As with so many things, there isn’t one breastfeeding diet that works for all Moms and babies, but you can stop worrying about these three common misconceptions:
- Eating leafy greens will cause bloating and cramps in my baby. If that’s all you eat, then so-called cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower may cause a bit of gas. Let’s face it, though, you’re unlikely to only eat that! Moderate amounts are healthy for you and baby, and they’ll supply many essential nutrients.
- I must drink cow’s milk and eat dairy products to make mother’s milk and to ensure enough calcium for my baby. Says who? As one of the top six allergenic foods, a high-in-dairy diet is more likely to cause digestive discomfort in your baby. Extra calcium is important; a varied diet helps ensure recommended calcium levels, but most breastfeeding mothers need a supplement too.
- I must avoid fruit while breastfeeding so Baby doesn’t get an acid rash. There is almost nothing unhealthy about a diet rich in fruit – Mother Nature’s own fast food! Eat fruit on its own, separate sweet from acidic fruits, or eat only one type at a time. Whole fruit is preferable to juice – especially commercial juices.
Foods to eat
The healthier you are, the healthier your baby will be. Eat produce that is as fresh, seasonal, ripe, unrefined and unprocessed as possible. Get balance and variety by choosing from different food groups and colours, on a regular rotational basis. Eat with all your senses. Also, now is not the time to diet; breastfeeding is hungry work, so eat smaller meals more often to keep your energy up. To make sure you produce enough milk, drink plenty of water too. If Baby cramps or hiccups, you may need more magnesium-rich foods like bananas, green vegetables and nuts. Herbal teas like rooibos and chamomile tea can also help, but stick to two or three cups of fairly weak tea a day. Your iron supplement might also be causing Baby to cramp. If Baby never seems satisfied, drink a glass of water every time you breastfeed, and eat smaller meals more often. Do the same for Baby – encourage frequent latching and suckling.
Foods to avoid
Allergenic foods like shellfish, dairy, peanuts or soy may cause problems, so if one of your close family members has a severe allergy, introduce these slowly to your diet after birth to see how Baby reacts. Alcohol is, of course, best avoided. If you do drink, try not to feed Baby within the next 90 minutes. Remember, the only proven safe level of alcohol is none – so, rather safe than sorry, Mom! If you eat too many dairy or grain-based foods, or too many acidic foods like red meat and pickles, Baby may have excess mucus or break out in a rash. You may think you need cow’s milk to make mother’s milk (simply not true), or that bread will give you energy, but precisely these foods often cause discomfort in babies.