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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Forbidden Fruit Tastes the Sweetest: Which Fruits to Avoid during Breastfeeding

I’ve written about breastfeeding and diet before, but it remains a hot topic. Most of the questions and search terms on my breastfeeding blogs concern ‘forbidden’ foods, and fruit seems to be one of the most maligned ones. So, which fruits should you avoid during breastfeeding? The not-so-guilty secret is that there are NO fruits that should be avoided while you’re nursing. Great news, isn’t it? La Leche League International says it best in their maxim about diet: Eat a wide variety of foods, as close to their natural state as possible – everything in moderation. Sure, some babies will be sensitive to some foods, but there is no universal list of culprits that all nursing moms should avoid. No food (or fruit) causes cramps in all (or even most) babies. It’s sad, but it is nevertheless true: breastfeeding tends to get a bad rap in our society. Even common newborn niggles (in Mom and Baby) are blamed on breastfeeding. “Shame, are you exhausted? Blue? Must be the breastfeeding. Why don’t you put Baby on the bottle so you can rest and someone else can feed him?” Or: “Oh, that rash on Baby’s cheeks? It’s caused by acidic foods, you know. What did you have? Tomatoes? Oranges?” And the most common one: “Is your baby crampy? Gassy? It’s something you ate, Mom. Did you have any gas-forming veggies like broccoli or cabbage? Fruit also causes cramps, you know …” Well-meant as this advice is, it is not based on scientific evidence. ALL babies get cramps sometimes. Their digestive systems are still immature and very seldom your diet is to blame. Think about it: for the largest chunk of human history, our ancestors were hunter gatherers. What did breastfeeding moms eat? Exactly the same food as everyone else in the tribe; most of the time they didn’t have the luxury of choice. During lean times the only available food might have been a certain root or fruit, and they had loads of that, simply because it was the only option. They certainly didn’t have specially formulated breastfeeding shakes produced by the manufacturers of artificial baby milk ;). Nope, human babies have survived (and even thrived) on breastmilk, despite what their moms ate or did not eat. karoo (7)_edited-2Honestly, you can eat ANY fruits, as long as you do so in moderation. Limit your intake of fruit juice, as you can drink the juice of many more oranges than you’d be able to eat. This excessive intake might bother Baby. Don’t worry about ‘acidic’ fruits. The body’s pH level is kept within tight limits, and this applies to your milk too. A tomato or orange isn’t very likely to upset this system. Most babies give you a little preview of coming attractions (read ‘teenage acne’) around two weeks of age. This is due to the sudden withdrawal of your hormones, not to ‘acidic’ fruits. Enjoy your fruits and veggies – it’s good for you! Please don’t confine yourself to a diet of rice, meat and potatoes. We’re lucky to have access to a more varied diet than our hunting-gathering ancestors. Be grateful for this privilege and try not to see breastfeeding as a sacrifice you have to make. Mother Nature intended it to be fun and relaxing – as the mood-enhancing qualities of the breastfeeding hormones (prolactin and oxytocin) attest. Enjoy every moment of breastfeeding and don’t let uninformed advisors use it as a scapegoat for perfectly normal niggles. Your breastmilk remains the single biggest gift you will ever give your child.

 

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