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I remember when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter; I instantly started craving, sushi, alcohol, coffee and caviar dip. All things I absolutely knew that I couldn’t have. After she was born, and while I was still in the hospital, one of my good friends brought in a little take away sushi box and a piccolo of champagne. I ate all the sushi (with groans of appreciation), and opened my little Moet bottle, only to realise I was going to have to pass my glass over to my dear friend.

While I was pregnant, I had just been looking to the birth as the end game, but quickly realised that there were a number of restrictions that I would need to observe as a new mum too. Here are some of the things that I learned about foods and breastfeeding as a new mum.

There are a number of foods that breastfeeding mothers should either avoid or limit their intake off across the board.

  • Fish with a high mercury content including flake, swordfish, tuna
  • Shellfish with a high mercury content

Some areas will also have particular fish or shellfish, which are affected by mercury. Make sure you check your local fisheries to ensure you choose fish with low mercury levels.

  • Fatty meat. The extra fat on meat should be removed when cooking where possible. This fat absorbs and can pass on toxins to you and your baby.
  • Artificial sweeteners. These contain a very high number of complex chemicals.
  • Alcohol. Should be avoided while breastfeeding. If you wish to have a drink, don’t breastfeed your baby until the alcohol has left your system; use Milkscreen to test. 1 – 2 drinks can take five or more hours to be flushed from the bloodstream and breastmilk. Plan ahead and ensure you have enough stored milk to feed your baby safely.
  • Highly processed foods. These have a huge amount of additives which can affect both you and your baby.
  • Coffee/caffeine. Depending on your child, you may have to give up coffee completely, or you may be able to safely consume one coffee a day. I, unfortunately was one of those mammas who had to live without the nectar of the Gods. If you are able to have coffee, don’t overindulge, it will help to keep you awake…but may also overstimulate your little one.

Breastfeeding mothers will also be aware that other more common foods can trigger a reaction in their baby. While I was breastfeeding my daughter; I couldn’t have onions, capsicum, chocolate or coffee. My son is fine with chocolate, and capsicum, but not onions, coffee or lots of milk.

I have since found out that my mother has an extreme allergy to capsicum, I have developed an intolerance for it, and my daughter still, at five, cannot eat it without having a reaction.

Take note of any allergies or intolerances in your family and proceed with caution when eating. Some signs that your baby may be having an adverse reaction to what you’re eating can include;

  • nappy rash
  • itchy or patchy skin
  • more fussy behaviour than usual
  • constantly running nose
  • gastro problems including wind, diarrhoea or constipation
  • excessive vomiting

Unfortunately, as a mother you will know that any or all of these can be caused by almost anything, or indeed nothing.

If you are trying something new and you are concerned about the way that your baby might react, make sure you have a good supply of expressed breast milk available. The Ameda store and pour bags are good for this as they store easily in the freezer. You should also keep a food diary, including how your baby behaves and any adverse symptoms presenting over a few days. This way you can see any patterns emerging with particular foods.

Once you have worked out your babies patterns, you’ll be well on the way to a healthy (and hopefully diverse and interesting) breastfeeding diet.