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diet and normalising bf..?

(40 Posts)
squizita Sun 07-Dec-14 09:06:47

Just from forums and talking to friends, I wonder if the nhs needs to emphasise that breastfeeding is NOT like pregnancy in that you can eat what you like and have (small) drinks.
There do seem to be still these myths about dairy, cabbage, coffee ... of course some cut them out but everyone doesn't have to.
I know friends who tried but "wanted to eat cheese and wine" again so quit early. No one told them the rules for pregnancy are different.

I often come across it in blogs (eg one today bemoaning a teetotal Xmas as her toddler still bfs once a day).

OK I sound a glutton but if it were true it would put me off! I have a small beer or glass of wine with my dinner and eat what I like. I even got someone query it once - I snapped "I'm not PREGNANT it's a baby belly" grin

Anyway with this "tell women what to do" culture it would be nice to ensure people knew...

NotQuiteCockney Sun 07-Dec-14 09:12:27

The drinking thing is tricky.

Evidence shows that, actually, as long as you are sober enough to hold a baby safely, then you are fine to breastfeed. The alcohol limit for breastfeeding is a great deal higher than the limit for driving. The BfN leaflet says that if you throw up or pass out, then you shouldn't breastfeed until the next morning.

But the NHS is nervous about handing out that information, because they don't trust mothers to actually track units, to actually be careful. Which is probably fair for a very small percentage of mums, and massively unfair on everyone else. They say [url=http://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/958.aspx?CategoryID=54&SubCategoryID=135#close]this[/url] - they don't say mums need to be teetotal, but they do talk about waiting a couple of hours between having a drink and breastfeeding.

And yeah, there just is no point to any food restrictions. Well, there's a limit on how much oily fish you can have, because of mercury poisoning, but that's probably fair for everyone.

squizita Sun 07-Dec-14 09:21:02

Yeah I find this idea were all either idiots or slurring desperate housewives on the gin a bit tiresome! My nhs midwife actually said "one or two drinks with a meal is fine" so not even the nhs staff are that cautious.

But the amount of obsessing over sushi (bar oily fish it's fine), dairy (lactose intolerance is a medical condition - if your kid has it ffs get it diagnosed don't just self treat! And it's not common so why avoid dairy on the off chance).
Honestly if it were true it would have put me right off.

NotQuiteCockney Sun 07-Dec-14 09:25:02

Sushi is an ideal breastfeeding food. (Oily fish is fine - just not more than twice a week!) If you're nervous, you might have just gone nine months without it. It's easy to eat one-handed, and cold, so it's ideal to eat while breastfeeding - you can hold the baby with one hand, eat with the other, and if you drop some on the baby, no harm, no foul.

littleducks Sun 07-Dec-14 09:31:59

While I generally agree with you On confused about your comment about dairy. DS appears to have a dairy intolerance of some kind. He was always a fussy baby but it became very clear at weaning. I just don't give him dairy. I discussed it vaguely with HV at weigh in but haven't got a formal diagnosis. I'm hoping he will outgrow it and now at one we are staying to do a milk ladder and gently introduce it. But I didn't need to see a Dr because I was bfing, if I hadn't been I would have needed to be pre scribed formula. But the benefit of bfing was that he has my dairy free milk and the ooccsssionl beaker of plus one soya milk.

squizita Sun 07-Dec-14 10:22:13

Little I'm talking about people cutting dairy from their own diet because they're breastfeeding and their baby is windy. Not giving the baby milk post weaning.
Calcium and minerals are pretty important post partum and I know peers who have quit it off their own back - almost as the 'done thing' for any wind or normal spit up -with no advice about what else they should eat to balance their diet.

littleducks Sun 07-Dec-14 10:28:20

Ah in that case I disagree. I was fobbed of with the 'what you eat doesn't affect your milk.' if I had cut out dairy from my diet it would have really improved first 6 months for ds. I was told it was reflux. It was obvious at weaning when he would vomit up cows milk.

I think NHS staff don't fully understand breastfeeding!

Artandco Sun 07-Dec-14 10:33:38

Nope don't agree there. If I ate kiwi ds1 would always have a screaming fit and stomach cramps just from breasfeeding. So I stopped eating and he was fine. Once on solids I have him some kiwi again and he was up with stomach pains again and turns out he is intolorent to it.

