55 answers

Food Restrictions for Me While Breastfeeding?

Hi everyone,

I've been getting conflicting advice from the various doctors in my OB practice, as well as the nurses I've asked, so I wanted to see what you experienced breastfeeders out there have been told about this. What foods should I continue to avoid while breastfeeding? The one consistent piece of advice I've received is that I should continue to avoid sushi (darn!), but my OBs are mixed on whether I should keep staying away from smoked salmon, deli meats, hot dogs, soft (unpasteurized) cheeses, albacore tuna, eggs with runny yolks, and peanut butter. I was really looking forward to resuming my regular diet and not having to be so careful about food once the baby arrives, but some people have told me I should continue avoiding the above foods if I plan to breastfeed. Advice, please?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you all for your advice and encouragement! After reading all your responses, I feel much more relaxed about eating normally while breastfeeding (within the limits of those foods that don't upset the baby's tummy!) I like the idea of starting to reintroduce foods into my diet slowly, so I will do that; also, I'll plan to avoid peanut butter for a while, as we do have some nut allergies in our family. Also, many thanks to those of you who referred me to the kellymoms site - it looks like a great resource!

More Answers

I breastfed four kids and never had I been told not to eat certain foods. However, I was not a sushi fan back then.
With my first, though, I found soon that he could not tolerate chocolate and I had to give that up. If I had even the tiniest bit of chocolate he would throw up as soon as he ate. It was terrifying for me as I didn't think I had enough milk left to feed him. But we got through it ok. I don't recall any problems with my other babies.
I've heard onions are hard on a babies tummy too but mine never had a problem.
Rest assured, whatever you do have to give up, you aren't going to be giving them up forever. It's a small price to pay to be sure your little one has the best. Have you contacted the local la leche league? They are a big help and support for breast feeding moms.

1 mom found this helpful

First, I'd get advice from breastfeeding moms (like those in La Leche League) instead of OBs. OBs are surgical specialists, not breastfeeding experts. Remember that it is primarily because of doctors' "expert advice" that breastfeeding was nearly eradicated from this country a few generations ago.

If you do want to consider their advice, I'd suggest asking them *why* to stay away from these things while breastfeeding, and what evidence they have that these things are harmful.

It looks like you're being advised to stay away from foods that might contain listeria. I have no knowledge that any bacteria from foods you consume can in any way possibly transfer through your breastmilk. Also, my midwife (2 years ago) said that the listeria scare from a few years previous basically did the trick, and they are doing much better with the food supply (making sure there isn't listeria contamination in those foods), so she didn't advise me not to eat any of those things, except for the fish because of the potential for mercury content.

As far as the peanut butter goes, I think that's because of the assumption that the more peanut butter you eat, the more likely it is for your child to develop a peanut allergy. However, I've recently read that they've found the opposite is true. It would be helpful to find what actual evidence there is for dietary recommendations.

I didn't really worry too much about what I ate. Yes, when I got gas the baby got gas. No big deal. If you eat something that you know causes gas, then the next time you feed your baby, you can give him/her simethicone (gas-x) drops at the feeding to help minimize it. Babies get used to what they eat, whether it's the tastes of the food in your breastmilk or whatever. Do you think that foreign women who typically eat spicy foods (like Mexican, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, etc.) suddenly go to a bland diet when they start nursing? Unlikely. Babies adjust. They can taste the food you ate in your breastmilk, and that actually helps them prepare to enjoy the same diet.

1 mom found this helpful

I don't know who told you to stay off all that stuff. What are you going to eat if you can't eat anything?
I breast fed 3 boys and 1 girl. I ate whatever I wanted and they told me if they didn't want it again. The only thing for sure that I stayed away from was onions and cabbage. I ate fruits, veggies, meats, eggs, seafood,.... you name it. If they seemed fussy a couple of hours after I ate something, I just made a mental note of it and stayed away from it. Sometimes I would try it a couple of months later to see if it affected them and sometimes it did and sometimes it didn't.

Honey just eat whatever you want. The baby needs all the vitamins and your immunities. Your body will give the baby what it needs before it will you. Just eat what you want and let your baby tell you what it dislikes.

Now stuff like RAW seafood I didn't eat and wouldn't eat it now and you aren't supposed to eat it while you are pregnant. It can cause hepititis A or C... one of those. So just stay away from raw stuff that you wouldn't eat anyway and you will be fine.

1 mom found this helpful

You really can't ever be totally safe in the world. You can live in a bubble, but do you really want to? If you or your husband suffer from severe allergies, you might want to avoid foods that trigger allergic reactions, just in case those things would sensitize your baby, who is likely to end up allergic anyway, but at least you wouldn't feel guilty about it. I can see staying away from potential food poisoning, so limiting sushi or raw meats at least for the first few months is reasonable. If you worry about raw eggs, you can buy eggs pasturized in the shell--these are more expensive, but you only have to buy them for a year or so. The fish is probably due to mercury levels, so just eat it once a week or so and it's not that big a deal. Deli meats and hot dogs are again due to the food poisoning thing, probably safe but you could get listeria.

