Does my breast milk transfer what I eat and drink to my baby?

1461468675022_breast-milkThere are certain substances from foods, after around 1 to 24 hours of ingestion, that can make it to a mother’s breastmilk although the average would be 4 to 6 hours which will depend on several factors. These would include the breastfeeding mom’s metabolism, the type of food she has taken, the amount of food ingested, and how often she nurses her baby among others. While these things may appear too much to handle, they don’t really need to cause any worries.

One type of food that can cause problems for babies is the milk protein of a cow that appears in breastmilk after a mother has ingested dairy products. Infant sensitivity to dairy products is estimated to be present among 2 to 7 percent of babies. More often than not, babies who are sensitive to dairy products come from a family that has a history of allergies. Still, it is better for these babies to be fed with breastmilk as opposed to formula milk. Instead of opting for formula milk, mothers are advised to reduce or even totally eliminate dairy products in their diet. The reason is that at least half of these infants with cow’s milk sensitivity also have allergies to soy based formulas.

So long as you have fairly healthy eating habits, you don’t really have to change them while you are breastfeeding. Experts believe that one advantage of breastfeeding is how it helps the baby to become accustomed to a variety of tastes and how he tends to adopt fewer feeding problems later when he gets older. This is because the milk becomes flavored due to the mother’s food intake.

Can my baby develop an allergy to my milk? 

In essence, babies are not “allergic” to breastmilk. However, there are a few cases when some highly sensitive babies would display mild to severe reactions to foreign proteins found in their mother’s milk. As a breastfeeding mother, you can absorb food proteins into your body from your intestines and then pass the same food proteins to your baby through your breastmilk.

Sensitive babies who are in their first six months of life have immature stomach lining. When the breastmilk develops allergens, it can get into the bloodstream and cause the baby to have allergic responses. Moreover, the lining of the intestines is believed to be more sensitive during the baby’s early months which makes it more easily irritated compared to that time when the baby becomes a little older.

When the baby becomes older than six months, the lining of his intestines had somehow reached maturity which allows it to develop a sort of a protective shield against allergens. At this stage, your baby also becomes much less sensitive to the foods you include in your diet.

In other words, developing less sensitivity to foods in a baby is one of the reasons why exclusive breastfeeding is encouraged during the first six months of life of an infant.

What types of food are considered as problematic? 

While it is true that breastfeeding mothers can go ahead and eat anything they want, there are cases when some would feel that there’s a need to eliminate a particular food because of how they think it is causing a problem to their baby.

Some of the most common problematic foods that breastfeeding mothers should be aware of would include eggs, dairy products,  wheat, peanuts, shellfish, citrus, corn and soy.

You would know that your baby is affected by the proteins found in cow’s milk if he has any of the following symptoms:

  1. a poor appetite
  2. constipation
  3. wheeziness or coughing
  4. itchy skin and a red rash
  5. changes to his poo
  6. bloating
  7. swollen eyes, face or hips
  8. diarrhea
  9. vomiting or reflux
  10. eczema
  11. poor growth

What should I include in my diet when breastfeeding? 

Breastfeeding mothers can eat a variety of foods while breastfeeding. You can continue drinking caffeinated beverages (in moderation), drink alcohol occasionally, eat what you want to eat and still provide your baby with the best nutrition and source of immunology protection that comes from your milk.

Experts suggest that breastfeeding mothers should at least include these types of food in their diet.

  1. a lot of fruits and vegetables which can either be fresh, frozen or canned
  2. fiber-rich foods such as wholegrain bread and pasta
  3. starchy foods such as rice
  4. protein-rich foods such as eggs, lean chicken, oily fish and pulses
  5. dairy foods such as cheese and milk

If you see that your baby seems to react to a certain type of food because of your breastmilk, you can try to eliminate the suspected food in your diet for several days and see if there will be any changes or difference.

What types of food are unsafe for breastfeeding moms like me? 

Foods that are unsafe for a breastfeeding mom are totally different from foods that are deemed as problematic. The latter becomes a source of concern only in few cases and may not be applicable to every breastfeeding mother. However, knowing which food is safe and which ones are not should be every breastfeeding mom’s utmost priority.

  1. Fish – Breastfeeding moms are advised to limit their fish intake because of its mercury content. If you like white tuna, you can have canned albacore every week so long as you don’t consume more than six ounces.
  1. Caffeine – Having too much caffeine in your diet can cause your baby to become too fussy that he may never want to sleep. Remember that apart from coffee, you can also find caffeine in soda and tea as well as in over-the-counter medications. Always read the label to find out if the medicine you’re taking has caffeine in it.
  1. Alcohol – If you like alcohol, always take note of your intake. It is believed that alcohol affects your body’s production of breastmilk. Trace amounts of alcohol can also show up in your milk which can cause some harm to your baby. Just have alcohol occasionally and when you do, wait at least two hours before breastfeeding your baby.
  1. Vitamin C – This type of vitamin has been linked to mild diaper rash in babies.
  1. Spice – Eating too much spicy food can cause your baby to become gassy and uncomfortable.

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