Supplements to Avoid While Breastfeeding

Are breastfeeding supplements and foods doing your baby more harm than good? Not every nutritious supplement and food you feed on is healthy to your baby. While most of them are okay, others will pose adverse effects and reactions to your little angel.

This, mostly, are foods that are claimed to boost milk production. Such foods include: kiwi, prunes, gluten, strawberry, pineapple, citrus fruits, eggs, peanuts, soy, cow’s milk and dairy products.

These foods will have adverse reactions if they’re taken without restraint. They are the common culprits in causing irritation to your baby and should be taken with caution. For example, cow’s milk is considered to be sensitive to babies, so It’s important you avoid formulas that contain lactose as an ingredient.

To know if the food or supplement you’re feeding on is unsuitable to your baby, consider the following reactions.

  • The baby gets gassy after breastfeeding
  • Congestion, coughing or wheezing
  • Abnormal fussiness
  • Diarrheas after breastfeeding
  • Gets eczema or itchy rash on skin
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Vomiting and excessive spit up
  • Colic and crying
  • Bloody, mucousy or abnormal stool

Often times, these symptoms occur about 6-hours after feeding because they have made their way into breast milk.

Because there is a lot of confusion on supplements to avoid while breastfeeding, I have curated a list of supplements that should be taken with utmost keenness for the comfort and wellbeing of your baby.

1. Herbal Supplements (Botanical)

Although most supplements are regarded as best options in improving milk supply, some herbs should be taken with caution because they are toxic. Examples include: boldo, rosemary, juniper, red clover, blue cohosh, pennyroyal and licorice.

Other supplements will make the supply of milk to subside. Supplements like catnip, yarrow, chasteberry, feverfew and Andrographis among others should be avoided.

There are other herbal supplements that are potentially known in affecting how insulin function. For example, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is reported to reduce the quantity of fat in breast milk. In the long run, the nursing baby will not get the right fat quantity in their body which will potentially be unhealthy.

The best herbal supplements are those that are rich in vitamin A, E, C, D and B6. However, they should be taken in right amounts and not in excess.

2. Caffeine

There is a widespread controversy regarding the use of caffeine by nursing and pregnant mothers. In essence, there is no general consensus as to how much quantity should be consumed by a pregnant or nursing mom.

For nursing mothers, studies confirm that consumption of coffee or tea will interrupt how your baby sleeps.  In other words, intake of coffee will make napping your baby difficult since the coffee you take will be part of the nutrients in your breast milk.

Apparently, this is evident because we all know that coffee is very important if you want to keep yourself alert at night and your baby is no exception.

In Denmark, studies also confirmed that high coffee consumption by moms led to low birth weight to their breastfeeding babies. However, some other studies have disapproved the connection.

To be on the safe side, limit the coffee you take to less than three cups per day. You can complement your coffee with tea or soda to satisfy your cravings.

3. Fish Species

Sea food like fish species are popular in providing essential omega-3 that promotes the growth of healthy brains neurons, memory and other cognitive abilities.

Unfortunately, most sea foods are contaminated with high levels of arsenic mercury and lead. Studies indicate that 50% of supplements with seafood contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and toxic metals.

Fishes like tilefish, mackerel, swordfish and shark should be avoided since they contain high levels of these toxic metals.

However, feel free to take about 12 ounces of shrimp, catfish, pollock and salmon per week. That translates to about 2 meals of these type of fish per week. They contain just traces of mercury that have negligible effect on your baby’s brain.

4. Alcohol and Gassy Foods

Taking a beer occasionally is totally fine. However, do not breastfeed until all the alcohol is cleared from your system. If possible, drink alcohol after breastfeeding the baby but do not breastfeed 2 or 3 hours after drinking.  You can also pump the milk ahead of drinking and reserve it for your baby until you’re sober.

On the other hand, foods like Brussels, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts and broccoli will potentially cause your baby to be gassy. While burping would help in removing the gas and bloating, it may not work in a colic baby.

5. Garlic

Garlic flavor turns out as unfavorable to nursing babies. If you had eaten garlic recently and your baby seems not to enjoy the breast, the flavor of the milk as a result of garlic is the turn off. 

Remember the composition of the ingredients in breastmilk is the combination of the food you eat. However, if you feed on garlic during pregnancy, there are high chances your baby will enjoy the milk because he/she is accustomed to the flavor.

Garlic flavor however, does affect the nursing period. Apparently, the garlic flavor will shorten how long the baby stays on breast since they find the flavor not delicious.

Final Thoughts

The best thing to do if you suspect the food you had eaten as sensitive to the baby is to eliminate it from your diet, then see if there will be any difference with your baby in the next couple of weeks.

If there is any difference, discuss the issue with your doctor. He/she will give an analysis of the supplements and food you’re taking and if the reaction is coming from the supplements or something else.

You’ll be advised on supplements to avoid while breastfeeding and recommendations on foods and supplements to replace the foods you’ll be missing.