12 Foods To Avoid While Breastfeeding To Prevent Colic

A mom breastfeeding a baby

Every mother and mother-to-be has heard of the dreaded C-word – colic. It’s everything they tell you it is.

And some eye bags to boot. Did you know that the foods we eat have a direct impact on the baby’s tummy as well?

Had I known of some foods not to eat when breastfeeding, managing colic would have been much easier.

Read on to find out the foods to avoid during breastfeeding to prevent colic.

A number of babies enjoy flavors in the breast milk and may even feed more because of them.

And some mothers can eat just about anything and their babies will not experience an upset stomach.

Many babies, however, tend to be gassy and fussy when mommy eats certain foods. You may not be aware of what it is yet.

If your baby seems to have more tummy upsets when you eat certain foods, it may be time to strike them off your menu.

A mom breastfeeding a baby

Is it or is it not Colic?

Most babies have gas and will pass it without causing much trouble.

However, if the gas is causing intense pain and tightening of the stomach muscles, then we say the baby has colic.

Colic starts from around two weeks after birth and may go on to about 6 months.

A colicky infant will likely cry uncontrollably for more than three hours in a day on most days, despite being healthy, well-fed and dry.

Naturally, babies cry a whole lot. It’s the only way they know how to communicate and express displeasure.

Different cries mean different things and it helps to know what the baby is trying to say.

How then do you tell if the baby’s relentless cry is from colic?

A baby experiencing colic will be kicking their arms and feet in the air.

You will also notice that the baby makes jerky movements and they will be twisting their body in distress.

A colicky baby won’t accept any comforting and particularly finds it very hard to fall asleep.

Often, he will dose off briefly and then startle back awake and continue the crying.

There may be frequent passing of gas after which the baby seems to have temporary relief.

The baby’s stool sometimes changes colour from a healthy yellow to a greenish colour.

Some mothers have reported streaks of blood in the poop of colicky babies.

If this happens, consult your pediatrician immediately for proper diagnosis.

SEE ALSO: 5 Ways To Burp A Baby That Won’t Burp

Foods NOT To Eat When Breastfeeding

Laden with nutrients and antibodies for your baby, breast milk is the unopposed winner in the baby nutrition competition.

As a new mom, you should maintain a healthy diet to help your body heal and have enough supply of milk for your baby.

Various foods are said to be lactogenic as they boost your milk supply.

However, consuming other foods may be counter-productive as they may end up inducing colic in your baby.

Here are some of the foods that cause colic which may be making you burst eardrums and sleepless nights.

Junk Food

Junk food is not healthy for you, to begin with. If you’re breastfeeding, you have another reason to kick all fast food to the curb.

Such convenience food is laden with preservatives that are bound to cause colic in breastfed babies.

The burgers, pizza, hot-dogs, and French fries may be beckoning to you, but you have to avoid them.

A peaceful baby and your flat tummy will be worthy rewards.

SEE ALSO: 7 Lactogenic Foods To Increase Milk Supply

Nuts

Nuts are recommended since they provide a healthy snack option.

They give you the feeling of being full even after consuming a not-so-huge helping.

Besides, nuts are laden with unsaturated fats and healthy plant protein.

Despite the glowing tribute, some nuts may give you more than a full feeling though.

Avoid cashew nuts and almonds as they may give your breastfed baby colic.

Eggs

Eggs are an awesome source of proteins. Unfortunately, they can also stir up a hurricane in an infant’s tummy when you take them.

Egg whites are particularly suspect and you can start by eliminating the whites before doing away with eggs as a whole if your baby continues to suffer from colic.

Chocolate

The cocoa powder in chocolate is one of the most acidic foods and it can cause acid reflux even in adults.

In breastfed babies, it’s one of the foods that may make your little one gassy and cause stomach cramps.

Also avoid beverages that may contain cocoa powder such as drinking chocolate.

Read the labels on your purchases to make sure you’re not unknowingly ingesting cocoa powder.

You may want to consider cutting off this sweet indulgence until the baby is weaned off the breast.

Dairy products

Dairy products are top of the list of the type of foods to avoid while breastfeeding due to their high content of allergens.

These allergenic proteins get absorbed in breast milk and end up producing colicky symptoms in breastfed babies.

Lactose, the sugar found in milk, is not easily digested. Commonly known as lactose intolerance, this failure to digest lactose leads to major digestive problems including gas, bloating, and cramping.

Cow’s milk is the most common culprit. Consider eliminating foods processed from cow’s milk such as yogurt, ghee, butter etc.

You can substitute dairy products with other types of milk such as soy milk. Always check for cow’s milk presence in your store-bought items.

Caffeine

The craving may still be there since the hormones have not completely flushed out of the system.

However much you’d want to, that cup of cappuccino or bar of chocolate might not be what you need at this phase of life.

Caffeine is discouraged in breastfeeding mothers as it’s rumored to decrease milk production.

While it may not truly reduce your milk production, caffeine needs to be avoided due to its likelihood to cause colic in your baby.

If you suspect that your baby is reacting to the caffeine in your diet, you’ll need to be more diligent in your snack and drinks choice.

Develop the habit of reading labels and ingredients before you make any purchase.

