PARENTS

Foods To Avoid When You're Breastfeeding

25/01/2010 12:54 | Updated 22 May 2015

Once you've had your baby you may think life will return to normal and you can tuck into your favourite foods and tipples with abandon.

But if you've opted to breastfeed you may still have to be cautious with some food and alcohol which will find their way into your breast milk.

Of course, this is one of the many positives of breastfeeding -- the milk can take on a hint of the food's flavour -- but it also means that you could find that some food does not agree with your baby.

So what should you eat or avoid when breastfeeding?

Healthy foods: Your diet should be similar to the one you ate when you were pregnant but without the cravings! A well balanced, varied diet is ideal. You don't need lots of extra calories as your body should have some fat reserves laid down in pregnancy. Despite that, you may find yourself feeling very peckish!

Fish: Again, the same as with pregnancy, which is no more than two portions of oily fish a week (fresh tuna, mackerel, sardines and trout). Canned tuna does not count as an oily fish.

Peanuts: Advice on this is not very clear. According to the Food Standards Agency there isn't clear evidence of a link between eating peanuts when breastfeeding and your baby developing an allergy so it recommends to continue eating them if you like them, unless you are allergic. However, if there is a history of allergies in your family your baby may be at higher risk. If you think your child may be allergic to peanuts, see your GP.

Alcohol: The Department of Health advises that an occasional drink is unlikely to harm the baby and suggests avoiding alcohol just before feeding and to wait until the last feed of the day if you want to have a drink. Alcohol may make your milk smell different, make the baby too sleepy or affect their digestion.

However, the advice about alcohol is often conflicting and unclear. Head to the The La Leche League FAQ for an in depth discussion of the conflicting advice.

Vitamins: If you're eating a balanced, varied diet these should not be necessary. If you were lacking Vitamin D in pregnancy you might be advised to take a supplement of 10 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D a day. However, your baby will get all the Vitamin D she needs from exposure to sunlight (even in winter) every few days.

Spicy and other food: There are no hard and fast rules about other foods. Some babies react to certain foods while others don't. Mine didn't seem too keen if I went overboard on the garlic, strawberries or brussel sprouts so avoided these while they were little. By the time they were bigger, the problem seemed to have resolved itself.

Again, there is no concrete research on this and much of the advice is anecdotal. The food you eat certainly affects the flavour of the milk, but it doesn't mean that - for example - cabbage will make your baby more windy. Some argue that the varied flavours you provide help to make a baby less fussy about trying new foods. Your best bet is to eat what you like and if you notice a certain food affects your baby every time you eat it, cut it out for a short while before slowly re-introducing it.

Do you find you have to avoid certain foods while breastfeeding? Or have you heard some funny old wives' tales?

Source (Department of Health Pregnancy and Alcohol publication)

Source (Food Standards Agency)

More useful advice about breastfeeding and food over on LLLI Health Advisory Council member, Dr Jack Newman's, Breastfeeding Myths website.

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