When you drink coffee (or soda or tea), some of the caffeine ends up in your breast milk. Because babies aren’t able to excrete caffeine as quickly or efficiently as adults, too much in their systems may lead to irritation, crankiness, and sleeplessness. The solution? Cut back on coffee. As tired as you are, a fussy baby who won’t sleep just makes matters worse. At minimum, try putting off your cup of coffee until just after a nursing session.
- Citrus Fruits
Certain compounds found in citrus fruits and juices may irritate a still-immature GI tract, leading to fussiness, spitting up, and even diaper rash in some babies. If cutting down on citrus seems like a good idea for Baby’s sake, compensate by adding other vitamin C-rich foods to the menu, including papaya and mango.
- Spicy Foods
Some nursing mums can add extra jalapenos to everything and still have completely content babies. But you might find that just a dash of pepper is enough to make your baby irritated and fussy for hours. How to spice it up food without causing Baby discomfort? Look for flavours that add zest without the heat. Add a splash of lime juice on your chicken, rather than hot sauce. If you need to skip the hot peppers in your stir-fry, toss in some extra ginger for heat—ginger is one spice that may actually soothe your little one’s tummy.
Experts have found that the stronger the family history is for a particular food allergy, the greater the risk and the earlier the infant is likely to show symptoms. In other words, if your child’s father has a shellfish allergy, but you have no problem with shrimp and lobster, you still might want to give shellfish a pass while breastfeeding.
Egg allergies (usually in the form of sensitivity to egg whites) are common in young children. But because eggs lurk in all sorts of foods, from bread and snack foods to ice cream, it may be a difficult allergy to pinpoint. Another tactic for breastfeeding mums who suspect their child has a food allergy is to eliminate all of the most allergenic foods at once (dairy, soy, egg whites, wheat, peanuts and tree nuts, and shellfish). After two weeks, each allergenic food is added back one by one, allowing up to four days in between to evaluate the child for rashes and other symptoms.
Proceed with caution if chocolate is your sweet indulgence of choice. Just like coffee and soda, chocolate contains caffeine. (Though not as much—a one-ounce serving of dark chocolate contains between five and 35 mg of caffeine; a cup of coffee generally contains up to 135 mg of caffeine). If you suspect chocolate is the culprit behind your baby’s fussiness, eliminate it from your diet for a few days. If you see a change in your baby’s behavior, for the better — continue to abstain or cut back.
It might not cause fussiness or even gas, but because mercury found in fish can find its way into breast milk, the same rules for fish consumption during pregnancy still apply when you are breastfeeding. According to the FDA, nursing women should eat up to 12 ounces (two average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury. Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish. Fish to avoid while you are breastfeeding include shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish.
It’s not the occasional glass of wine with dinner that you need to worry about. One drink or less per day likely poses little risk for babies, experts agree. But if your drinking habits fall into the moderate or heavy category, you are treading into murky waters. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, possible side effects of breastfeeding and habitual consumption of large amounts of alcohol include drowsiness, deep sleep, weakness, and abnormal weight gain in the infant, and the possibility of decreased milk-ejection reflex in the mother. Do you drink to relax? Try winding down with such new mum stress-reducers as a relaxing bath, a soothing cup of chamomile tea, or a massage.