While breastfeeding there are a number of substances that are smart to avoid, or at least cut-back on.
Nicotine: many of the toxic substances in tobacco enter the bloodstream and eventually your milk. Heavy smoking decreases milk production and can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, rapid heart rate and restlessness in babies. Secondhand smoke from parents can also cause a variety of health problems in offspring including, colic, respiratory infections and an increase in the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
Alcohol: Alcohol does find its way into your breast milk in lesser amounts than you drink. While it's okay to have a few drinks a week, you should try to limit your consumption of alcohol while nursing. In large amounts, alcohol can make baby sleepy, sluggish and unresponsive. In excessive amounts it can even affect breathing.
Caffeine: One or two cups of coffee, tea or coca cola a day won't affect your baby or you. More than that could make one or both of you jittery, irritable and sleepless. caffeine has also been linked to reflux in some babies.
Herbs: Although natural, herbs aren't always safe especially when breastfeeding. Consult your doctor before taking any herbal remedy and think twice before drinking herbal teas.
Chemicals: As a general rule, avoid processed foods that contain long lists of additives, and try the following safe eating tips:
- Sweeten safely. Aspartame is probably better than saccharin (only a tiny amount of aspartame pass into breast milk), but because long-term health affects aren't know, excess is definitely a "no". However Sucralose, made from sugar is a better option out of the two.
- Go organic. Try to avoid incidental pesticides by choosing organic fruit and veg.
- Stay low-fat. Not only does a low-fat diet help you loose your pregnancy weight, but pesticides and other chemicals ingested by animals are stored in their fat.
- Fish selectively.To minimize your and your baby's exposure to mercury avoid eating shark, swordfish, marlin, ling mackerel and tile fish, and limit your consumption to 340g per week of salmon, sea bass, flounder, sole, haddock, halibut, ocean perch, pollack, cod and farm-raised trout. The FSA also advises that you don't eat more than 280g of canned tuna, or one fresh tuna steak per week.
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