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Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Nursing No No's

If you are interesting in information on Breast Feeding, please read my previous post on Nursing Nutrition. In this post, I am going to talk about things to avoid when nursing.

Food related dangers:

Mercury and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) are chemical pollutants in some fish and can be harmful because they are passed through breast milk and can damage the nervous system. Mercury is found in high levels in shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. Limit tuna to 12 ounces per week or less.

Alcohol does pass into breast milk. An occasional drink may be fine, but it may also cause your baby to be less alert and in excess alcohol can affect brain development. One way women get around this is to nurse, then have a drink, then “pump and dump.” This means you pump after drinking and throw the milk away. If you do not choose to pump and dump, at least wait two hours after drinking one drink to nurse. Never have more than one drink.

Caffeine does also pass into breastmilk. You can have a cup of coffee or caffeinated soda, but just remember that it may contribute to colic or just plain fussiness in your baby. Some babies are even sensitive to the amount you may be getting in chocolate!

The same food safety precautions that you took while pregnant should also be taken while nursing. Cook food to proper temperatures, avoid raw or undercooked meat, unpasteurized milk and cheese, and chill food promptly to store.

Non food related dangers:

Smoking should also be avoided when nursing because nicotine passes into breast milk. Nicotine can affect your ‘letdown’ reflex, decrease milk supply, and increase chances of colic, sinus infection, or fussiness. Smoking near a child (a spouse who smokes) is also dangerous because you are exposing the baby to secondhand smoke, increasing risk of asthma and allergies and possibly getting burned.

Certain medications can pass into breast milk, too. Most pass in concentrations that are too low to harm your baby, but to be sure check with your doctor.

Recreational drugs also pass into breast milk and should never be used--bad for you and for baby!

Did you know?

Eating strongly flavored foods like onions, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, beans, or spicy food can flavor breast milk. These flavors make some babies fussy and other babies do not even notice. If you do think certain foods are upsetting your baby, avoid them! Babies are fussy enough without us eating things that may cause them to be even more fussy!

I had quite a bit of garlic yesterday and Basil was not a happy boy last night and didn’t want to get to bed. It makes me wonder if is was coincidence or if it was the garlic!

Tune in for the next post on how to increase your milk supply!

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About the Author


Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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