Allergies and What You Eat While Breastfeeding
By Alicia Purdy
Whether because of misunderstandings, cultural differences or even old wives tales, your breastfeeding diet may feel like a long list of "don'ts." A lot of what you should and should not eat will depend on how your baby reacts during or after feedings. The foods you eat do affect the texture, makeup, consistency, quality, taste, and even the smell of your breast milk. Additionally, it's possible to pass things to your baby through breast milk that won't affect you, but will affect them.
Is your baby allergic to your breast milk?
The short answer is "maybe," but unlikely. For example, an allergic reaction the baby has to your breast milk is usually a reaction to a protein in cow's milk that you consumed. While it is possible for a baby to be intolerant of breast milk, it is usually the mother's diet that is to blame, meaning there's an easy solution. Talk to your doctor to learn about the foods that you eat that baby may react to, and how to detect allergies.
Was it something you ate?
Allergies are more common than ever, with one in five children developing a food allergy before the age of 20, according to experts. This is in part because some children are exposed to allergy-causing foods while still too young. A food allergy stems from the body mistaking the elements of the food as foreign bodies and an allergic response is triggered. The good news is, if you are exclusively breastfeeding, you can control what foods your baby is exposed to. This means there is less exposure to allergens. Less exposure to allergens means a lower likelihood of allergies later on.
If you suspect a specific food is causing an allergic reaction in your baby, stop eating that food for 10 days and see if the reaction clears up. If it's an allergy to something in your breast milk, it will start to improve after 5-7 days. After 10 days, add the food back into your diet and see if the reaction occurs again.
Culprit Foods and Baby Allergies
There isn't one "list of foods all moms should avoid" because what bothers one person may not bother another. It's the same with babies. This is especially true cross-culturally where some women in other countries eat very spicy foods that don't bother them or their babies, for example. In general, you should be able to eat what you want - unless you see a reaction from your baby.