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Common breastfeeding myths

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Breastfeeding is stressful enough without having to worry about what you can and can’t eat. But, as luck would have it, many foods considered to be off limits are actually safe to eat while breastfeeding.  

Some of the most common myths about foods to avoid while breastfeeding include:

MYTH: Eating “gassy foods” will give your baby painful gas.

Foods like broccoli, cabbage and beans might give you gas, but they don’t have the potential to upset your baby anymore than other foods you’re consuming. Breast milk is made from what passes into a mother’s bloodstream, not what’s in her stomach or digestive tract. And gas does not pass into the blood.

MYTH: Spicy foods can affect the taste of milk and bother a baby’s tummy.

Eating a range of foods, including spices, will help introduce your baby to new flavors, hopefully making him or her a more adventurous eater in the future. In countries such as Mexico and India, nursing mothers continue to eat a highly spiced diet with no negative effects on the baby’s tummy. La Leche League even reported a study showing babies consumed even more milk when it was garlicky (Menella and Beauchamp 1991).  So feel free to enjoy some spicy curry.

MYTH: Eating honey that may contain botulism spores that can lead to botulism poisoning in infants less than 12 months.

Part of this is true. An infant’s gut is not fully developed yet and, therefore, does not contain enough acids to counteract the toxins produced by the spores. But the good news is that any botulism spores ingested by mom will be killed in her fully developed gut. So thankfully, those spores will never make it to the bloodstream or into breast milk.

Each baby is unique and will react differently to a variety of foods. Nursing moms can continue to eat what they like unless there is an obvious reaction to a food. Some common symptoms of a food reaction include waking with obvious discomfort and inconsolable crying due to reflux, congestion, runny nose, hives and rashes. On average, it takes 4-6 hours for food to reach breast milk – so keep that in mind when looking for a food-related reaction.

Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a breastfeeding diet.  Don’t limit yourself to one or two because you’re worried about giving your baby gas – chances are that’s not what’s causing it. Eat a nutritious diet and release some new mommy stress at the gym, because contrary to popular belief, exercise will not make your breast milk sour!

Jacqueline is a Holistic Health Counselor dedicated to helping mothers and mothers-to-be stay healthy and happy. For more information or to read her blog visit www.jbholistic.com.

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