10 Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding

When you’re breastfeeding, it’s best to stick to healthy, nutrient-rich foods and limit or completely avoid some other choices. Here’s a list of 10 foods to avoid while breastfeeding that are simply too unhealthy to include in your diet. You can still eat them once you wean your baby from breast milk, though! And don’t forget to try the healthy meals on our list, instead! They’re packed with nutrients that will help keep you and your new baby healthy. Enjoy!

01. Caffeine

Foods that contain caffeine can reduce milk production by as much as fifty percent. Caffeine’s stimulating properties cause the adrenal glands to release the hormone epinephrine, which interrupts the production of prolactin (the hormone responsible for milk production). The longer a mother has abstained from consuming caffeine-containing foods and beverages, the greater amount of time it will take for her body to return to its pre-pregnancy levels of prolactin.

02. Alcohol

Alcohol is one of the most common foods to avoid while breastfeeding. Alcohol passes through your breast milk and can lead to low birth weight, fetal alcohol syndrome and other developmental delays. If you are going to drink, wait 2 hours after drinking alcohol before breastfeeding.

If you have questions about what specific drinks contain alcohol or how much of a certain type of drink you need to reach the legal limit, we recommend checking out The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Breastfeeding (2015).

03. Fish High in Mercury

There are many different types of fish high in mercury, so you should do your research before deciding what’s safe for your breastfeeding partner and baby. The following ten foods all contain large amounts of mercury: tuna, shark, swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, grouper or sea bass (or other bottom-feeders), shrimp or prawns (in most cases), char or haddock from the Great Lakes region.

04. Unpasteurized Dairy

Many people have been told that they can consume anything while breastfeeding as long as they go with the baby, but this is not the case. Some healthy foods such as unpasteurized dairy should be avoided to protect both mom and baby from disease.

05. Processed Meats

According to the World Health Organization, processed meats are classified as a group 1 carcinogen. When you’re breastfeeding, it’s important that you avoid these types of foods because they have been linked with certain cancers in both children and adults.

06. Refined Sugars

One of the biggest things that new breastfeeding moms need to know is what foods they should avoid while they’re breastfeeding. Sugars in particular can be one of those items that are not only unhealthy but harmful for babies as well. High levels of sugar can cause blood sugar spikes and create a need for your baby to eat more often, which means you’ll have to do more work at night and will also have a difficult time getting any sleep.

07. Some Artificial Sweeteners

Some artificial sweeteners can be a problem for breastfeeding moms because they are linked with increased rates of obesity and diabetes. But some natural alternatives are safe for you and your baby. Some examples include stevia, honey, agave nectar and brown rice syrup.

08. High-Sodium Foods

High-sodium foods are not recommended while breastfeeding because they may cause your baby’s stomach to bloat, which can lead to gas and diarrhea. To avoid this, try eating low-sodium foods and watching how much salt is in the food before you buy it.

09. Trans Fats

Trans fats have been shown to have adverse effects on your baby’s brain development. They are often found in fried foods, such as french fries and doughnuts. In a study done in 2006, infants who were fed breast milk from mothers who ate trans fats had lower IQs than babies of mothers who did not eat trans fats.

10. Excessive Amounts of Vitamin-A

One of the best foods to eat while breastfeeding is fish, which provides healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids. Fish can also be high in mercury, so make sure you are aware of how much Vitamin A you are getting from your food. The recommended amount of Vitamin A is 4000 IU per day. If you have a family history of liver disease or asthma, it is recommended that you stay below 2500 IU per day.

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