Yep it’s true a mother’s milk will pass all consumed substances through to her child. Obviously this can be either advantageous or detrimental depending upon the mother’s awareness and her lifestyle habits.
DETRIMENTAL SUBSTANCES INCLUDE:
Alcohol, caffeine, recreational drugs and prescription and over-the-counter medications all pass through breast milk through to our baby’s. These substances are mildly filtered by the mother’s metabolism but their harmful effects will still impact our child due to their small body-weight ratio. So it’s incredibly important that we are mindful of all things we consume.
There are specific foods which are known to contribute to irritability and colic in newborn babies (see Items to Avoid When Breastfeeding). Alchol obviously impacts our baby’s growing brain but it also creates digestive upset so it’s important to consider if those post birth bubles some hospitals offer and friends offer when we arrive home are really worth it if it means our baby will have a tummy ache for the next 24 hours.
The foods outlined that are known to cause colicky symptoms can slowly be introduced after the baby’s first six months but parents should carefully monitor the baby’s physical and behavioural responses. Irritating food items include wine, champagne and caffeine, which is found in tea, coffee and Coca-Cola. Unfortunately, chocolate also ranks highly on the Items to Avoid list due to the effects of both caffeine and theobromine, another stimulant.
Others items include artificial sweeteners, soft-drinks and carbonated beverages, fatty foods, lentils, beans and split peas. Acidic fruits such as oranges and berries may also be irritating for newborns. Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauli- flower, broccoli and turnip may exacerbate colic. Onions and garlic may be problematic, as can heavily spiced foods.
We all know breast feeding is time consuming but it’s vitally important that a mothers diet doesn’t rely on quick snack foods or refined carbohydrates. Planning ahead is the key. We need a diet high in good fats (for example nuts, avocado, butter, coconut oil) clean proteins and lots of vegetables and fruits. Ideally all organic. These foods provide nutrients for our baby’s growing brain and help build their digestive strength.
Unfortunately a nursing mother’s diet that rely’s heavily on convenience, wheat-based foods can also contribute towards a colicky baby partly because of preservative 282 (calcium propionate), found in most breads, frequently affects breastfed babies, presenting symptoms such as screaming and chronic diarrhoea. Additionally hidden additives and other preservatives found in refined foods irritate our newborns sensitive nervous system and their digestion. Mothers are often unaware of these detrimental side-effects.
ITEMS TO AVOID WHEN BREASTFEEDING
The foods listed below are known irritants for babies. Once your baby has reached six months, you may choose to slowly re-introduce some of these foods into your diet. It’s best to re-introduce them in minimal doses so as to avoid restlessness and stomach upsets for your baby.
- Drugs—over-the-counter, prescription and social drugs will all adversely affect your baby. Valium and phenobarbitone can cause sedation.
- Nicotine—affects your baby’s lungs, heart rate and can cause vomiting and diarrhoea (please see Chapter 6 of Well Adjusted Babies for further information). Smoking may also reduce breast milk.
- Alcohol—affects your baby’s brain (please see Chapter 4) and causes sedation. Red wine and champagne in particular will cause irritability.
- Caffeine—found in tea, coffee, chocolate, coca-cola and many other fizzy drinks is an addictive stimulant which causes sleeplessness and irritability.
- Chocolate—theobromine is a stimulant.
- Artificial sweeteners found in assorted confectionery may also cause hyperactivity.
- Soft-drinks and carbonated beverages.
- Fatty foods.
- Lentils and most secondary proteins such as beans.
- Split peas (beware of your mothers ‘pea and ham’ soup!).
- Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and turnip, and onions and garlic, may be problematic.
- Heavily spiced foods
- Acidic fruits (too many oranges and berries, etc).
- Dairy products—cow’s milk is the first allergen to which infants commonly react. Please see Chapters 5, 22 and 23 of Well AdJusted Babies for further information. If you are sensitive to these products, remember that you and your baby will be better off without them. Constant consumption of dairy may lead to nutritional deficits and compromised immune systems for you both.
- Refined or simple carbohydrates often contain dairy products and preservative 282—please see Chapter 22
- Rhubarb or laxatives such as senna, aloe or cascara—can also increase an infant’s bowel activity.
- Sports Protein bars and shakes—these may actually decrease your milk supply! There is an array of artificial chemicals in some of these products, which may cause a decline in breast milk. (I inadvertently stumbled across this realisation when I ate one of my husband’s protein bars whilst driving his car one day. I was starving hungry and someone had given him some protein bar samples, without looking at the ingredients I inhaled the bar and then was completely shocked by the outcome. My breast milk dried up for two days, and I could not attribute this to any other food item which may have caused this same reaction). Note: I am referring to highly concentrated, artificially fortified sources of protein combined with an array of chemically-derived ingredients that probably impacted my supply of breast milk. I am not referring to protein in its natural, God-intended form. By no means should mothers avoid high quality, natural sources of protein.
In the “Post Birth” Chapter of Well Adjusted Babies we discuss specific dietary items that are beneficial for you and your baby. These items include goods fats such as omega-3 polyunsaturated fats DHA and EPA for your baby’s developing brain, and probiotics which help to establish good bacteria within your baby’s digestive system. Please refer to the Post Birth Chapter for further explanation.
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In health and happiness
Dr Jennifer Barham-Floreani
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