5 Things You Actually Don't Have to Avoid While Breastfeeding
By Michelle Clookie, IBCLC
You spent the entirety of your pregnancy steering clear of certain foods (raise your hand if you had sushi delivered to your hospital room!), only to hear that if you’re breastfeeding, there’s a whole new slew of items to avoid. Well, here’s the skinny: very little of what you put in your body, if you are choosing safe and healthy options, will be harmful to your baby. However, some babies might have allergies or food sensitivities, and there are some very common herbs that can be detrimental to our milk supply. As always, it’s not one size fits all, but let’s talk about the most common things that come up.
Studies have found that consuming turmeric is safe for breastfeeding mamas. Because of the spice’s anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric cream is actually used by some as a topical ointment to help with inflammation during mastitis. However, ingesting large amounts of turmeric has been known to affect milk supply in some moms, so you may not want to chug golden milk all day long. If you are on a turmeric kick, just be aware of your supply; if you notice any change, consider reducing the amount you are consuming.
Caffeine is safe to consume during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. I mean, for some of us it’s basically our lifeblood in the morning after those long nights, and that’s ok—treat yourself mama! (You can find suggested caffeine quantity guidelines here.) But before you celebrate with a carafe of cold brew, keep in mind that caffeine can be dehydrating, so make sure you are consuming adequate amounts of water in conjunction with your latte.
HERBS + ESSENTIAL OILS
I love when herbal teas and essential oils can help a mama out! In fact, one of my favorites is a nutrient-dense plant found in the Philippines called Moringa, which can help increase milk supply. But it’s key to remember that herbs and essential oils are medicine, and medical professionals should be consulted before adding these to your shopping list. Why? Because there are several commonly used herbs that may have not so commonly known side effects. Fenugreek for example, is an herb used to help increase milk supply, but it can be harmful to mamas with a thyroid condition. Peppermint and sage are two more to be aware of—these herbs and essential oils are actually used to help decrease milk supply so they’re both no-no’s (unless that’s what you need!). Enjoy natural remedies, but ask questions and do your research!
There are many things to consider when talking about alcohol and breastfeeding, but I’m speaking directly to the mama who really doesn’t want to pass on that glass of wine (or two!) on her first night out after baby. And why wouldn’t you want to cheers to the fact that you created and birthed a tiny human? You deserve it! Pop that bottle, because studies have shown that having a drink is not harmful to baby. The best time to have one is right after feeding to give your body time to process the alcohol before the next feed or pumping session. For more information on studies, amounts, and guidelines click here.
Dairy and gluten can be sensitivities for some babies, just like they are for some adults. However, before you go limiting your diet because your baby is spitting up, ask for help! Here’s why: reflux, green poops, gassiness, and general fussiness can all be caused by a dairy allergy, but a lot of times the cause can be a host of other things. A good rule of thumb is that if a food doesn’t sit well with you, your body probably isn’t breaking it down very well, and it may not sit well with your baby either. Avoid those things. Other than that, get a full assessment of your baby’s feeding with an IBCLC before passing on the yogurt or bowl of ice cream!
Michelle Clookie is a Lactation Consultant, and also works for the Postpartum Health Alliance supporting families in their parenting journey. As a Lactation Consultant, Michelle works to help families reach their unique goals for feeding their babies, and is passionate about normalizing all things motherhood. Michelle also works to provide Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder (PMADs) awareness by providing families, and clinicians with education through the work she does with the San Diego Postpartum Health Alliance.
Before shifting her work focus after her first born, Michelle spent 9 years in non-profit working as a Training and Development Director. Michelle, along with her husband Jeremy, live in San Diego with their three children.