SEE ALSO: How To Increase Milk Supply: What Worked, What Didn’t

Mackerel fish

Fish is a very good source of proteins and minerals for both pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

However, some types of fish contain substantial levels of methylmercury.

The methylmercury is found in the food that fish eats and is not totally eliminated from the fish’s system.

Therefore, it can be passed from the mother to the baby through breast milk. It causes colic and, in some cases, damages the baby’s nervous system.

Know your fish types and exclude the mackerel family such as tuna, shark, and king mackerel from your diet.

Replace them with other non-harmful types of fish such as Tilapia, salmon, and sardines.

Spicy food

I have heard a myth that eating very spicy food when pregnant will burn your baby’s skin. But it’s just that, a myth.

Nevertheless, spicy food is likely to cause colic in your breastfeeding baby.

Spices such as red pepper, green chili, and even garlic may be tantalizing on your tongue, but they will cause a violent protest in your baby’s stomach.

Substitute the suspect spices with friendly ones such as cumin, cinnamon, cardamoms, and the fennel family of seeds.

These are actually known to soothe colic in babies and are used in making gripe water.

The good thing about this spices is that you can add them in your lactation smoothies to help increase your milk supply.

Legumes

Legumes are seeds from the legume family which comprises plants that produce pods with seeds inside.

Lentils, peas, and beans are all examples of legumes.

While the legumes have a very high protein and healthy carbs content, their propensity to produce copious amount of stomach gas is legendary.

Despite having many nutritional benefits, their potential to cause colic makes them among the foods to be avoided.

These legumes are generally known to cause gas even in adults and can potentially create a tornado in breastfed infants.

Beans and lentils are high in proteins and healthy carbs. Despite having many nutritional benefits, their potential to cause colic makes them among the foods to be avoided.

If you have to consume any legumes, choose the lighter colored ones. They are less likely to cause gas their darker counterparts.

Lighter coloured varieties include black-eyed peas, cannellini beans, and navy beans.

To reduce chances of causing colic to your breastfeeding baby soak or sprout them overnight.

Drain and discard the water and give them another wash before cooking. This makes them easier on the digestive system.

Healthy smoothie

Alcohol

Alcohol is generally not recommended for breastfeeding moms. It really is one of the common sense foods not to eat when breastfeeding.

The alcohol content in breast milk is at its highest between 30 to 90 minutes after your last glass.

It will take two to three hours for one drink to be completely cleared out of your system.

If you absolutely have to take a glass or two of alcohol, express and store the breast milk. The baby can be bottle-fed before the alcohol clears from your body.

There will be alcohol in your breast milk as long as there is alcohol in your blood.

Wheat

Healthy eating enthusiasts have advised against consuming wheat in the recent past.

Wheat contains gluten which has minimal nutritional value and causes reactions among many people.

The gluten is also responsible for causing constipation and gas which ends up manifesting in your child as colic.

Get healthier alternatives for wheat such as oats and corn flour.

Cruciferous vegetables

Vegetables are as essential for the breastfeeding mother as they are to all of us. The exception is cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels, and turnips.

Because they are very high in fiber they bypass digestion and end up getting fermented.

Gas is produced which leads to bloating in the mother and colic in the breastfeeding baby.

SEE ALSO: What Is Power Pumping And Does It Increase Breast Milk Supply?

Boiling them makes digestion easier and reduces the chances of producing lots of gas.

Alternative vegetables that can be consumed include spinach, sweet potatoes, zucchini, and cucumbers.

Breastfeeding Diet For Colicky Baby

To manage diet-related colic, you should keep a log of the foods consumed on the days when the baby was having a bout of colic fussiness.

Have a record that’s detailed to the last spoon you consumed.

Once you have established what the suspect items are, eliminate them from your menu one at a time.

If you eliminate a certain food from your diet, get a healthier and acceptable replacement.

Stay away from the food item for two weeks and then re-introduce it again in small doses. If the colic returns, do away with it completely.

Increase your intake of foods that are known to aid digestion and produce little gas.

Drinking plenty of water is good for you and your baby. It keeps you hydrated and reduces the amount of gas in your stomach.

Water will also prevent constipation and increase your milk supply. Can’t stand water? You can try body armor drink  or coconut water. 

Eat plenty of fruits such as apples, pears, bananas and papaya.

Vegetables such as carrots, asparagus, zucchini and pumpkin are also very good at keeping the gas at bay.

Incorporate healthy food items such as mushrooms and pumpkins.

Herbal teas such as chamomile, dandelion and cardamom will be beneficial in reducing colic symptoms.

Conclusion

A breastfeeding mom’s diet doesn’t have to bland. Make a chart of the foods not to eat when breastfeeding and then source for the best alternatives.

If your choices seem limited, play with it and make it colourful. You can prepare salads and smoothies with your fruits and vegetables.

Toss in some healthy seeds such as fenugreek seeds in your meals. This will make your food more appealing and boost your milk production in the process.

Infancy flies by fast, taking colic with it. Before you know it, you’ll be having broccoli fights with your not-so-little-anymore baby.

There isn’t a magic wand to wave over colic to make it go away. But we try.

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