A mother’s milk will pass consumed substances through to her child. This can be either advantageous or detrimental, depending upon the mother’s awareness and her lifestyle habits. Below is an extract from Well Adjusted Babies 2nd Edition.
Alcohol, caffeine, recreational drugs and prescription and over-the-counter medications all pass through your breast milk to your baby.44 These substances are mildly filtered by the mother’s metabolism but their harmful effects will still impact your child due to their small body-weight ratio. So be mindful.
There are specific foods which are known to contribute to irritability and colic in newborn babies. Sometimes it is just not worth having that glass of champagne if it means your baby will have a tummy ache for the next 24 hours. These foods can slowly be introduced after the baby’s first six months, but parents should carefully monitor the baby’s physical and behavioural responses.
The foods and substances 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.45
- Nicotine—affects your baby’s lungs, heart rate and can cause vomiting and diarrhoea (please see Chapter 6 for further information). Smoking may also reduce breast milk.46
- Alcohol—affects your baby’s brain and causes sedation.47 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—theobromine48 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 ‘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. If prematurely introduced, it is suggested that cow’s milk is able to trigger the onset of juvenile diabetes, asthma, eczema, and a variety of allergic conditions. Please see Chapters 5, 22 and 23 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.49
- 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. 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.