What Are the Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding?

Dee Saale
Dee Saale

In most cases, the list of foods to avoid while breastfeeding is short. Although typically found in beverages, most nursing mothers tend to limit the amounts of caffeine that they consume. In addition, alcoholic beverages should be avoided, unless the mother is planning on discarding the breast milk that is affected by the alcohol. Additionally, peppermint is believed to lower the supply of breast milk, so it should generally be avoided. Some babies do develop allergies as well, so when the allergen is discovered, those would be foods to avoid while breastfeeding.

Many mothers avoid prunes while breastfeeding.
Many mothers avoid prunes while breastfeeding.

Caffeine will not harm a nursing infant if it is consumed by the breastfeeding mother in limited quantities. Most breastfeeding advocates believe that a mother can safely consume about 2 cups (about 476 milliliters) of coffee per day without affecting the infant. If the mother drinks more caffeine than that, it may cause increased sleeplessness in the baby. Caffeine is found in many sources, such as coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, and chocolate. Chocolate may seem harmless, but since it is found in many products, such as candy, pudding, cocoa, cookies, and frosting, it may push a nursing mother over the recommended limit for caffeine.

Energy drinks can cause problems while breastfeeding.
Energy drinks can cause problems while breastfeeding.

Although alcohol is not a food, it is often listed as one of the foods to avoid while breastfeeding. If a nursing mother were to consume several alcoholic beverages, it could cause serious permanent harm to an infant. Many mothers tend to avoid alcoholic beverages altogether, while others discard the breast milk that is affected by the alcohol. In the meantime, they may give the infant breast milk that they had previously pumped and stored.

Breastfeeding mothers should avoid some foods, such as peppermint.
Breastfeeding mothers should avoid some foods, such as peppermint.

Peppermint is often listed as an ingredient to be avoided during breastfeeding as well. It is believed to lower a mother’s supply of breast milk. As a result, a nursing mother should avoid peppermint teas, candy, cough drops, or foods made from peppermint oil.

Some mothers avoid garlic in an effort to prevent colic issues.
Some mothers avoid garlic in an effort to prevent colic issues.

Typically, most breastfeeding mothers can eat nearly any food product without harming her nursing infant. If a baby develops an allergy to a specific food, it may take time to discover what food is causing the problem. Some of the most common offenders include dairy, soy, wheat, nuts, and eggs. If a baby or her mother is not allergic to those products, there is no need to add them to the list of foods to avoid while breastfeeding.

Many mothers avoid foods that cause gas, such as cauliflower, while breastfeeding.
Many mothers avoid foods that cause gas, such as cauliflower, while breastfeeding.

Some babies also suffer from colic or gas. Although colic or gas can be a naturally occurring event, some people believe that it stems from foods that a mother has eaten. As a result, many mothers avoid foods such as onion, garlic, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, cherries, broccoli, and prunes. Sometimes avoiding these products reduces the symptoms of colic or gas, other times it makes no noticeable change. In addition, while avoiding beans may be common in some cultures, such as the United States, nursing mothers in other cultures, such as Africa, would never dream of avoiding such foods.

Breastfeeding mothers should avoid eating nuts.
Breastfeeding mothers should avoid eating nuts.
Peppermint candy should be avoided during breastfeeding because it lowers the supply of breast milk.
Peppermint candy should be avoided during breastfeeding because it lowers the supply of breast milk.
Nursing mothers should avoid the caffeine in chocolate and can use carob as a substitute in recipes.
Nursing mothers should avoid the caffeine in chocolate and can use carob as a substitute in recipes.
Colic can be frustrating for both the baby and the parents, because it often takes time to identify triggers..
Colic can be frustrating for both the baby and the parents, because it often takes time to identify triggers..
Dee Saale
Dee Saale

Dee is a freelance writer based in Colorado. She has a B.A. in English Literature, as well as a law degree. Dee is especially interested in topics relating to medicine, legal issues, and home improvement, which are her specialty when contributing to wiseGEEK.

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