Boobie Traps Part 3
Listen. I love food. Like, so much. That’s why this next myth really grinds my gears
Myth 3: You need to cut out [insert trendy food here] or your baby is going to suffer terrible consequences.
I just… no.
This one is really trendy now, but has roots going way back. When older were breastfeeding, the big no-no foods were vegetables - broccoli, peppers, leafy greens. The belief was that if you ate these foods, your baby would get gassy. This myth started because it was a nice, simple thing to blame for a cranky baby (isn’t it so fun to blame everything on something mom is or isn’t doing?), and they do like to tell us all about the things they couldn't eat when they were feeding us!
The reality is that milk is made from your bloodstream, not the contents of your stomach.
Turns out, babies just get gassy! As their digestive systems mature and figure out how to do their jobs, gas and some discomfort can be natural side effects. It’s natural to want to connect the dots and figure out why this is happening, but most often, it’s just happening because it’s a normal growing pain for baby!
Our current trends with food avoidance while breastfeeding include avoiding things like dairy and soy. This one actually has a little more validity behind it, but it’s still not necessary for most folks.
Dairy and soy allergies are real, actual things, and they’re more commonly attributed as childhood allergies. If your baby has a reaction to these items, it is absolutely a valid recommendation to cut them from your diet. But this is recommended by family or friends or mom groups way more often than it needs to be - this shouldn’t be the first recommendation for a baby who is fussy.
For these bigger concerns, you’re going to see some pretty noticeable issues with baby. They can include things like:
Skin reactions, like an itchy, painful, or flaky rash
Swelling of the lips, face, or around the eyes
Vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, or intense fussiness/”colic”
Congestion or runny nose
Bloody or mucousy stools, angry diaper rash that doesn’t go away
So why does this happen, if our milk isn’t produced from the contents of our stomachs?
The cause of these allergies is a reaction to the proteins in these foods - which transfer into the bloodstream and then into your milk. It’s important to note again that these are the proteins - not the sugars. It is extremely unlikely that your baby has a lactose intolerance. Breast milk has an abundance of lactose, so a lactose intolerance in infants is a pretty dangerous emergency. This is an important distinction because if your baby has a milk protein allergy, you need to remove all milk proteins from your diet. Drinking lactose-free milk won’t solve this problem.
If you’re concerned about your baby reacting to something you eat, your first step should be to consult your pediatrician. It’s worth noting that a lot of pediatricians don’t have a ton of breastfeeding knowledge, so you may need to seek a second opinion. A really great resource for learning about breastfeeding allergies is Free to Feed. You can view research on their site and even book a consultation with an allergy expert.
Of course, there are some things that we should be limiting while we’re breastfeeding, because science.
Stick to no more than two servings of fish per week, and limit fish like swordfish, marlin, or shark to one serving a week. Why? We know that fish can contain high levels of mercury, and we know that mercury can negatively affect brain and nervous system development.
Limit caffeine to 300 mg per day. Caffeine is a stimulant and passes into your milk, which can make your baby restless. But don’t worry. You don’t need to swear off coffee for your entire breastfeeding journey!
Likewise, limit alcohol while you’re breastfeeding to 1-3 drinks a week, and if you can, try to leave 3-4 hours between drinking alcohol and breastfeeding your baby. Alcohol does pass through breast milk, but it is in pretty small amounts.You may want to hand express for comfort if you’re feeling engorged while you’re drinking, but alcohol does not accumulate in breast milk, so you don’t have to “pump and dump” (I swear, I have an intense urge to punch anyone who tries telling someone they need to do this).
I hope this was helpful in giving you the confidence to continue enjoying your favorite foods (probably with one hand while you are nursing).
Feed on, neighbors!