I nursed three kids for well over a year each, and ate whatever I pleased. I never noticed anything bothering them. When my third daughter was a month old, I got a stomach bug that was so awful it was probably food poisoning, and I got dehydrated to the point that my I didn't have any milk for about 12 hours (I gave her frozen milk but let her keep nursing so that I'd produce milk again when I kept some liquid inside.) She never got sick at all, so she was protected from either the food poisoning or the virus by her inborn immunity.

Everything in life is a gamble. You could get hit by an astroid and all your careful dieting would be wasted. For the next 20 years, when trying to decide how to raise your child, think of what could happen, and what is likely to happen, and decide if it's worth changing the quality of your life to keep yourself or the child safe. Decide what makes you too uncomfortable and what you can live with. I personally gave up flying with my kids because I read a horror story in a magazine and knew that I never wanted to be unable to save them in a plane crash. How nuts is that? I put them in the car, which is much more dangerous!

So only you can decide what your comfort level will be. None of those foods is really very likely to cause immediate damage to your baby, and probably won't cause long-term damage (I drank an entire bottle of champagne a week before finding out I was pregnant the first time, and my 18 year old son is a perfectly behaved National Merit Scholar, even though everyone would have you believe he should have fetal alcohol syndrome.)
You're the mom, and you have a natural sense of what is best for your child. Listen to your heart and you'll be fine.

1 mom found this helpful

I breast fed 1 daughter and 2 sons for a total of 5 years (and worked a full-time job outside the home) and never limited my diet before eating the food. For instance, if I ate spicy food and the baby was irratated I would avoid spicy food. If the baby was constipated I would eat dark chocolate and the baby would poop. I believe you should eat "vegetable" sushi and avoid the raw fish. I loved breast feeding and used it to the fullest advantage for each child. If they were happier when I consumed more carbs and less red meat then that's what I did. You are going to be the one in the driver's seat and will know before anyone else what effect your diet is having on your baby. Also, my husband's family was smothering me when I had our first child. They wanted me to pump breast milk so they could feed the baby. My pediatrician told my husband that the breast feeding bond was between mother and child and everyone else needed to keep out. Things went much smoother after that. It sounds like you have more advice than you need. Just relax and realize women have been birthing babies for centuries without medical doctors or nurses on hand and they've done just fine.
Trust yourself and enjoy the adventure!!! A. Burnette, Hillsborough, NC

1 mom found this helpful

I don't have any advice, but I wanted to say I am excited for you - I am also 31 and expecting my first a few months. All the new moms I see are in their early 20's so it's nice to know I'm not alone out there :-)

1 mom found this helpful

Hello C.,

It is really not a big deal to resume your regular diet while breastfeeding. Trust me you will need all the calories you can get from good food!!! As for some of the thing you mentioned...sushi is from what I understand a no no. As for the deli meat, make sure it is fresh and I always throw mine in the microwave for about 10 seconds and I continue eating even when I am pregnant (not everyday, but when I want a sandwich, Hot dogs are I did the same. As for the salmon and tuna I went with the ped. he said no albacore because it was a larger fish and had the potential of more mercury but the other and salmon was fine about oune a week (this was the advice he gave me for my son when he turned one so I am taking that advice while I am pregnant again. I figure if it is okay for him it should be okay for me on a limite dbases. The only other thing is Peanut Butter...it is an allergy thing, if you have no allergies in you family then everyone has told me it is okay to eat it. As for the one person who mentioned broc, apples, and things that cause gas... I personally never had a issue with them affecting the baby.

BUT as many said start bland and add new foods as you go seeing how the baby reacts especcially with things that could cause allergies...dairy, soy, eggs... By the end I was eating everything in the book including onions and spicy food!!!


1 mom found this helpful

I had breast fed my two children. My first born, I ate only healthy foods, no caffine, no choclate no junk foods. Plenty of vegetables, and fruits. Drank plenty of liquids, juice, milk & water. I had few problems with him, he had a little bit of colic, not bad. However I got pregnant for my second child when he was just 6 months old. I did continue to breast feed until he was about 9 months and then at that time my milk wasn't enough to make him gain the weight he should. I had enough in volume, but not richness. Now I was a little more care free with my daughter, but did notice that if I took in caffine or chocolate that she would be fussy. Between the 2 she was a little more harder to handle with the colic, couldn't take her out allot until she was over 6 months old.
Good luck!!!

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