If pregnancy (and the heartburn that often accompanies it) kept you from enjoying spicy foods, and you are now avoiding them because of breastfeeding, experts say you can indulge! In fact, spicy foods, which do transmit through breastmilk, can develop and mature your baby’s pallet to prepare them better for solid foods. Best of all, the experts say spicy foods do not cause irritability in infants.
“Certain cultures consume an abundance of spicy foods or foods with strong herbs, and spices and women have successfully breastfed for generations,’” Jennifer Wider, medical advisor for the Society for Women’s Health Research, told Daily Mail Online.
However, it is more than just spicy foods that nursing mothers should eat. Instead, experts advise moms to eat a variety of foods while nursing– from bitter and citrusy to spicy and sweet.
“Breast-fed babies are generally easier to feed later because they’ve had this kind of variety experience of different flavors from their very first stages of life, whereas a formula-fed baby has a uniform experience,” Lucy Cooke, a senior research associate at University College London, told the New York Times. “The absolute key thing is repeated exposure to a variety of different flavors as soon as you can possibly manage; that is a great thing for food acceptance.”
Of course, a well-balanced diet, full of high-quality proteins (lean chicken, fish, and lentils), grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables is the most important concern here. But there should be a lot less concern over what you should avoid while breastfeeding.
Also, experts say that the foods you think are triggering your breastfed baby could be totally off. Mothers often assume it is the food that they ate last that gives their baby gas, colic, or other intestinal issues. However, the experts say that breastmilk simply isn’t made that way.
Your body digests the nutrients, just like it would normally. Those nutrients are then converted into small particles that are absorbed into your bloodstream to make milk. On average, it takes the body anywhere from an hour to 24 hours to do this – and there is no real science to it. Instead, factors like metabolism, body chemistry, and the food that was eaten may determine how quickly the food is converted into milk.
Now, if you do notice that your baby is having issues, experts say you can create a food diary to pin down where the issue may be. Look for patterns in food consumption and problems with your baby. Otherwise, you should be good to consume almost any healthy food that your heart desires (within reason, of course).