So what you eat/ drink does affect what's in the milk

NotQuiteCockney Sun 07-Dec-14 11:24:06

It's certainly the case that some mums run into problems with what they eat affecting their babies - but this isn't the case for most mums, by any stretch of the imagination.

squizita Sun 07-Dec-14 11:27:11

hmm in which case hcp need training.
What you're describing is completely different from my original point. Or are you saying no one who breastfeeds should eat dairy, fish, cabbage, wine? Which would be disagreeing with the actual point I was making.

In a small proportion of cases a baby will get ill - I was NOT saying this never happens ... re reading the original post I maintain this us pretty clear. In which case some mums will cut out dairy. I do maintain this should be done with the correct support: cutting out a food group post partum means it needs to be replaced. Badly trained hcp are a different issue to this, to do with support.

Women simply should not be cutting out random stuff from their diet because "it's the done thing". And I absolutely maintain that cutting out foods without advice (from a supportive expert) is not ideal. Funding/training for such support is another issue.
I am not saying problems do not occur in some cases AT ALL ... I'm talking about the idea there are loads of rules for all women.

An analogy would be that I have to take aspirin in pregnancy: I also had useless hcp who said my losses were "one of those things" till I got an expert. If many women were randomly popping aspirin and someone said "it should only be taken if needed" I wouldn't disagree with their point. They're not saying it never happens, just that it's not the rule for everyone.

What you eat and drink does end up in your milk but for the majority of women this doesn't affect the baby yet there is an idea that everyone needs to avoid loads of foods BFIng regardless of this.
It puts people off BFIng.
That is the problem.

squizita Sun 07-Dec-14 11:31:39

Little yes sadly nhs staff are badly trained. Either telling women without issues TO cut things out (delaying proper bf help) or fobbing off cases like yours.

But to me it doesn't mean everyone cut out milk just in case!

However I've heard people go dairy free when their baby is FINE just in case! Which is silly.

Osteoporosis is a risk for women, so if they need to cut dairy support is needed.

Imeg Mon 08-Dec-14 12:03:55

I think it's very unlikely that nutritional support would be available to people changing their diet while breastfeeding, even if it was sought - I had some digestive issues when baby was 4 months old and doctor told me to cut out wheat and dairy until I improved. After several weeks when I was still having a very restricted diet and struggling to get enough calories in I asked the doctor if there was anyone I could get some advice from about what to eat for getting the right calories, vitamins etc for breastfeeding, and she said no because it would take months to get referred to a nutritionist, by which time the baby would have been well on the way to weaning and I would be better anyway. She more or less said I just needed to muddle along on my own.

squizita Mon 08-Dec-14 12:57:53

That's awful imeg ... I had the same when referred for something when pregnant. Came through after my overdue baby was here!!
Did they ever find out which it was, wheat, dairy or both?

TarkaTheOtter Mon 08-Dec-14 13:03:05

I think "you need a healthy diet" is the latest meme used by formula companies to undermine bfing too. I read a weaning pamphlet from Hipp that had a completely unnecessary non sequitur about how breast milk is best and important it was to eat healthy whilst breastfeeding AND whilst pregnant if you were thinking about breastfeeding. There was absolutely nothing else about milk feeding in the leaflet so I imagine the purpose of the paragraph was to encourage the idea that unless your diet is perfect you should ff.

squizita Mon 08-Dec-14 13:22:35

Exactly Tarka!
But sadly some - not all- people who do bf seem to perpetuate it a bit too. Including mw and gp who say "you can't eat broccoli /spices..." to everyone.
I've been told not to drink milk, coffee, eat broccoli, blue cheese, cured meats, garlic, chilli ... All by "hearsay" not bf leaflets.
And threads on here about can you drink
... always an expert says it's ok, but another post will be judged or have out of date advice.

The stereotype seems to come from two polar opposites: formula "don't even try it it's too hard" at one end and the image of perfect parents for whom organic perfect diet is the norm (and intrinsic to bf and attachment parenting) at the other.

