What Foods Should I Avoid While Breastfeeding?

What Foods Should I Avoid While Breastfeeding?

Congratulations on your new baby. Now, are you ready to start feeding your baby? Do you know the breastfeeding dos and don’ts? Learning the basics of breastfeeding is the first step in providing the best care for your bundle joy.

The overwhelming joy that comes with a new baby also has a tinge of fear. This is because most mothers have no idea about the best way to care for their baby.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend exclusive breastfeeding for about six months.

Research shows that a commendable 83.2 percent of mothers start out breastfeeding. Unfortunately, many mothers stop before the recommended six months for several reasons, including low milk supply and concerns over the baby’s nutrition.

As a lactating mother, it’s important to know the right foods to eat and those to avoid. Eating the right foods when nursing not only helps with milk production, but also protects your baby.

Have you been wondering which foods to avoid while breastfeeding? This guide demystifies the taboo foods for nursing mothers.

What You Need To Know About Breastfeeding

Many mothers wean their babies early. This can lead to debilitating developmental problems. Lack of information is the main reason for this risky trend.

Most mothers also don’t know the best lactogenic foods to increase milk supply.

Doctors recommend feeding your baby on breast milk for the following reasons:

  1. Breast milk has everything your baby needs. The first yellow milk produced (Colostrum) is low in sugar, high in protein, and comes packed with beneficial nutrients.
  2. Breast milk makes babies smart by aiding in early brain development
  3. Mothers who breastfeed lose weight faster
  4. Breast milk reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer
  5. There’s less risk of developing postpartum depression
  6. Breast milk increases the production of the hormone oxytocin. This helps in the involution of the uterus, returning it to its pre-pregnancy size.
  7. Breast milk improves the baby’s ability to fight off illnesses and diseases (from infant death syndrome (SIDS), colds, and infections to respiratory tract infections). The antibodies in breast milk also help the baby fight off viruses and bacteria.
  8. Breast milk promotes healthy weight gain and prevents obesity in infants.

All these benefits are only possible with continued breast milk production. The longer you breastfeed, the greater the positive effects this has on you and your child.

Foods to Avoid When Breastfeeding

The food you eat determines whether you will have enough milk supply for the entire recommended period. When learning how to produce more breast milk, it’s also important to learn the foods to avoid.

A lot of information available is on the food lactating mothers should eat. However, some popular foods on the menu will have a big impact on your body’s ability to produce milk.

Other foods are also harmful to your baby.

Learning what to eat and what to avoid forms the foundation of breastfeeding dos and breastfeeding don’ts.

Is Your Diet Affecting Your Child?

The food in your breastfeeding diet ends up in the breast milk. Your baby’s body will react, and you should know these symptoms.

Some of the warning signs of wrong breastfeeding foods in your diet include:

  • Eczema (This is a red, painful, itchy rash on the body)
  • Increased fussiness
  • Excessive spit up or vomiting
  • Nasal congestion, runny nose, wheezing or coughing
  • Excessive gas and bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Baby colic
  • Excessive crying
  • Poor sleeping

The following list contains some of the foods not to eat while breastfeeding:


There’s no denying that fish is one of the most nutritional foods available. Doctors recommend fish for all ages, from children to adults.

Fish is the best source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for a lactating mother. However, some fish species, including swordfish and king mackerel, shark, and tilefish, contain harmful mercury content.

Mercury can cause devastating damage to your baby’s nervous system. If you’re to eat fish, go for salmon, tilapia, canned light tuna, shrimp, pollock, catfish and trout. These have low traces of mercury.


After a tough nine months without a drink, it is understandable you want a sip now and then. Alcohol passes from your body through breast milk to the baby’s system.

If you choose to drink, make sure your timing is right. Alcohol takes two to three hours to metabolize. You’ve to time your next nursing session correctly before drinking.

Pumping breast milk and dumping it doesn’t solve anything. The alcohol levels in your blood remain high. This means you’ll end up feeding your baby on booze-laced milk.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says you can breastfeed after taking a drink (5 ounces of wine, one shot of alcohol or 12 ounces of beer).

If you can feel the effects of alcohol in your body, it’s not safe to breastfeed.


Many nursing mothers love coffee and other caffeinated drinks. Such drinks help them stay alert, but it is advisable to take them in moderation.

Coffee, tea, and caffeinated sodas pass through to your baby’s bloodstream. It is thus advisable to take these drinks in moderation when nursing.

The caffeine can make your newborn jittery, which presents a big problem on your hands. If you’re to take caffeinated drinks, it is advisable to do this after nursing.

The body will have enough time to metabolize the compound and prevent any effects on the baby.


Peppermint, parsley, and sage are herbs with many health benefits. However, in high doses, these affect a nursing mother’s body.

These are anti-galactagogues, and when taken in high doses, they reduce milk production. When using any of these herbs, you should carefully monitor your milk supply.

Any drop in the supply of breast milk means you should reduce intake or stop using the herb altogether.

Cow's Milk

A lot of research into infant’s allergies points to cow’s milk as a causative agent. Research shows 2-6% of children are allergic to cow’s milk protein.

This means your baby will react to your breast milk if it contains traces of cow milk protein.

Affected babies will develop rashes, vomiting or baby colic, eczema, diarrhea, or bloody stools. All of these are serious health effects. You should thus exclude cow milk from your diet when they occur.

This makes cow’s milk one of the main foods to avoid while breastfeeding.

For the mother’s health, it’s advisable to supplement with lactogenic products high in calcium when nursing.

Spicy Food

If you love spicy food, you should continue taking it as long as your baby doesn’t show any adverse reaction.

If you regularly had spicy food during pregnancy, your baby will have no problem nursing. Their body is already familiar with the spices.

If your baby suffers colic, diarrhea, or becomes gassy, you should stop eating spicy food.


If you love chocolate, it’s time to cut down on your intake. Chocolate contains high levels of caffeine, which end up in breast milk.

Worse still, chocolate has a laxative effect on babies. This may affect the sleeping pattern of your baby, which also interferes with your schedule.

If you notice your child’s sleeping pattern is irregular, it’s time to cut down on chocolate intake.

Gas Causing Foods

Gassy foods in your diet include beans, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. If you experience gas after taking these foods, your child will also have a similar or worse problem.

Bloating and gas in babies make them miserable. For this reason, you should exclude gassy foods from your diet or minimize their intake.

Allergy-Causing Foods

Food allergies and sensitivities develop early. It’s thus important to avoid common allergy-causing foods in your diet or reduce them. These foods include:

  • Dairy products
  • Cherries
  • Prunes
  • Peanuts and tree nuts
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberries
  • Citrus fruits and juices
  • Kiwi

Final Thoughts

Breastfeeding is the best way to guarantee your baby receives all the nutrients they need. To ensure you’ve enough milk, you need to observe what you eat. This also ensures the baby only gets the best nutrients from your breast milk.

By learning the foods to avoid or reduce in your diet, you ensure your baby grows healthy. You will not have to deal with allergies and other adverse reactions to breast milk. 

Avoiding these foods ensures a pleasant nursing experience. However, avoiding some foods such as cow’s milk will leave you deficient of essential nutrients. This necessitates supplementation to get the nutrients needed in your body.

Our lactation milk bars come in handy. These lactogenic bars contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which help in the production of high-quality milk.

Our milk bars come in different tasty flavors to suit every taste bud. They are safe and contain natural lactogenic ingredients for improved energy levels and breast milk production.

Some of these ingredients include rolled oats, brewer’s yeast, black sesame seeds, almonds walnuts, and flax seeds.

Find out here what nursing mothers have to say about our healthy breastfeeding snacks.

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