Breastfeeding Support for Indian mothers

FAQ 10: Food! What to eat and what not to eat while breastfeeding?

Colic and gas can be so hard to handle, and often times, a mother blames herself or is blamed.

The good news is unless the baby is showing symptoms of intolerance (blood in the stool, low weight gain), there's no need to avoid any foods.

The vast majority of foods have zero effect on breastmilk and gas in most babies.

It's important to understand how breastmilk is produced - Breastmilk is a blood product. Your food is digested into its most basic forms, amino acids, vitamins, proteins, and sugars by your digestive system. Then those go into your bloodstream and into your mammary glands to be made into milk.

That said, some babies do experience gas, as their gut is still maturing, and this may or may not be affected further by the food consumed by the mother. In such cases, a mother can assess her diet to check if she has anything eaten for the first time. Or if anything she frequently eats gives the baby a similar reaction. If so, then the quantity of those specific foods can be reduced or cut off for a few weeks and then be introduced back slowly into the mother's diet. Dairy, seafood, soy, nuts, certain vegetables and legumes (but not restricted to these foods) are generally responsible for causing discomfort. Some babies may be affected by overly spicy food as well. It may help to maintain a food diary if the baby seems sensitive.

It is an endearing fact that older babies may be able to pick out food that the mother may have eaten earlier by tasting breastmilk alone. Sometimes when the mother has eaten spinach, beetroot, etc., the colour of the milk also changes accordingly, so it would be wrong to entirely dismiss the fact that the mother's diet affects breastmilk.

Every baby is different, and a mother knows what's best for her child. Don't dismiss your instinct, at the same time, there's no need restrict your life or your food intake, unless there are obvious signs of discomfort.