It’s Katie here, your Registered Holistic Nutritionist and CAHN-Pro Board Director for British Columbia. I did a LIVE talk with Anna from Little Winks Sleep where we answered common questions about your breastfeeding diet, starting solids, and sleep. You can find a link to that video here.
Below are some of the points that I covered:
HOW MUCH CAFFEINE CAN I DRINK WHILE BREASTFEEDING?
While A.C.O.G. has declared that drinking 200mg / day or less of caffeine is okay to drink while nursing, other studies have concluded that caffeine consumption can affect infants 0-3 months.
The molecular breakdown of caffeine is small enough to enter breast milk and the half life of caffeine for adults is approximately 4.9 hours. The half-life of caffeine for an infant who is between 0-3 months old is 97.5 hours. That’s over a 4 day high for your baby. Caffeine intake while nursing didn’t seem to affect the sleep of babies 3-6 months old.
While I condone coffee after giving birth, just be sure to keep your limits below 200mg (see what that is in Starbucks drinks here), and monitor your baby for any sleep troubles so you can adjust your caffeine intake accordingly.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GAGGING & CHOKING?
Gagging is a natural reflex a baby has while they learn how to eat while choking is a total obstruction of their airway. Developing one’s gag reflex upon starting solids is a normal and preventative measure the body takes so that it doesn’t choke later on.
Gagging will be a choking-like motion of a baby with its mouth open, possibly eyes closed and watering, and making a gagging sound. Choking, however, is a total obstruction of your child’s airway and your baby likely won’t make any sound at all except perhaps a high pitched wheezing sound. If this happens, call for help immediately and practise baby-safe First Aid.
The Baby Led Weaning method (which is offering your baby soft solid strips of food) actually prevents choking because it offers your baby soft foods that are thin so they don’t pose a choking hazard. It also teaches your child to eat in the following steps: 1. Chew the food and 2. Swallow the food. On the other hand, the Traditional Weaning Method (which is offering your baby blended purees) skips step 1 and only teaches your child to swallow. Later on, when a child is eating a variety of different foods, this habit of swallowing first could cause a child to be more susceptible to choking. You can learn more about the different weaning methods by purchasing my Starting Solids guide here.
WHAT FOODS WILL HELP ME CREATE MORE MILK?
Foods that have been known to help the production of breast milk are called “lactogenic foods” or “galactagogues”.
As a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, it is optimal that I suggest the food based off of the reason you may not be producing a sufficient supply. Learn more on my blog post titled: “5 Tips to Encourage Breastfeeding Holistically” which includes the possibility of chiropractic adjustment that could be blocking your prolactin’s journey! For now, I will include my top food tips...
In a nutshell, known foods are:
-Fenugreek seed (best as a tea). This herb is one of the oldest medicinal plants in recorded history and has been widely used as a galactogogue in India and the Middle East for generations.
-barley and oats are extremely high in beta-glucan (a polysaccharide) which has been shown to promote the release of prolactin (a hormone necessary for milk production).
-Moringa is plant from the horseradish family and its leaves have incredible nourishing qualities. They contain more than 4x the vitamin A found in carrots, nearly 7x the vitamin C found in oranges, it is a high source of protein, B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and potassium. Throughout the Philippines and in India, Moringa soup is fed to pregnant and nursing mothers to prevent any malnutrition.
250mg of Moringa tea or powder once or twice daily has been clinically proven to increase breast milk supply by day 7.
-Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that also goes by the name Indian Ginseng and is one of the few stress-reducing adaptogenic herbs that is safe for both pregnancy and breastfeeding! If a mother is experiencing stress, her stress hormones may interrupt her happy hormones, which are needed for the production of her milk producing hormones. If the cause of a low breast milk supply is because of stress, then Ashwagandha is a great solution! Unfortunately the powdered herb is bitter and is difficult to add to drinks or smoothies (I have tried tirelessly). Purica has made a drink mix similar to hot cocoa or a mocha and is delicious! I can personally attest that this drink is mood regulating (working mom to two littles over here!) and is delicious as well!
WHAT FOODS DECREASE MILK SUPPLY?
A few reasons someone would want to decrease their milk supply is in the case of:
-a child who is born to a surrogate mother who won’t be breastfeeding.
-a woman who won’t be breastfeeding.
-a woman who has a painful oversupply, in which, pumping will only signal the body to produce more (the body doesn’t know her milk expression is a machine, not a child).
Here are some foods that will prevent an optimal breast milk supply and should be considered by women who do not wish to inadvertently lower their own supply:
-large amounts of peppermint
-large amounts of sage
-large amounts of parsley
-alcohol (because it is a neuro-suppressant which interrupts milk production).
-caffeine (because it is a diuretic and hydration is essential to breast milk production).
IS COD LIVER OIL SAFE TO INTRODUCE BEFORE SOLIDS?
In short, yes. Cod liver oil is rich in vitamin A and the active form of vitamin D for infants. In fact before the second world war it was common practise to offer cod liver oil to a baby as young as 3 weeks old. Studies have accounted that those from that era grew old in great health despite nutritionally deficient times, of course there are many factors to consider.
If you do choose to introduce cod liver oil, offer ¼ tsp daily. Fish oils are a great source of omega 3’s that are easily absorbed and used by the body. Make SURE you obtain oils from fresh fish, not farmed, and that have not been exposed to high-heat production. I have personally contacted those at Sealicious and confirmed that their fish oils are high quality and wild.