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Breastfeeding: Still Eating for Two

You may have heard that there are certain foods you should avoid when you are breastfeeding, but that's not necessarily the case, according to the WakeMed lactation counselors.

In general, breastfeeding moms do not need to adhere to a specific diet. Your body uses the nutrients necessary to make milk. It's fairly simple: drink when you are thirsty, and eat when you are hungry.

Most babies are not affected by what their mothers eat, but if your baby becomes fussy, there are a few foods that can be the culprit. Many times it's a food that has caused uncomfortable gas.

Think back (four to 24 hours) and determine if you've eaten something known to cause gas (cabbage, broccoli, beans, etc.). Few babies are bothered by more than two or more foods, so eliminate the suspected food for 48 hours. Then try the food again at a later time.

Alcohol and caffeine go into your milk in varying amounts. If your baby seems irritable during the evening and you are drinking caffeine-containing drinks during the day, cut back on those drinks for a few days and see if that helps settle down your baby.

You should consult with your pediatrician before you drink any alcohol.

Cow's milk also seems to be a common source of food sensitivity and fussiness in babies, possibly because many women are encouraged to drink a lot of milk during pregnancy. This can sensitize a baby before birth and while breastfeeding. The protein in cow's milk passes into a mother's milk. If the baby is sensitive to it, it can cause fussiness. Not all food sensitivities are as obvious as gas. Symptoms such as congestion, eczema and wheezing, as well as fussiness, may start gradually, and their cause may not be apparent.

Try to remember if you've eaten anything new or different that could be causing the problem. If so, eliminate the suspected food for 48 to 72 hours to see if the baby responds positively. If you suspect your baby is allergic or sensitive to certain foods, keep a food journal. It will help you see what you have eaten that may be the cause of your baby's fussiness.

If your baby does not have sensitivities, continue to eat a varied and healthy diet. A mother's varied diet may be an advantage to her breastfeeding baby because it alters the taste of her milk, providing baby with a variety of tastes, which prepares him/her for the solid foods at the family table when he/she is older.