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Breastfeeding And Diet: A Look At Sensitivity To Certain Foods or Drinks

You don't need a special diet during breastfeeding, but there are certain things you should be aware of…

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Being pregnant is always a good excuse to eat well and indulge in special treats. Yet once your cute little bundle is in your arms, how you’re going to get back into your favourite jeans is most probably on your research list (along with how to get enough sleep to avoid zombie-like behaviour). However, eating right is extremely important for you and your baby, so we’ve highlighted the dos and don’ts.

Many women are harsh on themselves when it comes to getting rid of the post-baby fat, but doctors recommend mothers who are nursing to stay on a very healthy diet to provide their babies with all the nutrients they need. “Nursing mothers should give close attention to what they are eating as their breast milk should meet their babies’ nutritional needs,” paediatrician Dr Osama Khalid said. “If a mother’s diet is low in calories or it relies on one food group, it can affect the quality and quantity of her milk.”

When women start breastfeeding, they might feel extra hungry throughout the day and should be aware that it is not an easy task as it drains them of energy and makes them feel sleepy all the time. That’s because the body is working around the clock to produce breast milk for the baby, according to Khalid. “I recommend mothers to eat small meals and concentrate on healthy snacks between their meals to help control their hunger and keep their energy high,” he said. “When breastfeeding, mothers don’t receive the nutrients they need, their bodies draw on reserves and will eventually become exhausted. This will also lead to mothers being unable to meet the physical demands needed for caring for their infants,” Khalid said. In fact, many doctors ask nursing mothers to take supplements. Usually that entails taking some that contain 10 micrograms of vitamin D as babies consume the vitamin D found in breast milk, making it necessary for mothers to replenish the loss, according to the paediatrician.

As a nursing mum you need to eat, but not everything agrees with your baby. Here’s Khalid’s list of foods and beverages that could cause discomfort.

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You probably feel like a train wreck from not getting enough sleep and think of a blessed cup of Joe as your saviour but drinking coffee does have its downside. Caffeine does work its way into breast milk and infants’ bodies are not prepared to process it as quickly as adults. If you are looking for your newborn to have a good night’s sleep, you should not have any coffee until the baby falls asleep.

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Dairy products:

If your infant is usually fussy after breastfeeding, has eczema or any other skin problems or suffers from sleep issues, an elimination diet is a good place to start. Avoiding dairy products is recommended for a couple of weeks. If you see an improvement, then a dairy allergy is the cause of the infant’s distresses.

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When it comes to seafood, nursing mothers need to be selective with what they eat. This type of food is high in mercury, which can find its way into the milk they are feeding their babies. You should limit your seafood intake exactly the way you did during your pregnancy.

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If the infant’s family has an allergy history, as a breastfeeding mother, you should make sure not to consume any peanuts or any other type of nuts. The allergenic compounds in nuts can spread via breast milk. If you are not sure whether your baby is allergic to nuts or not, you should watch for wheezing, rashes or hives on the baby’s body, as they can be signs of an allergic reaction.

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Cocoa is a strong source of caffeine, but you don’t have to avoid it entirely. Mothers should keep a close eye on their babies’ behaviour and what they find in diapers. If the baby becomes fussy or has a runny tummy after you eat chocolate, this means it’s time to exclude it from your diet.

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Garlic and onions:

The pungent smell of these two vegetables can make its way into breast milk. So if you find your new born is unwilling to nurse or pulls away during nursing time, you should make a note to see if it’s close to the time you last ate something that has garlic or onions.

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The infant’s gastrointestinal tract is still immature and some of the compounds in citrus fruits can be irritating for the baby. The zesty fruits can cause fussiness, the need to spit food out and diaper rashes. If you are looking for a good source of vitamin C, try having some pineapple or mango instead.

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Gluten intolerance might be the reason a newborn has bloody stools. If the baby is usually finicky and suffers from tummy pain, ingesting wheat could be the reason. Like dairy, the best way to determine if wheat is an issue is to follow an elimination diet. The slow restoration helps to pinpoint the allergy or intolerance and opens the door to keep other foods back in rotation.

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Parsley or peppermint:

The problem with these two herbs is that they come with a risk of reducing milk supply. If nursing mothers consume big amounts, this will dry up their milk supply and their babies will be hungrier than usual.

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