Put simply, the growth and development of your baby is directly affected by what you eat, especially through pregnancy and nursing. You are also effected what your baby eats because if you don’t provide your body with the ability to make the things his growing body needs, then your body will be taxed with making them for your milk. Finally, what your baby eats affects their behavior, learning, tantrums and frustrations. Here’s some things to definitely avoid while nursing, others that can enhance yours and his health as you nurse, and better than that, enhance both your health after nursing too.
What’s Not OK While Nursing
Hopefully it goes without saying that smoking and drinking too much alcohol while nursing are obviously not ok. But there are other definite things to avoid when nursing.
Foods to Avoid While Nursing and Pregnant
- Polluted Fish (like swordfish and shark)
- Hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated fats and oils
- Artificial sweeteners
Soy contains plant-based estrogens, which hormonally disrupt both mom and nursing baby. It also contains thyroid-blocking factors that can lead to metabolic problems and an underactive thyroid. Thyroid issues may lead to fatigue, cold extremities and failure to lose weight. Research suggests children born to moms with underactive thyroids have a below average IQ below too.
Hopefully we’re all pretty aware of the danger the amount of sugar in our current diet can have, but when it comes to young babies, sugar’s worst influence is on yeast. Any type of sugar feeds yeasts in your gut. In large amounts, yeasts cause vaginal yeast infections, sugar cravings and the breast infection mastitis. Mastitis is dangerous for mom and baby because it can cause thrush, diaper rash, food intolerance, food allergies and nutrient deficiencies.
Also, when yeast eats sugar, it puts out toxic byproducts that pass through your milk. In your baby’s stomach these byproducts reduce stomach acid. Sufficient stomach acid is required to ward off acid reflux, colic, food allergies and infection in babies. Therefore, it’s wise to avoid eating sugar as a nursing mom.
The most important advice for nursing moms is to stay hydrated to provide enough fluid to produce milk. It’s so important that a female’s body can and will trigger hormonal changes that cause the body to release chemicals telling the brain it’s incredibly thirsty during the first few minutes of breastfeeding. This built in mechanism is to ensure sufficient hydration. In addition to the amount, what you drink is also important for both you and your baby.
- Caffeinated beverages (coffee, teas, chocolate and soda). Caffeine is a diuretic and can make you more prone to inadequate hydration possibly affecting milk supply. Also it will get into breast milk so watch for signs of caffeine sensitivity in your baby: wakefulness, hyperactivity, colicky behavior and shorter duration feedings.
- Even some herbal teas according to the PDR for Herbal Medicines, herbal teas that contain alfalfa, burdock, cornflower, dandelion, dog rose, ginger, hibiscus, mint and spearmint, marshmallow, holly, horsetail, juniper, larkspur, calendula, corn silk, mate, meadowsweet, olive leaf, parsley, nettle, sweet clover, fennel, uva ursi or winter cherry may be diuretic.
- Alcohol enters breast milk within 30-60 min, more than 1-2 social drinks can hinder ‘let down’ and it has been shown to create problems with your baby’s sleep cycle. Wait at least 2 hours after any drink to nurse. If you have any more, it’s wise to ‘pump and dump’. And personally while there’s no use crying over spilt milk, there’s most definitely every reason to cry here!
Genetically modified organisms look and taste just like their counterparts, but their DNA is nothing like nature’s version. The company’s that make them force DNA from bacteria and viruses into recipient DNA to ‘engineer’ seeds to produce their own insecticides or survive being sprayed with massive quantities of pesticides. Consuming GMOs means you’re getting more toxic exposure from pesticides since those crops are sprayed much more – whether GMO are safe or not!
Mutated cells in GMO crops have been shown to spread to human cells when eaten and implicated in increased immune reactions. Further, today’s most popular vegetable oils are made from GMOs which is another reason to avoid them too.
Following Paleo real food values we can see just how optimal health is entirely possible from the right form of foods and nutrient density. None more so than a nursing mom with all the enzymes, nutrients, vitamins and minerals she needs for herself and her baby, some daily, others weekly, but like any diet, best adapted uniquely to her needs.
Here are some specifics:
Butter – better than you thought
Butter is a stick of big (healthy) fat nourishment and it makes food taste good. Grass-fed butter is an amazing healing food containing fat-soluble vitamin A, beta-carotene, conjugated linoleic acid (potent cancer fighter found exclusively in grass fed dairy and animal fat), omega 3s (especially DHA, crucial for building your baby’s brain), and vitamin E. Butter’s fatty acids provide these excellent nutrients but along with the fat to make sure your body can use them: perfect.
The right fats
Your breast milk is naturally high in healthy fats – almost 60% – both saturated fat and cholesterol especially important for your baby’s brain which is also about 60% fat. If you don’t provide your body with the ability to make these then it will be taxed with making them for your milk. Most of your healthy fats should come from clarified butter, eggs and meat; coconut fats (oil and milk) should contribute significantly due to their special medium chain triglycerides (fats that feed probiotics and spur metabolism). Fish, oily fish and nuts will round out your essential (your body cannot make these, so you need to ingest them) fatty acid needs.
Eat a variety of leafy greens, vegetables, seeds, nuts and fruits as your main source of carbohydrates. They pack great nutrition and fiber but don’t spike your blood sugar as much as the more commonly consumed carbs; refined grains and beans, which particularly are hardest to digest and can block the digestive tract.
In conclusion, the goal is for your diet to be as nutritious as possible with the least amount of toxins. Unfortunately, if you don’t provide your body with the ability to make the essentials for your growing baby, then they’ll be taken from you. This can mean a lifetime of problems for you both. Thankfully, optimal health is entirely possible with the right foods and nutrients.