Breastfeeding is clean and healthy - but not sterile and perfect!

feekerry Mon 08-Dec-14 20:40:09

Hmm. This does annoy me. I was in a cafe recently and a girl ordered a coffee, but asked for decaf as she said she was bf her baby. She then asked for a sandwich but could they leave x,y,z out, as she was bf.
My friend said she didn't bf past 4m as she found her diet too restrictive!!
Personally no one has ever said anything to me about what I should
Or shouldn't eat or drink whilst bf but I have very little to do with hcp etc.
My view is its been done for years, by woman all over the world. There is no need to restrict what you eat/drink or do!
I understand in some cases it may be needed but as I fed my ds for 15m and still feeding ds at 10m it has to fit in with my life style.
I eat and drink (alcohol etc) as I would pre pregnancy.

HotMommy Tue 09-Dec-14 07:54:55

There isn't any reason that everyone should limit their diet while bf, but it us certainly true that everything you eat is passed through to baby and there are some foods that have a tendency to aggravate them. Dairy, eggs and sone fruits are high offenders. Both my 2 year old and 6 week old have been very sensitive to dairy and egg causing them to projectile vomit after feeds (not your normal spit up by any account), be very fussy and have eczema. My Cutting out dairy and egg has completely sorted these things out. Food allergies are on the rise in children and its more and more common. My 2 yr old has confirmed allergies but its not possible to test a young baby accurately. Unfortunately GPs and health visitors are very uninformed and it has been pretty much up to me to self diagnose and treat. My 2 year old was referred to a pediatric dietician and allergy paediatrician but not until she was 1 year old. Prior to that I was given all sorts of bad advice. If baby is extremely fussy or vomiting then mum should by all means try cutting out certain foods to see if it helps - the alternative is having a miserable bub or having to get various prescriptions for reflux or hypoallergenic formula. And unfortunately those mums are going to find better advice on the Internet and from friends than from the medical community when it comes to breastfeeding. I'm not sure why the original poster felt the need to write their post but I thought I would weigh in with my experience.

weebairn Tue 09-Dec-14 08:33:48

I also feel it is pushing the myth that you have to be perfect/ a martyr to breastfeed, and deliberately putting people off,or putting people off bf long term at least.

I've had people say to me, I just couldn't imagine giving up wine and coffee for 2 years after pregnancy.

I've never given up anything while bf, for what it's worth. Well I don't get drunk, but I wouldn't get drunk when in charge of a baby anyway.

weebairn Tue 09-Dec-14 08:35:11

I've had two fairly chilled out babies - well not excessively fussy at least. All babies are fussy sometimes and it's tempting to think it's because of something you've eaten. Of course if it's extreme and persistent it's worth investigating.

squizita Tue 09-Dec-14 09:19:38

Hotmommy I have explained several times: _I am not saying food intolerance doesn't exist and that some babies react: I am talking about THE FACT MANY WOMEN CHOMPED NOT TO BREASTFEEDING OR SHORTEN IT BECAUSE THEY THINK EVERYONE NEEDS A SPECIAL DIET LIKE PREGNANCY.

Nowhere have I said allergies don't exist.

I think you've projected a bit here: surely you agree that women shouldn't be daunted by breastfeeding?

squizita Tue 09-Dec-14 09:28:05

And as for "why" ... as many PP have said they were advised to drop coffee, alcohol etc by well meaning people.
This well meaning missadvice is impacting on the take up of breastfeeding : that is WHY it's worth discussing.

Again, I'm not saying allergies don't exist, but that they are the exception not the norm.
Also- your medical issue was clear with projectile vomitting. You must have seen threads here where people are overhauling their diets based on a newborn burp or one days green poo. That is the flips ide.
I used the Internet myself to overcome woeful misunderstanding about recurrent miscarriage but would make the same point ... There are women out there popping aspirin "just in case" and that concerns me. If I saw a thread about that on pregnancy I would agree, even as one if the minority with a genuine problem, that it's not advisable to do just in case!

TheEagle Tue 09-Dec-14 09:34:53

it is certainly true that everything you eat is passed through to baby

That statement is certainly not true. Breastmilk is made from your blood, not from the contents of your stomach.

So certain proteins (like cow's milk protein) and other things that pass into your blood such as caffeine and alcohol enter your breastmilk in small amounts.

Some babies are fussy because they're babies and some babies are fussy because they have allergies/intolerances. Only you can determine that by observing how your baby responds to what you eat and drink.

I was convinced my DS was allergic to everything I ate but he isn't. He was just a small person trying to figure out his place in the world!

