Breastfeeding is an important period during motherhood. There are many questions surrounding this topic and it is sometimes difficult to make sense of it. Are there any prohibited foods during breastfeeding? Can I eat fish, drink coffee? Do certain foods slow down my milk production? Le goût de mon lait change-t-il en fonction de mon alimentation ? In this article we try to answer your questions and give you an overview of some good feeding practices during your breastfeeding. All without guilt of course!
First of all, unlike pregnancy, breastfeeding has fewer diet rules. It’s very simple: eat a balanced diet of everything, without excess, like the rest of the family. If you were on a special diet during pregnancy, you should be able to return to your normal eating habits quickly (unless medically advised otherwise). Adopt a simple diet consisting of :
- Fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts, sources of vitamin B9 and fibre,
- Dairy products, sources of iodine, protein, calcium, and vitamin B2,
- Fish (pollock, cod, whiting, etc.) and beef, veal, pork, lamb, etc.
- Dark chocolate (over 70% cocoa) rich in fibre, iron and copper,
- Whole grain products, rich in fibre,
- Low-processed foods with nutrient-dense ingredients, such as La Fabrique des Mamans bars.
Foods to be eaten in moderation
There are some foods that should be eaten in moderation while breastfeeding, as they can alter the taste of the milk and make it unpleasant for the baby.
These foods include cabbage, broccoli, asparagus, artichokes, garlic, onions and some strong spices.
Despite these drawbacks, the Leche League says that you should not ban foods from your diet for their taste. This will allow your baby to discover the diversity of foods.
Without taking into account their taste, some foods should be limited because of their composition. Indeed, some fish are likely to carry contaminants that could end up in breast milk. These are freshwater fish (eel, bream, carp, etc.) and wild predatory fish (sea bass, halibut, bream, tuna, etc.). It is also advisable to avoid foods containing phytoestrogens, especially soy products: maximum 1 time per day.
Foods not recommended during breastfeeding
Some foods are not recommended during breastfeeding as they can have an impact on the infant. These include the most contaminated fish: swordfish, siki, salmon and lamprey. For more information, visit the website of the French Medicines Agency (ANSES) which lists fish exposed to methylmercury.
For more information, visit the website of the French Medicines Agency (ANSES) which lists fish exposed to methylmercury.
- Raw or lightly cooked foodstuffs of animal origin (meat, milk, raw milk cheeses, eggs, seafood, fish including smoked fish)
- Pork liver sausages and some cooked sausages (rillettes, pâté)
As in a conventional diet, it is not advisable to eat too much of the following Raw or undercooked foods of animal origin (meat, milk, raw milk cheeses, eggs, seafood, fish including smoked fish).
- Foods high in refined sugars
- Fatty fast food
- Processed products that are sources of saturated fatty acids, ready meals…
Drinks to avoid when breastfeeding
Contrary to popular belief, a breastfeeding mother does not need to drink milk or eat cheese to produce breast milk. This is because it is derived from the mother’s blood plasma. It is therefore the quality of the mother’s diet and sufficient hydration that will ensure the quality and quantity of milk production for the child.
However, some drinks should be avoided when breastfeeding.
Alcohol passes into breast milk at a rate similar to that in the mother’s blood and newborns metabolise alcohol at about half the rate of adults. It is therefore preferable to limit its consumption during the breastfeeding period, otherwise it may disrupt the baby’s sleep rhythm, increase the risk of hypoglycaemia and harm its development. In addition, alcohol in large quantities can also inhibit the ejection reflex in some women.
But don’t worry! One glass of alcohol is allowed in exceptional cases.
Alcool Info Service recommends “drinking moderately (one to two glasses maximum), exceptionally (once or twice a week) and preferably after a feed. So, ideally, you should wait between 2 and 3 hours after moderate alcohol consumption before giving the breast again.
In addition, the caffeine contained in coffee, tea, hot chocolate, etc. also passes quickly into breast milk.
Effects on the baby include difficulty in falling asleep, gastric reflux, colic or abnormal agitation.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) stresses that “the usual consumption of caffeine at doses of 200 mg per day by breastfeeding women does not pose a safety concern for the breastfed infant”. Do not drink more than 2 to 3 cups per day.
Replace drinks containing caffeine with herbal teas, raspberry, lime, mint, etc.
Diets during breastfeeding
Diets are not recommended during breastfeeding.
Do not try to lose weight when you are breastfeeding as the fat accumulated during pregnancy is used for milk production. Breastfeeding will help you lose the weight you have gained.
It is important to eat enough to fill up on energy and avoid deficiencies. Avoid low-calorie diets, diets that exclude carbohydrates even though they are necessary for energy supply. Veillez à consommer suffisamment de protéines animales ou végétales.
Pour favoriser la lactation, vous pouvez fractionner les prises alimentaires. Ideally, you should have 2 to 3 snacks a day in addition to your 3 main meals. The foods chosen should provide key nutrients to cover important needs.
Medicines during breastfeeding
During breast-feeding, it is better to avoid consuming drugs because they too are absorbed by the mother’s milk.
They can affect your milk production and even harm your child.
However, if you must use it, do not hesitate to ask your doctor or a health professional for advice.
Foods that inhibit breast milk production
Some foods are known to have anti-galactogenic effects. This means that they slow down or limit milk production. These foods include:
which are traditionally used to decrease the production of breast milk,
which are recommended in case of overproduction of milk or to support weaning.
However, experts generally agree that the amounts used are minimal in the kitchen and have no real impact on breastfeeding.
Foods that make babies react
On the other hand, sometimes the baby reacts to the feeding of the mother. This is more likely in a family with a family history of allergies. The child may show some signs or physical manifestations in reaction to the ingestion of a sensitive food. In this case, the mother can squeeze out the said food for a few days and observe a possible change on the side of the baby.
Cow’s milk protein is the most common cause of food intolerance in breastfed babies. Attention, cela ne veut pas dire que c’est une intolérance systématique : il n’y a donc aucune raison d’interdire la consommation de lait de vache à toutes les mères allaitantes. The other foods to watch out for are foods with a high protein content such as soya, egg whites, peanuts including nuts, fish including cod especially but also wheat or tomatoes, spices (seed of mustard in particular), corn or citrus fruits.
Breastfed babies, gourmets
The diversity of the maternal diet allows the baby, thanks to milk, to discover multiple flavors of the family table, offering a wealth of taste. This is the first step towards diversification, even before any introduction of solids. Make breastfeeding and pleasure rhyme and take as much pleasure in tasting your menu as your baby does in breastfeeding!
National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (ANSES) – June 2019
Breastfeeding Treatise, La Leche League International – 2003