Breast milk is the formula that every child deserves. It won’t be incorrect to say that if you want your baby to be free from all sorts of maladies, feeding breast milk can make all the difference. Did you know breastfeeding also helps in building a strong bond between the mother and child? That’s because during this process, oxytocin is released in the body. But unfortunately, everything will go in vain, if you don’t consume a proper diet. According to doctors, there are certain foods that are classified as the worst foods when you are breastfeeding.
According to Dr Amodita Ahuja, who is a consultant obstetrician, gynecologist, laparoscopic surgeon and infertility specialist, breast milk is a powerhouse of nutrients that will decide the future health of your newborn. The nutrients in breast milk are easily digested by the newborn, which is a big advantage.
But sometimes the food consumed by the mother can determine the quantity and quality of breast milk, along with its flavour. So, mothers have to be very careful about what they eat.
It’s usually said that if the mother is suffering from gas-related issues, the baby can also have gas. In that case, we need to know what the mother has consumed, which has caused such effects. Some of the foods that can produce gas are broccoli, cabbage, beans like rajma, chickpeas, black chickpeas, lentils, peanuts, potatoes, and corn.
“Also, before excluding such foods from a mother’s diet, it is important to rule out that the baby is not gasping too much air, while breastfeeding,” suggests Dr Ahuja.
The most common sources of caffeine are tea, coffee and soft drinks. Although caffeine gets transferred to the baby through mother’s milk, it is usually less than 1% of the daily consumption of caffeine. The problem begins when it starts accumulating in the infant’s body, if the mother consumes more than five cups a day. This can lead to caffeine stimulation.
It can lead to excessive crying in infants, as well as the inability to sleep. Also, caffeine decreases the iron content of the milk, thereby causing anaemia in the baby.
It is ideal to avoid alcohol completely, but if you have cravings, restrict to one to two glasses only, and ensure that you don’t feed your baby at least four hours after the last drink. Always breastfeed your baby and then consume alcohol. Alcohol enters the breast milk in good amounts, and can make the baby drowsy.
“All fat soluble vitamins like vitamin A and D can get concentrated in the breast milk, and can cause toxicity in the infant. Therefore, it is recommended to take supplements, only if you are deficient. And the recommended dosage in such cases is not more than 1200-1300mcg/day,” suggests Dr Ahuja.
Certain kinds of fish that are high in mercury content like king mackerel, swordfish, shark, and tilefish. If consumed in large quantities, it can cause mercury poisoning in some infants, delaying their cognitive and psychomotor abilities. What you can consume is 2-3 servings per week of a variety of different fish like sardines, crabs, squids, lobsters, and salmon.
Sometimes, consumption of citrus fruits like oranges, lemon, and amla can irritate an infant’s gut, causing diarrhoea and diaper rashes. But this doesn’t mean that you need to completely eliminate them from your diet. Just watch out for symptoms, and if you feel any change in your infant’s behaviour, limit the intake to 1-2 servings/day.
Foods like cakes, pastries, whipped cream, pizzas, burgers and margarine are rich in trans-fat. When the content of trans fat increases in certain foods, the amount of DHA decreases, thereby causing a negative impact on infant brain development. As per WHO, it is recommended to have less than 1% of trans fat in your diet and avoid all the above fast foods.
Any artificial sweetener like aspartame, stevia, sucralose, saccharine, and sorbitol can be transferred to the infant. Since long term studies are not available on its effect on the baby, it is advisable to avoid their consumption by breastfeeding mothers.
It is shown that mothers who consume high sugar food and drinks during breastfeeding can cause their babies to become obese and diabetic in adult life. Such babies have high sugar and fatty food cravings during their adulthood, so it is advisable to avoid high sugar and fat foods.
Not every food will produce the same effect on all infants. If you feel that any food type is affecting your baby, make a note of it and try to avoid it completely.
Don’t fall for the food myths and start restricting your diet, unless there is a proven effect of that food on your baby. Have a well-balanced and nutritious diet, which includes mostly home cooked food. Your diet can decide the future health of your baby.
So ladies, be conscious about what you eat while breastfeeding your child, because it can make or break his/her health.