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Dietitian Shares: Breastfeeding? Think Twice Before Having These Foods

 

Dietitian Shares: Breastfeeding? Think Twice Before Having These Foods

Breastfeeding is a journey and no one would say it would be easy, but many would promise you that it is rewarding. Although there isn’t much clinical evidence to how your diet would affect breast milk supply, mothers are encouraged to maintain a healthy and balanced diet as they breastfeed. Incorporating your balanced diet with some traditional foods that claim to increase breast milk supply may be helpful for some mothers. Nowadays various breastfeeding meal plan to increase milk supply are available in the market to try.

Mothers are also encouraged to gradually increase physical activity as they recover from giving birth and is permissible by the doctor. All in the name to keep fit and live a healthy lifestyle. 

Good news is that there aren’t any foods that are off limits during your breastfeeding journey! However, it’s always good to keep in mind a few foods that we should intentionally keep to a minimum. Here are some food for thought ( pun intended, get it? )

Alcohol drinks or Alcohol containing food

Avoiding alcoholic drinks or food is indeed the safest as we know that alcohol intake does leak into the breast milk. Significant amount of exposure to alcohol can affect brain development, growth and sleep patterns in babies. The Centers of Control and Disease Prevention, CDC generally advise mothers who do want to have a drink, to limit one standard drink a day by mothers who breastfeed is not known to be harmful if they only breastfeed 4 hours after consumption. 

Caffeine intake

Caffeine intake from coffee is a main concern from many mothers. General recommendations would say any intake below 200mg of caffeine per day is safe. That is translated to 1 to 2 cups of coffee per day. If you do like to have chocolate, or tea (especially bubble tea) occasionally or daily, then maybe it would be wise to tone down to 1 cup of coffee a day so that you can enjoy other foods that may contain caffeine too. Too much may cause your baby to be restless, difficult sleeping and irritable. 

Non-nutritive sweetener

Non- nutritive sweeteners have been a hot topic. Generally non-nutritive sweeteners are considered safe for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers to take. However, recent studies have shown that some nutritive sweeteners like saccharin and acesulfame potassium pass through the placenta and the breast milk. Emerging research suggests that non-nutritive sweeteners may have the potential to predispose your baby to liking sweet foods.Thus, recent observational studies are questioning the long term health effects due to exposure at such an early age. Although there isn’t any conclusive causative evidence in human studies,  it may be a good idea to minimize intake where possible. If you are using it to control your blood sugar levels or keep calories low, work towards gradually reducing your intake of non-nutritive sweeteners or regular added sugars all together. Do not be disheartened if you still want to have your non-nutritive sweetened beverages from time to time. What is more important is making informed decisions and taking sustainable actionable steps towards eating healthier day by day. Our taste buds can change over time as we age and adjust our dietary habits. So, do not give up! 

Raw Sushi or Sashimi

Mummies definitely can enjoy some raw sushi or sashimi when breastfeeding since the risk is much lower. Abstaining from it the past 9 months must have been hell of a challenge for mummies who love sushi and sashimi. The cravings are real for sure! Having additional serving of fish for the week can be beneficial because fish are rich sources of Omega 3-DHA which promotes healthy brain development in babies. However, when you do enjoy them, do take note of the next few points. First, be certain that the restaurant has grade A food hygiene practices. Secondly, make sure you are aware of the type of fish and the origin. It is better to avoid fishes that are of higher mercury content such as king mackerel, big eye tuna,bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna and swordfish to name a few. Mercury can leak into the breast milk and has harmful effects to the baby’s brain. Whenever possible, choose seared or cooked fish on your sushi. It’s always good to stay safe even for you as you may fall sick. 

Conclusion

Dietitian Shares: Breastfeeding? Think Twice Before Having These Foods

All in all, despite not being pregnant anymore, your little one is still very nutritionally dependent on you. Your dietary habits and lifestyle practices still carry an impact on your little one. If all is overwhelming, especially since you already have to mindfully stick to a healthy and balanced diet most of the time, definitely try looking out for a suitable breastfeeding meal plan. This would definitely take away the pain of planning what to eat throughout the week but does not necessarily keep you from all the other foods that you may want to eat or crave for occasionally during the weekends. Many of the breastfeeding food packages are very flexible in delivery arrangements and only need you to call in to request change of delivery days or location at least a day before. Arrangements may differ from one service provider to the other, so do call in and check them out!

  • Eunice Tan, In-house Dietitian

    Eunice Tan graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Dietetics with Nutrition from International Medical University. She is a certified Prenatal Dietitian, Accredited by Singapore Nutrition and Dietetics Association and also the in-house dietitian for Tian Wei Signature and ReLacto. With her expertise and interest in nutrition for women and diet planning, Eunice helps to support mothers get the key nutrients they need for recovery and lactation.