Many new mothers wonder if they should be on a special diet while breastfeeding, but the answer is no. For most breastfeeding moms, there are no foods you have to avoid. But you may find that some foods cause stomach upset in your baby. You can try avoiding those foods to see if your baby feels better, and you can ask your baby’s doctor for help.
What are the most important breastfeeding tips for breastfeeding?
- Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. A common suggestion is to drink a glass of water or other beverage every time you breastfeed.
- Limit drinks with added sugars, such as sodas and fruit drinks.
- Drinking a moderate amount of coffee (up to 1 to 2 cups a day) or other caffeinated beverages does not cause a problem for most breastfeeding babies. But too much caffeine can cause a baby to be fussy or not sleep well.
- In addition to healthy food choices, some breastfeeding women may need a multivitamin and mineral supplement. Talk with your doctor to find out if you need a supplement. Your doctor may recommend that you continue taking your prenatal vitamin while breastfeeding.
Is it safe to smoke, drink, or do drugs while breastfeeding?
- If you smoke, the best thing you can do for yourself and your baby is to quit as soon as possible. If you can’t quit, it is still better to breastfeed because it may protect your baby from respiratory problems and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Be sure to smoke away from your baby, and change your clothes to keep your baby away from the chemicals smoking leaves behind. Ask a doctor or nurse for help quitting smoking.
- You should avoid alcohol in large amounts. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), an occasional drink is fine. The AAP recommends waiting two or more hours before nursing. You also can pump milk before you drink to feed your baby later.
- It is not safe for you to use an illegal drug. Drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, heroin, and PCP can harm your baby. Some reported side effects in babies include seizures, vomiting, poor feeding, and tremors.
Can a baby be allergic to breastmilk?
Research shows that what you eat affects your milk only slightly. Babies love the flavors of foods that come through the milk. Sometimes a baby may be sensitive to something the mother eats, such as dairy products like eggs or milk and cheese.
Watch your baby for the symptoms listed below, which could indicate that your baby has an allergy or sensitivity to something you eat:
- Diarrhea, vomiting, green stools with mucus and/or blood
- Rash, eczema (EG-zuh-muh), dermatitis, hives, dry skin
- Fussiness during and/or after feedings
- Inconsolable crying for long periods
- Sudden waking with discomfort
- Wheezing or coughing
These signs do not mean your baby is allergic to your milk, only to something that you ate. You may need to stop eating whatever is bothering your baby or eat less of it. You may find that after a few months you can eat the food again with better results.
Talk with your baby’s doctor if you notice any of the symptoms listed above. If your baby ever has problems breathing, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.
Does my breastfed baby have special needs if I am vegan?
If you follow a vegan diet or one that does not include any forms of animal protein, you or your baby might not get enough vitamin B12 in your bodies. In a baby, B12 deficiency can cause symptoms such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Slow motor development
- Being very tired
- Weak muscles
- Blood problems
You can protect your and your baby’s health by taking vitamin B12 supplements while breastfeeding. Talk to your doctor about your vitamin B12 needs.