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To eat or not to eat

January 9, 2012

Most new moms are so relived they’re not pregnant anymore and they can go back to eating whatever they want. Well, is that true? Certainly all moms have heard about the pump and dump – you can’t drink and nurse, so if you drink you dump your milk. Most moms also avoid caffeine for fear it will get to their babies through their milk and keep them up.  Or that eating certain things, like peanuts, can produce allergies in your little one.

Interestingly enough, most of these things are not necessarily true. Depending on a person’s metabolism, what you eat can get into your milk (through your blood stream) in one hour, four or even twenty-four hours. It just depends on the person. When it comes to drinking, most recommend waiting about 2 hours to nurse, taking into account the age of your baby, b/c littler ones have less mature livers and are less able to process even small amounts of alcohol. But there is no need to dump the milk, it doesn’t accumulate. and if it’s still in your bloodstream, it’s still in your milk. So once you feel sober, you’re good to go! That said, that one glass of wine is fine!

According to the AAP, caffeine is fine too. Some babies may be more sensitive than others, and again, it depends on the age, but in moderation a cup of your normal coffee is fine, and probably necessary for your sanity!

Your baby is born with whatever food allergies they may have, that may get worse or better as they get older. Few babies have violent reactions to what mama eats, although some may get upset after you’ve consumed dairy, shellfish, or soy. So yes, in that case you would begin cutting one thing at a time out of your diet until you identify the offender. But you should always start out eating whatever you want. The newest consensus on food allergies seems to be that all kids should be fed everything and monitored to see if they react or not. It seems removing certain foods from their diet unnecessarily can do more harm than good.

When it comes to herbs and medications, it’s a different story. For those with Iphones, pads, etc the NIH has developed a great app – LactMed that allows you to type in any drug or drug class and it will tell you if it is safe during breastfeeding or provide safe alternatives. Super handy when you have an awful cold and want to know if dayquil is safe or not. Herbs are another area mom must be very careful – just as in pregnancy. Mostly because herbs have not been studied extensively and are not regulated or approved by the FDA for any uses. Not that some are not helpful – fenugreek is one of the most helpful things to take if you are having supply issues. Just be careful, do your research, and when possible consult a homoeopathist or your midwife.

The best approach to take is to maintain that healthy diet you were following while pregnant. Try to avoid any unnecessary medications, and drink in moderation. But eat everything – tastes can come through in your milk, so you can start teaching that little foodie right away!


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