When you’re pregnant, it feels like there is a very long list of things to avoid — soft cheeses, deli meat, sushi. The list of no-gos can make meal prep and eating out a bit stressful.
Luckily, once your baby has said, “Hello, world!,” the list of things you should avoid shrinks to a much more manageable amount. Even so, when you’re breastfeeding, there are certain foods and drinks that you should steer clear of or enjoy only in moderation.
5 Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding
Here are the items we recommend consuming in moderation or skipping all together while you’re breastfeeding:
If you’ve been avoiding caffeine through pregnancy, it’s alright to start consuming a bit after the baby is born, though it’s important to limit consumption to less than three cups of coffee a day. With that said, you may notice your baby is fussy after feeding.
If that’s the case, cut down on the amount of caffeine you’re drinking as that may be the culprit. One thing to keep in mind is that caffeine is often found in things like energy drinks and chocolate bars that could increase your daily total unknowingly.
While it’s recommended you skip drinking all alcoholic drinks while pregnant, it is safe to consume alcohol in moderate amounts while breastfeeding. However, the recommended amount is only 1-2 alcoholic drinks per week so you can’t go enjoying nightly happy hour just yet. Since small amounts of alcohol can pass through your breast milk after you imbibe, it’s best to not feed until you can no longer feel the effects of alcohol.
When you’re breastfeeding, you can start to enjoy sushi and bagels with lox again, but it is wise to limit the amount of mercury you’re consuming. It’s recommended that you eat only one serving a week of fish with high mercury levels, including albacore tuna, swordfish, and bluefish as mercury can damage an infant’s nervous system.
While minimal amounts of the foods you consume are passed on to your baby through breastfeeding, you may notice that your baby is affected by certain allergens, including dairy, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, and soy.
Symptoms of an allergy vary, but some babies may develop eczema or have blood in their stool. Before cutting out any allergen from your diet, be sure to speak with a healthcare professional to understand the best course of action.
Since a small amount of what you eat is passed on to the baby through your breast milk, it’s best to avoid large amounts of things like hot peppers, garlic, and curries. These big-flavor items can change the taste of your breast milk slightly that can sometimes make it difficult for the baby to latch.
The good news is that while you’re breastfeeding your diet is pretty much wide open. Most importantly, just eat a wide variety of nutritious foods to make sure you’re stocking up on all of the necessary nutrients, eat regularly to keep your energy up, and be sure to stay hydrated.
When I’m not hanging out with my three-year-old and husband in Brooklyn, I’m busy writing stories for Mamas Uncut and managing PR + Marketing for Magnolia Bakery, based in New York City. On weekends, you can usually find me at a local park or playground pushing my daughter on the swings, “researching” the best almond croissants in Park Slope or launching into impromptu family dance parties at home, the sidewalk or, every once in awhile, a restaurant bathroom. I’m still trying to master the whole parenting thing, but I have learned that copious amounts of coffee, humor and humility are involved on a daily basis.