I completely agree with the OP, there's far too much pressure on BF mums to have a perfect diet which of course they absolutely don't need. No doubt you'll feel better if you eat healthily but it doesn't mean you'll make "poorer quality" breastmilk if you don't.

As for alcohol, if you're unable to stand up or throwing up because of the amount you drank well you shouldn't be in control of a baby anyway no matter how you feed them. I didn't drink for the first few months because it just exacerbated the tiredness. But after DS slept a bit better, I did enjoy the occasional glass of vino.

I sound very ranty (blame the pregnancy hormones) and I don't mean to, I just get so irritated that people think (like someone said above) that you have to martyr yourself to breastfeed.

Best advice I think is to watch your baby and get to know them.

squizita Tue 09-Dec-14 09:46:53

Weebairn exactly! Got told 3 or 4 times "another year without coffee" Erm you're allowed a cup or so even pregnant but then went to nct and they offered me tea and coffee ... The breastfeeding expert no less did! grin
We know people don't try in case their boobs sag (another myth - I was warned by a ff mate it happens anyway! grin Joys of motherhood) so equally shallow reasons like the odd starbucks or glass of wine might affect things.

I am quite shallow. I pump and stash milk so dh can feed her both for bonding and a once monthly couple of hours "out" eating and drinking fine wine beer with my mum or a mate. Hardly wild but people do raise eyebrows because I bf and do that ... apparently that's ff behaviour.
It's that image thar might put women off. That you have to give up more than a ff woman and be an earth mother ... which just isn't true. Particularly younger mums daunted by the change in lifestyle.
They might find they're the ultimate perfect parent once baby's there ... but by then they won't have any milk.
Whereas if they TRY - because it's normal- and then decide based on actual life circumstances that's different. They might change to ff and fair play - but bf won't have been mis-sold as another year of pregnancy.

HotMommy Tue 09-Dec-14 14:50:05

Hi Eagle - not trying to start an argument - I'm a big supporter of bf and of course women shouldn't be put off of it. I also enjoy my caffeine and wine! I wrote my post on the early morning hours with baby bf in one arm and phone in the other, perhaps half dreaming of eating some of the gorgeous cheese my husband still buys even though i cant have it (well, baby cant). My point is that if your baby is very fussy, has some sort of rash or is spitting up more than you think is normal, you will most likely be fobbed off by the medical community and by most self proclaimed breastfeeding experts (ie anyone who has has a child...)..i was given a lot of very poor, uninformed, unhelpful and downright patronising advice about breastfeeding and yet nobody in the medical community suggested modifying my diet at any point (rather they pushed various drugs and formula). In the end it was cutting out certain foods that made a drastic improvement. Dairy, caffeine and some other foods are well known to cause issues with a lot of babies - i personally think its a good idea to try modifying your diet before giving a baby gaviscon or giving a hypoallergenic formula if you think bub is behaving abnormally. If it doesn't help then its no harm done. Like everyone heard/seen all of the outdated advice about banning alcohol and caffeine and I always laugh at the suggestion that you can just 'pump and dump', so obviously there is just a huge amount of misinformation out there about breastfeeding in general.

weebairn Tue 09-Dec-14 16:08:49

I am also quite shallow squiz grin

I don't express just cause I hate expressing, not to mention all the faffing about with bottles/sterilising, but I am fucking delighted that my 10 week old baby feeds very quickly and likes cuddles from everyone not just me and is now going 2-4 hours between feeds sometimes. So if I tank her up with milk and strap her to someone else in a sling which she loves, I can pop out to do some exercise or get a haircut or go to the pub next door for a couple of hours or whatever. Brilliant!

Some babies feed for longer or more frequently or slower, so it's not always the case at this age. I am very happy about it though ! smile

I figure my boyfriend sitting up with her in the evening while I get some early sleep in the bank is bonding enough , haha. I always felt kinda funny seeing him with a bottle actually. (with my first daughter I expressed some but grew to dislike doing it) He is about as bonded to my toddler as it's possible for anyone to be, he has been primary parent since I went back to work and got pregnant again really, day and night. I still bf her for a long time (20 months).

And I think its great that you've found this freedom so early on, cause it only gets easier and easier with bf, I found.

Hotmommy sympathies - my SIL went through a very similar and lengthy process with her daughter who is dairy and egg intolerant. I don't think you're disagreeing with the original point, though. There's basically so little expert knowledge out there about bf.

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