no. Your baby’s food sensitivities and allergies do play a role in colic, but difficulty self-regulating the nervous system is most likely the root cause. Very rarely do food sensitivities play a role in colic – in fact, only about two to three babies who are exclusively breastfed show signs of allergies.

Usually, in the rare cases in which a baby experiences food sensitivities, they are almost always caused by cow’s milk in a mother’s diet. If your baby develops a rash, has diarrhea or is vomiting, you should let your doctor know, because these may be symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Infrequently, babies exhibit signs of slight problems with certain foods that their mothers consume, like foods known to contribute to gas, or spicy foods. Your baby will express her discomfort by fussing or even nursing more often than usual. He might even develop a small rash. These symptoms don’t last long, and all you have to do is avoid foods linked to a negative reaction.

Don’t beat yourself up; adults don’t always feel well after eating certain foods, and so do babies. You have nothing to blame yourself for. It’s a natural part of life. Again, remind yourself not to panic. Chances are, your baby will be fine!

 Caffeine and Breastfeeding

Many women worry that they’ll have to give up their java when breastfeeding, which can be disconcerting, especially keeping up with the high-energy demands of being a parent. The good news is, you can still consume caffeine and it won’t affect your breastmilk. Generally, the rule of thumb is five ounces or less (or 750 milliliters) of tea or coffee.  Since you’re probably used to drinking in large amounts, like eight ounces, you might want to use a measuring cup to avoid overdoing it.

Alcohol and Breastfeeding

You’ve probably been told different things about drinking alcohol when you’re breastfeeding. Some are adamant that it will damage your milk, while others assure you that it’s okay to drink in moderation. So, what gives?

We don’t know as definitively about alcohol’s effect on breastfeeding as we do about pregnancy and alcohol consumption. However, we do know that it can reduce milk supply and cause your milk to taste differently.

There are definitely considerations to keep in mind. Drinking one glass of alcohol is much safer than three tumblers full of whiskey. It’s much better and probably safe to drink one drink a day. Try to drink only occasionally rather than on a daily basis. Taking in an excess of alcohol may reduce milk supply and can cause your milk to taste differently.

You should also remember that the alcohol stays in your milk for a while. Tips to make sure that alcohol consumption doesn’t interfere with breastfeeding is to delay breastfeeding for a minimum of two hours after drinking. You can do this more easily by pumping or feeding right before drinking.

So, when your friends and family make well-meaning suggestions regarding alcohol and nursing, remember that it isn’t black and white. Keep your consumption in check, absolutely. But don’t beat yourself up for having a drink every once so often.

We all need to indulge once in a while, right?

Keep Your Chin Up, You’re Going to be Just Fine

Chances are, your diet isn’t going to affect your baby, and if it does, it will only do so temporarily and mildly. Listen to your baby’s cues and keep your caffeine and alcohol consumption in check, and you’ll be just fine.

One comment

  • Lactose is in the mother’s milk regardless of whether the mother consumes milk or not. A milk allergy is not lactose intolerance- it is an allergy to a milk protein.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *