Does What I Eat Affect Breast Milk?
It’s amazing to wonder that so many mothers around the world from all different backgrounds, demographics, cultures and beliefs. All have one thing in common, their breastmilk. Studies show that regardless of where your from in the world or what you eat your breast milk doesn’t change.
In fact you can eat pretty much whatever you like and your breastmilk will still be good for your baby! Having said that, it doesn’t mean you should eat unhealthy.
Diet can affect your mood, health and wellbeing. An article written in the mental health foundation suggests there research to suggest that poor diet can affect your mental health, so remember to look after yourself so you can look after your baby.
Can I Have Caffeine When Breastfeeding?
Let’s get straight to the point here, if you notice your baby is affected then it’s probably best to avoid caffeine when breastfeeding. A study was done to show the jitteress in 6 weeks old from mothers who drank 4-5 cups of coffee a day with 2-3 cans of cola.
Also another study was done showing that mothers who drank coffee noticed their babies wake up at night – that’s probably where it hits home for a lot you. It’s probably best to avoid caffeine to make sure your baby gets a good night’s sleep or atleast has a better chance of it!
Another study done by the University of Warwick found that coffee consumption was associated with increased infant colic and mild to moderate cases of atopic dermatitis.
The point here is that although that seems like a lot of drink, the fact that it finds its way into the infant and in turn can have an effect is concerning.
So you can see why a lot of people choose to avoid caffeine and when you look at all the stats and figures it sort of makes you worry about having any caffeine at all but its like most things in life, moderation. It’s probably only worth giving up depending on the effect it has on your baby. Bare in mind that a small change can have a big difference, especially in the sleep department, so if you find your a big coffee or a can of pop drinker, and your baby is jittery – possibly keep an eye on the intake of caffeine.
But What About Decaf? – Well another study showed that a physician who drank about 2 litres of decaffeinated coffee who had premature twins, both of which seemed irritable when she drank decaf. The study went on to say that when the physician stopped drinking decaf the twins showed less sign of irritability.
Ok, so the reason I mention this study is to highlight that not only caffeine has an effect but also decaf reportedly.
It’s probably worth noting this study is not the best quality because it only includes the results of one person albeit a physician, the point is that a more in depth study should be conducted with more people included, so that we can have a better understanding.
But it still has me wondering whether it’s worth the risk? – again it’s probably best to wait till at least after the breastfeeding stages, if you notice your baby is reacting badly to it.
Admittedly it’s not straightforward and finding answers about what foods you should or shouldn’t eat is a minefield on a good day. Throw in breastfeeding and then even more opinions pop up and confuse the lifestyle soup that is motherhood and your left pulling your hair out wondering what exactly am I supposed to eat and avoid…
In fact, one study showed that 56 out of 145 women who breastfed chose to omit some sort of food out of their diet. Interestingly though, literature doesn’t tell us to categorically stop a particular food altogether. However there may be some foods to watch out for in excess. Such as caffeine, but truth be told the only real reason you should consider stopping a food is if the child reacts badly to it.
The same study found that the most common food avoided in breastfeeding women were:
- Spicy foods
- Raw foods
- Cold foods
Amazingly 84.1% of mothers who avoided the food didn’t actually know the reason why they avoided the foods, in fact the reasons were at best described as ‘vague’.
Do Mothers Need More Calories While Breastfeeding
Yes they do. In fact you should be looking have about an extra 500kcal a day. Obviously that depends on lots of variables such as; age, activity level, BMI or whether she is exclusively breastfeeding or not because supplementary feeding with formula would require you eat less calories.
In summary, the more you get to know your baby, the better you’ll feel about what foods to eat and avoid. I don’t know of any hard facts about particular foods that you definitely must avoid or include but im sure there are lots of guides out there. The important thing to remember is that they are guides and not rules, so don’t make life hard on yourself and just have a healthy clean balance with the food you eat.