Whether you're a new mom or a seasoned parenting pro,
often comes with its fair share of questions. Here are answers to
some common inquiries that mothers - new and veteran - may
What should I eat?
Just as when you were pregnant, it's important to eat well
while you're breastfeeding, with plenty of wholesome fruits,
vegetables, whole grains, protein, and calcium-rich foods. Follow
the recommendations charted in the
Food Guide Pyramid
and you'll be well on your way to giving both you and your baby
a nutritious diet.
You'll also need to drink and eat
so that your body can make milk. But before you start adding on
more calories, talk to your doctor about how many more
should consume every day based on your weight, height, age, and
activity level. Also ask your doctor if you should still take your
prenatal vitamins - many doctors have women continue them during
It's a good idea to carry a water bottle around wherever you
go and drink up, refilling the bottle throughout the day, to make
sure you consume adequate liquids.
Does my breastfed baby have an allergy?
A breastfed baby may have an
or sensitivity reaction after the mother consumes certain foods or
drinks (such as common food allergens like cow's milk, eggs,
nuts and peanuts, etc.). Some signs of such a reaction to food
- consistent spitting up or vomiting
- apparent belly pain (lots of gas and/or pulling up the knees
- bloody, loose, frequent, and/or mucousy stools (poop)
- rash and swelling
- wheezing or difficulty breathing
If your child is having any trouble breathing or swelling of the
face, call 911 immediately. If you think your baby has had an
allergic or sensitivity reaction to food, call your doctor and
avoid eating or drinking anything your little one can't seem to
tolerate. It may also be a good idea to keep a journal of exactly
what you eat and drink every day, along with any reactions your
baby may have, which could help both you and your doctor pinpoint
what the problem food, or foods, may be.
Should I avoid certain foods?
Every baby is different. Whereas some mothers may discover that
their little ones get gassy or fussy after they eat beans,
cauliflower, or broccoli, others may be able to tolerate those
foods just fine. And some women can attest that their babies
don't seem to like the taste of their breast milk after their
mothers eat spicy foods. Again, other babies may not mind if
Mom's just downed a Mexican meal chockfull of red-hot chili
Just like during pregnancy, nursing moms should avoid or limit
their intake of fish high in mercury, since high mercury levels can
damage the developing nervous system. Studies continue to be done
to see if nursing moms should limit their intake of peanuts and
peanut butter in order to avoid peanut allergies in their
Also, if you're noticing a pattern (of fussiness, gassiness,
colicky behavior, etc.), try to keep track of exactly what you eat
and how your baby reacts to it each time, then talk to your doctor.
He or she may suggest eliminating the possibly offending food (such
as dairy products - a common allergen) from your diet for a few
days to see if there's any change.
Is alcohol still a "no-no"?
When a nursing mom drinks alcohol, a small amount of it gets
into her breast milk.
The amount of alcohol in breast milk depends on the amount of
alcohol in the blood. It takes about 2 to 3 hours after consuming
one drink for the alcohol to be metabolized and no longer be a
concern for nursing.
If you do plan to drink more than a few (preferably after
breastfeeding's been established for about a month), you can
"pump and dump" - pump your milk and then throw it away.
give your baby breast milk, from your breast
a bottle, for at least 2 to 3 hours for every drink of alcohol you
Can I have caffeine?
As with pregnancy, it's best to limit the amount of caffeine
you consume while breastfeeding. One or two cups of coffee a day
are fine, but remember that the more caffeine you drink (tea, soda,
coffee), the more it may affect your baby's mood and/or sleep,
and the more it can dehydrate you.
Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: May 2008
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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