How to Eat What You Want While Breastfeeding (and eliminate infant fussiness)

"My baby is fussy and having a hard time sleeping. Is this normal?”

"My baby spits up after each feeding. She's fussy and acting differently. What do I do?"

"Do I need to watch what I eat when breastfeeding?"

If you're wondering whether your breastfed baby is just gassy or if it's something more, you're not alone.

And if it feels like we're in your mind, we're not. But we have seen this question, in its many variations, posted on the app.

This week on Social Mama, we are deep-diving into how to understand if your baby is intolerant to something in your breast milk, what you can or can't eat while breastfeeding, and how to ensure you have a healthy and happy breastfed baby (and mom).

Are you ready? Let's go!

Basics of a Healthy Breastfeeding Diet

Yes, mama, you can eat whatever you like, whenever you want, however much you wish UNLESS you notice a reaction in your baby.

There is no exact science behind foods you should avoid because babies who are sensitive to specific foods are unique – what bothers one may not bother another.

You may be what you eat, but your breast milk is not. The fat-protein-carb combination of human milk isn't directly related to the foods and drinks you put into your body. Even if you don't get enough nutrients to produce milk, your body will tap into its stores to fuel milk production to ensure adequate nutrition for your baby.

Just because you can make milk on a less-than-adequate diet doesn't mean you should.

Pregnancy depletes you of key nutrients, as does breastfeeding; the aim is to keep well-fed and hydrated when you’re easily burning 300-500 calories every single day.

Eating well when you're nursing means getting a variety of nutritious foods which, pro tip, exposes your baby to many different flavors to enhance their growing taste buds and future food preferences!

Tip #1: Eat This, And That

Ensure you’re getting enough nutrients by consuming:

  • Protein: 3 servings/day

  • Calcium: 5 servings or between 1,000 and 1,500 mg/day

  • Iron-rich foods: 1 or more servings/day

  • Vitamin C: 2 servings/day

  • Leafy greens 3 to 4 servings/day

  • Other fruits and veggies: 1 or more servings/day

  • Whole grains and complex carbohydrates: 3 or more servings/day

  • High-fat foods

  • Omega 3s: 2 to 3 servings/day

  • Prenatal vitamin: Daily

  • Drink at least 8 cups per day, more if you feel thirsty.

Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding

  • Excessive caffeine: 300 milligrams or less is safe while you're breastfeeding. If your baby seems jittery, irritable, or sleepless, dial back caffeine intake.

  • High-mercury fish: Avoid high-mercury fish like shark, orange roughy, swordfish, marlin, bigeye tuna, tilefish, and King mackerel. Limit tuna to 8 to 12 ounces a week of canned light tuna or no more than 4 ounces a week of white albacore tuna.

  • High-fat dairy and meat: Pesticides and chemicals reside in animal fat, so it's best to stick to low-fat dairy and meat.

  • Processed foods: Check labels and avoid processed foods containing long lists of additives.