Every culture has it’s set of myths about breastfeeding especially when it comes to the mother’s diet and many times, these myths are so ingrained in popular belief that it becomes difficult to distinguish facts from old wives tales. Below is a list of common breastfeeding myths and what experts say about them.
Breastfeeding Myth : Some foods make your baby colicky. Avoid cabbage, cauliflower, watercress, leeks, garlic and onions while nursing, or the baby will get gas. The list of foods that make a baby colicky is endless and varies from culture to culture. Though some babies are more upset by certain foods that would typically give gas to an adult such as beans or cabbage, every baby reacts differently to his mother’s diet and there is no universal rule as to what might upset a child’s stomach.
Breastfeeding Myth: Spices and citrus fruits irritate the baby’s stomach and change the taste of the mother’s milk. Many midwives will tell you not to eat spicy foods or citrus as this will affect the taste of your milk, and upset your child’s stomach but there is no scientific data that proves this. In countries such as Mexico or India where diet is typically spicy, mothers don’t fuss over these things and their babies still thrive.
According to Susan Condon, Lactation expert at Baby centre.com the taste of breast milk changes according to the mother’s diet and by eating a varied diet including spicy food and citrus the mother is introducing her baby to different tastes. So enjoy what you are eating, but keep an eye open for possible food allergies and remember that moderation is key especially when trying new foods when nursing.
Click here for more information about eating spicy foods while nursing and how to recognize food allergies in your baby
Breastfeeding Myth : Garlic, Fennel and beer increase milk production. Though many will tell you this is true, there is no scientific data that backs this. There are also nutritional supplements available on the market that claim to increase milk production, but again there is no scientific research that proves the validity of these substances except for a placebo (or psychological) effect.
Breastfeeding Myth: Breastfeeding will slim you down no matter what you eat. Your body will work around the clock to produce milk and this means that you will feel hungry and lose weight more easily while breastfeeding, but binging on a diet of high calorie foods or trying to maximise weight loss in the first few weeks after giving birth can hinder not only to your milk production but also your health.
According to Susan Condon, a healthy and well balanced diet is essential to the mother’s health because just like during pregnancy, your body will give priority to milk production. If your diet is unhealthy, milk production will sap at the nutrients stored in your body.
The best plan is to increase your daily calorie intake by approximately 500 calories and stick to a diet with plenty of vegetables, meat, dairies and water. Aim for gradual weight loss, rather than going for harsh exercise regimes and dieting, as this is the best way to lose your pregnancy weight and keep the pounds away even after you stop breast feeding.
Click here for more information about the diet for a healthy breastfeeding mom
Breastfeeding Myth: You can’t get pregnant if you are breastfeeding. Though there is some truth in this statement, you should not rely solely on breastfeeding as a method of contraception. Even if you are less fertile in the first months after giving birth, and many women don’t menstruate for months, you will not know when you are ovulating because your body will release it’s first post partum egg a couple of weeks before your first period.
Robert Zurawin obstetrician and fertility specialist at Babycentre.com advises that women who don’t want to get pregnant while nursing should begin using birth control again as soon as they start having sex. Rather than going for oral contraceptives, many doctors advise for barrier contraception such as condoms and the diaphragm which should be totally safe while nursing.
Susan Condon – Is it ok to eat spicy food while nursing? Babycentre.com
Susan Condon- will breastfeeding help me lose weight? Babycentre.com
Robert Zurawin – Can I conceive while breastfeeding? Babycentre.com