There are foods to avoid while breastfeeding.

Your nursing baby is what you eat. You want him to get the best nutrition possible and to avoid any foods that could cause harm. With so many contradicting information, it is not unusual for new mothers to avoid whole food groups because they are afraid.

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Good news! The list of foods you should avoid while nursing isn’t nearly as extensive as you might think. Why? Why? Because your milk-producing cells and the mammary glands which produce your milk help regulate how much of your food and drink reaches your baby through breast milk.

Continue reading to find out the facts about alcohol, caffeine, and other foods considered taboo during pregnancy.

Verdict: Safe

According to Paula Meier (Ph.D., director for clinical and lactation in Rush University Medical Center in Chicago) and president of International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation), nursing moms shouldn’t be afraid of spicy foods.

Dr. Meier states that the baby will be familiar with the tastes of Mom by the time she starts breastfeeding. She says that if a mother has had a variety of foods during pregnancy, it can alter the taste and smells of the amniotic fluid the baby is exposed too. “Basically, breastfeeding is the next step from the amniotic liquid into the breastmilk.”

Some foods that mothers avoid breastfeeding, like spicy and spicy foods, can actually be tempting to their babies. Researchers Julie Mennella, Gary Beauchamp and others conducted a study where mothers who were breastfeeding their babies received a garlic pill. The placebo was given to the other mothers. Babies who were exposed to garlic had a longer nursing time, more difficulty sucking, and consumed more garlic-scented milk.

If moms suspect that there is a link between what they eat and their child’s behavior, they will likely restrict their diet. While the cause-and-effect theory may seem to be enough for moms, Dr. Meier said she would like more evidence to confirm her suspicions.

To be able to say that a baby was breastfed, I would need to see normal stools. It is very, very rare for a baby to have anything that could be considered a contraindication for breastfeeding.

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Verdict: Safe in Moderation

The rules regarding alcohol are changed once your baby is born. Experts say that it is safe to consume one to two alcoholic beverages per week, which is equivalent to a 12-ounce beer, a 4-ounce glass wine or an ounce of hard liquor. Although alcohol can pass through breast milk, it is usually only in very small amounts.

Keep this in mind when it comes to timing: Once you feel no alcohol effects, it is safe to feed. Liz Pevytoe is a certified lactation consultant and registered nurse.

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Verdict: Safe in Moderation says that breastfeeding mothers can enjoy moderate amounts of coffee, tea, and caffeine-containing sodas. Breast milk typically contains less than 1% of the caffeine that the mother ingested. The baby will not be exposed to caffeine if they have consumed less than three cups of coffee throughout the day.

If your infant seems more fussy or irritable if you are consuming excessive caffeine (usually more that five caffeinated drinks per day), you might consider reducing your caffeine intake or waiting until your child is older to reintroduce caffeine.

Research has shown that most infants’ sleep quality was not affected by maternal caffeine intake by the age of three to six months.

Based on clinical evidence, I recommend that my patients wait until their infants are at least three months to reintroduce coffee into their diet. Then, I suggest they watch for signs of discomfort and restlessness in their baby,” states Alicia C. Simpson MS RD IBCLC LD. This excerpt is taken from her book, Boost Your Milk: A Comprehensive Guide for Nursing Mothers to Ensure a Healthy Supply. For moms who work outside the house, I recommend that you label any pumped milk you have made after consuming caffeine. This will ensure that your infant does not get this milk before bedtime or naptime.

Although coffee, tea, chocolate and soda are all obvious sources of caffeine (and they are), there is also significant caffeine in chocolate- and coffee-flavored foods and beverages. Decaffeinated coffee contains some caffeine, so be aware if your baby is sensitive to it.


Verdict: Safe in Moderation

Breastfeeding mothers who have waited for sushi for 40 weeks can now rest easy knowing that sushi does not contain high-mercury fish. Simpson says this is because Listeria bacteria, which is found in undercooked foods can not be transmitted easily through breast milk.

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If you are breastfeeding and want to enjoy low-mercury sushi, please limit your intake to no more than three meals (a maximum of twelve ounces). Low levels of mercury are found in salmon, flounder and pollock.