Foods To Avoid When Breastfeeding

Foods To Avoid When Breastfeeding

Many women are surprised to learn that there is a substantial list of 'foods to avoid' when pregnant. Who knew bean shoots were a no-no? And that you'd have to go nine long months without sushi? Avoiding foods while pregnant is just one of the things we do to protect our growing bubs.

While pregnant we also need to avoid certain exercises, avoid sleeping on our backs or tummies, and limit our coffee intake. The protectiveness is present right from the beginning, so it makes sense that our instinct to protect becomes heightened when our little ones finally arrive.

It's common for breastfeeding women to wonder if there are foods they need to avoid when breastfeeding. Even though much of what we consume passes through our breastmilk onto our baby, there actually isn't a list of foods to avoid during breastfeeding. Instead, some foods should be limited.

Foods to Limit While Breastfeeding

1. Caffeine

Unfortunately, just like when you were pregnant, you need to limit caffeine intake when breastfeeding. This feels like a cruel joke when you're battling sleep deprivation and dealing with the challenges of the newborn stage. But just as the 'good' vitamins and nutrients pass through our breastmilk, so does caffeine.

The silver lining is that you don't need to avoid it. Just be mindful to moderate your intake. For example, limit your coffee intake to two cups per day. And, it's best to consume your coffee while you're feeding or just after a feed. This way, the caffeine will be mostly metabolised before the next feed, and little will pass through your breastmilk.

If you've just had a coffee and bubs needs to feed, there's no need to hold off. It's just a rule of thumb that's good to follow most of the time.

2. Alcohol

Choosing not to drink any alcohol when you are breastfeeding is safest for the health and development of your baby. If you do drink alcohol there are some precautions to follow.

You've probably guessed that alcohol also passes through your bloodstream and into your breastmilk. So, the timing of your drink is important. One standard alcoholic beverage takes around two hours to metabolise and leave your bloodstream. So having a drink immediately after you feed is the safest time.

The other option is to express enough milk to enable you to skip a feed. So, when your little one is ready, they can have the unaffected milk that you expressed before your drink, and you can 'pump and dump' the milk you produce after having a drink. It's essential to understand that 'pumping and dumping' doesn't speed up the removal of the alcohol from your bloodstream; it's only necessary to relieve pressure and to prevent blocked ducts or mastitis.

3. Certain Types of Fish

There are plenty of types of fish you can enjoy while breastfeeding. But there a few types that are best avoided or limited, including swordfish, shark, tilefish and mackeral. This is because these types of fish are high in mercury. Too much mercury can have a negative impact on your baby's brain development. So, it's best to stick to safer types of seafood like salmon, tuna, and sardines which are also high in protein and full of healthy fats, which are vital to healthy growth and development in infants.

Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding: Allergens.

There are no foods you need to totally cut out while breastfeeding. However, throughout their breastfeeding journey, a small percentage of mums will find that their little ones are allergic to some foods. And there's no way to figure which foods except through trial and error.

Food allergies are not common. According to the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA), around 98% of the Australian adult population do not have a food allergy and 90-96% of children do not have any food allergies. Of the minority that have food allergies, cow's milk (dairy) is the most common allergen in newborns, followed by soy, gluten, eggs, nuts and fish.

The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP), the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA), and the Australian Dietary Guidelines all state there is no evidence to show that what a woman eats while pregnant or breastfeeding negatively affects the chance of the child developing an allergy, or allergy symptoms.

In fact, many allergists believe that allergies in children are more common when a mother has avoided certain foods throughout her pregnancy and breastfeeding journey.

Breastfeeding expert Dr. Jack Newman advises that eating a varied diet can train your growing baby’s immune system from the start to prevent allergies.

In some cases, babies are born with intolerances or allergies to certain foods. And in these cases, the mother must cut out the food groups entirely to ensure the allergens aren't passing through breastmilk. If you are concerned your baby has a food allergy, seek advice from your Doctor/Paediatrician as soon as possible if you see some kind of adverse reaction in your baby. It is a good idea to start writing down what you eat each day to see if you can find a correlation. Bring this food diary along to show to your Doctor/Paediatrician.

Of course, if you have a history of a particular food allergy, then you need to continue to avoid that food you are allergic to, for your own sake.

The best foods to consume while breastfeeding

Prioritising a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats is essential for both maternal health and infant health during breastfeeding.

Aim to eat as much fresh produce and as many different coloured fruit and vegetables as possible. Post-partum nourishment is super important, so the quicker you can get on track with eating healthily, the better.

To find out the top 10 Foods to Eat While Breastfeeding click here.

We know that prioritising your health and preparing healthy food can be tricky in in the early stages of motherhood. Just surviving each day is often hard enough during this time.

That's where convenient, nutrient-packed options like the In Shape Mummy Health Shake for Breastfeeding Mums come in.

The In Shape Mummy Health Shake for Breastfeeding Mums is a great way to ensure you’re getting your daily essential vitamins and minerals in a quick and easy way.

Each serving of the shake delivers 25% of your daily intake of essential vitamins and minerals, along with a good serving of protein to keep you full and satisfied. Plus, it contains probiotics to support your post-partum recovery.

What sets the In Shape Mummy Health Shake apart is what it doesn't contain. It's free from dairy, soy, gluten, caffeine, and artificial additives, making it suitable for mothers and babies with allergies or intolerances.

So, whether you're struggling to find the time to prepare nutritious meals or looking for an easy way to ensure you're meeting your nutritional needs while breastfeeding, the In Shape Mummy Health Shake has you covered.

Shevi is a qualified nutritionist with a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and food sciences. As mum of a baby and a toddler herself, she is passionate about postnatal-related nutrition. Shevi has worked alongside some of the most famous leaders and celebrities in the fitness industry throughout Australia and the UK.


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 Department of Health (DoH), Submission 78, p. 5.Department of Health (DoH), Submission 78, p. 5.,in%20Australia%20and%20New%20Zealand.

Greer, F.R., S.H. Sicherer, and A.W. Burks, Effects of early nutritional interventions on the development of atopic disease in infants and children: the role of maternal dietary restriction, breastfeeding, timing of introduction of complementary foods, and hydrolyzed formulas. Pediatrics, 2008. 121(1): p. 183-91.

ASCIA. Guidelines: Infant feeding and allergy prevention. ASCIA 2016.

National Health and Medical Research Council. Australian Dietary Guidelines. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council. 2013