Like pregnancy, nursing or breastfeeding is critical both for the mother and the baby. There is no denying the fact that a lactating mother needs to eat well during this period. It is natural for her to feel more hungry and thirsty during this phase (lactation). However, what a lactating mother eats or drinks can have an impact on the baby (directly or indirectly). There is a possibility of the baby being allergic to certain kind of foods. Thus, a lactating mother should be careful with her choice of foods.
Avoiding the following foods and drinks during breastfeeding is a healthy idea for the mother and the baby.
It can be quite a heartbreak for a lactating mother to give up on chocolates during the weaning period. From mood swings to food cravings, chocolates were their to-go food during pregnancy. It was a saviour that made life much easier during pregnancy. The reason chocolates find its way into this list is because having chocolates in excess during breastfeeding can have a laxative effect on the baby. However, having said that, you can still have chocolates, but in moderation, if it does not affect your bundle of joy.
2. Dairy products (Cow milk)
Many breastfed babies are found to be allergic to dairy products. However, it should not be confused with lactose intolerance. It is the protein found in cow's milk that is the main wrecker-in-chief. The reactions and symptoms may vary from individual to individual. Some common symptoms associated with cow's milk protein intolerance include eczema, diarrhoea, vomiting, constipation, stuffy nose, and wheezing to name a few. In case your baby shows any of the mentioned symptoms, consult a paediatrician. Most doctors recommend eliminating cow's milk and related dairy products from your diet for a week. If your child does not show any symptoms during this period, you know where the problem lies. In such a case, you will have to give up on dairy products (at least during the weaning period).
Doctors often advise lactating mothers to avoid sea fish. Sea fish like tuna, shark and mackerel (king) contain high levels of mercury. If a breastfeeding mother eats these fish, the mercury gets into her milk. Mercury is known to be highly toxic. Exposure to mercury (acute to chronic) can interfere with the overall development of the baby. Though a lactating woman can still have other fish, it is advised to have the fish properly cooked before eating (avoid raw fish as much as you can).
Drinking alcohol while breastfeeding can spell doom for your baby. The presence of alcohol in the mother's milk has the potential to interfere with the normal and healthy growth of the baby. It can also result in extreme weakness and drowsiness in the baby. If, for some unavoidable reasons, you drink a peg or two, make sure that you don't breastfeed the baby for at least 2-3 hours (or till your body is completely free of alcohol). Just like alcohol, lactating mothers should also avoid smoking during this period.
5. Processed foods
Binging on your favourite processed foods may not be a healthy idea for lactating mothers. The additives and preservatives present in processed foods can affect the baby adversely. The additives can cause allergic reactions in the baby. Some, if not all, babies also get mood swings. They get cranky, agitated and fussy.
In addition to these, lactating mothers should also avoid coffee, hot and spicy foods, acidic foods (especially those rich in Vitamin C), soy, peanuts, tomatoes, cabbage.