What to Avoid While Breastfeeding

What to Avoid While BreastfeedingYou’ve just come out of this sacred 40 week period where you diligently (and perhaps neurotically) protected your unborn baby from anything potentially harmful in the “outside world.” The first thing you may want to do after giving birth is grab a big bottle of wine, plate of sushi and box of chocolate and have a mega “I’m not pregnant anymore” feast. Before you do, remember that you are still the one and only food source for your bundle of joy and some of that indulgent food you may be craving – as well as medications, intoxicants, and chemicals that may be in your personal care and beauty products – will seep into your breast milk to some degree.  Check out what to avoid while breastfeeding to keep your breast milk as pure as possible for the health of your baby.

Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding

There are many myths surrounding foods to avoid while breastfeeding. Some are based on cultural experiences while others are anecdotal or old wives tales. There are actually very few foods to avoid while breastfeeding if any, however the answer for you will be based on you and your baby’s individual needs.

In general, eating a clean, diverse and well-rounded diet is the best way to ensure your baby gets the benefits of a wholesome diet through your breast milk. Lots of fruits, vegetables, lean sources of protein, healthy fats and whole grains will provide you and your baby with a variety of nutrients to thrive. Plus, eating many different types of foods will change the flavor of your breast milk and offer your baby an introduction in the wonderful world of food, which may serve her well as she begins to eat solid foods in the future. Don’t forget, eating healthy is just as important for you as your baby. Breastfeeding and raising an infant takes a lot of energy so eating well will help give you the strength you need for the job.

Deli meat, sushi and soft cheese are back on the menu. And, contrary to what many believe, you can even have caffeine and alcohol in moderation. That means no more than 3 servings of caffeine a day and one or two drinks a day. Alcohol and caffeine will pass into your bloodstream, which means it will enter your breast milk to a very small extent. You’ll also want to steer clear of high mercury fish that could affect your baby’s brain development. Other foods like extreme amounts of sage, peppermint and similar herbs can decrease your milk supply so it’s important to be conscious of what you eat from a milk supply perspective as well.

Many moms are surprised to learn that babies with food allergies will react to their mother’s milk if she’s eaten an allergen. The most common infant and child food allergy is cow’s milk followed by eggs, nuts and shellfish. Keep an eye out for signs of any food allergies, especially after you’ve eaten any of these potentially risky foods. If your baby does have a food allergy you may need to eliminate those foods from your diet.

Medications to Avoid While Breastfeeding

Just like food, medications can creep into your breast milk. Some medications are deemed safe for babies while others should be avoided completely while breastfeeding. Often an alternative medication can be prescribed that is safe for your baby if your original medication is not. Make sure your doctor is aware that you are breastfeeding when prescribing medication and call your pediatrician to double check the safety of medications for your baby. Keep in mind, some drugs including over-the-counter medications that are not harmful to babies may cause a dip in your milk supply.

Intoxicants and Exposure to Avoid While Breastfeeding

Illicit drug use and smoking of any kind are not healthy for you or your baby while breastfeeding. Certain types of radiation exposure can affect your breast milk as well including working in a radioactive environment or working around radiation equipment.

Chemicals to Avoid While Breastfeeding

What you put on your body is absorbed into your bloodstream through your skin. Therefore, the ingredients in your personal care and beauty products may wind up in your breast milk in small amounts. There are hundreds of potentially harmful ingredients in personal care and beauty products and you may not be able to avoid all of them. However, do try to be as natural as possible with your product selection during this important time for the health of your baby. Be especially sensitive to your breasts by avoiding any soap or lotion on them since your baby will directly ingest it while nursing.

Sources: Babble, The Bump, La Leche League, American Pregnancy, KellyMom and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Loving Moments believes moms should have the knowledge, resources and power to make the healthiest choices for their babies, starting with breastfeeding. In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month in August, we are sharing Breastfeeding Basics, our educational blog series that we hope will empower you with information, encouragement and inspiration to meet your breastfeeding goals.