Originally posted onMommy Nearest
Most of us are very aware that what we consume while pregnant will pass through to our baby in the womb—that's why we do our best to eat well-balanced meals, take vitamins and stay healthy. But did you know that what you consume while breastfeeding could be causing problems for your baby (and thus yourself)!? I chatted with food and wellness educator Ebeth Johnson, aka The Breastfeeding Chef, to talk about breastfeeding nutrition and its effects on mother and baby. She experienced first hand how changing your diet while breastfeeding can eliminate things such as colic, cradle cap and eczema.
Not having enough milk is a huge concern for expecting and new moms. Are there certain foods that will help maintain or build the quantity of milk produced?
The best way to increase your supply is to put your baby on your breast as much as possible, pump after feedings, and make sure you’re drinking plenty of water—you’re hydrating yourself and the baby. Beyond that, there are various lactogenic foods that will increase the milk supply of breastfeeding mothers, however they effect each woman to a different extent. Most women can see the impact of lactogenic foods within 4 to 7 days of consistent use, though some will experience changes within 48 hours. Foods that will help your supply include green leafy vegetables (especially kale, collards and mustard greens), oats, barley, carrots, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, quinoa, figs, sea vegetables, nutritional yeast, fennel, almonds, macadamia, cashew, walnut, ginger, and garlic. Just be careful—using a few lactogenic foods over and over will cause them to lose their effectiveness. Instead, eat a variety of lactogenic foods over time.
On the flip side, are there any foods that could decrease milk production that breastfeeding moms should avoid?
Actually, yes, there are many anti-lactogenic foods that can decrease a breastfeeding mother’s milk supply. Such herbs and foods include peppermint, sage, parsley, rosemary, thyme, coffee, black tea, green tea, chocolate, soft drinks and carbonated beverages, citric acid, vitamin c supplements, tomatoes, paprika, and citrus fruits. Some women may consume a small amount of anti-lactogenic foods and experience major effects while others may eat large quantities and experience no effect at all. My suggestion is that you avoid these foods for the first three to four weeks after birth.
Colic is common, but a pretty horrific thing for new parents to deal with. When you have a colicky baby who screams all evening, you’re often told there is no cause or cure and you just have to wait it out, for months. What’s your take?
My own research revealed that colic may be caused by contractions of immature intestines as they try to digest food or by gas trapped in the intestines. Since it seems the issue resides in the digestive system, this suggests that the maternal diet may have something to do with its cause and can perhaps have the ability to relieve or soothe its painful effects. If you have a baby with colic, the first thing I suggest is to remove all dairy products from your diet—dairy is the number one dietary cause of colic and may take up to 14 days to completely leave your milk and stop causing challenges for your newborn. You might also consider decreasing consumption of or eliminating other common triggers including wheat, refined sugar and flours, gluten, chocolate, peanuts, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, onions, garlic, and even too much fruit (especially peaches, plums, grapes, strawberries and pineapple). At the same time, consume caffeine-free teas that contain catnip, dill, fennel, lemon balm and cinnamon (these can help relieve the painful cramping of colic as well as ease digestion for both you and your baby) and consume foods high in magnesium. Colicky babies secrete more magnesium in their urine due to their high level of stress. This magnesium needs to be replaced because magnesium deficiency leads to muscle spasms, like those experienced in the gut of colicky babies. Above all, hold your baby more—colic is linked to emotional upset that can be soothed somewhat by skin to skin contact and nursing on demand.
How about eczema? Is that food-related as well?
It can be. Infants with eczema most often get it as a response to formula or something their mother ate that came through breast milk. The most common food triggers of eczema are dairy, wheat, corn, soy, citrus, wheat, eggs and bananas. You’ll want to consider eliminating those as well as increasing your intake of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids and zinc. Some zinc rich power foods are ground raw sesame seeds, raw pumpkin seeds, adzuki beans, raw sunflower seeds, wild rice, edamame, shitake mushrooms, tahini and kale. In the meantime, massage your baby twice-daily with one tablespoon flax seed oil, one capsule of borage (220mg) or primrose oil (500mg).
Let’s talk cradle cap. It doesn’t seem to bother the babies, but it’s pretty tough to see your little one’s scalp covered in this gunk. Do you really think it’s the result of what the baby (and mother) is ingesting?
Yes! Cradle cap is often associated with an intolerance to formula or a food in the maternal diet. One of the most common dietary causes of cradle cap is milk and dairy products, however eggs, wheat, nuts, peanuts, shellfish, soy and corn are also usual suspects. My suggestion is to remove all dairy and eggs from your diet, increase your consumption of magnesium, zinc, biotin and essential fatty acids (hemp seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, and cod liver oil), and treat the cradle cap topically (massage with oil, leave on overnight, and rinse and gently rub with a warm wet washcloth in the morning). If cradle cap persists, try eliminating another possible dietary cause listed above.
What foods should be increased or avoided for reflux?
Add foods that are soothing to the digestive tract, including ginger, aloe vera, melon, fennel, asparagus, green beans, leafy greens, root vegetables, brown rice, pseudo grains, and fresh papaya with the seeds. Make sure you’re getting enough calcium, magnesium, potassium and B12. Avoid trigger foods like chocolate, mint, citrus, raw onion, caffeine, carbonated beverages, alcohol, dairy, and fried and grilled foods.
Have you treated any of your baby’s ailments through an elimination diet? If so, let us know how it went below.
I'm a NYC metro area mom blogger living in NJ with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1), focusing on fun and honest product and travel reviews, saving moms time finding the best for their families! Find what you need in the menu bar or search section above!