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6 Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding (and 5 You Should Love)

Taking care of yourself is a special kind of challenge when nursing a newborn. But eating right is crucial! Here’s a simple list of foods to avoid while breastfeeding—and foods to love.

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Tuna steak on fettuccineTaste of Home

Avoid: High-Mercury Fish

One food that you absolutely want to steer clear of while breastfeeding is fish high in mercury like tuna, swordfish and mackerel. Even in small amounts, mercury toxins can pass through breast milk to your baby and affect their brain and nervous system. Here’s a handy chart from the FDA on which fish are best to eat and which are best to avoid.

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Composition with tasty chili sauce in bowl on tableAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Avoid: Spicy Foods

Spicy foods including hot peppers, garlic and curries may be wise to limit or avoid while nursing. While you might be able to handle the heat, these foods can sometimes give your baby an upset tummy—or change the flavor of your milk and lead to difficulty latching.

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Bulletproof coffee, blended with organic butter and MCT coconut oilOksana Mizina/Shutterstock

Limit: Caffeine

It’s tempting to mainline anything containing caffeine after a long pregnancy when you’re up all night with a hungry baby. But too much caffeine can be dehydrating—and counterproductive when your body requires lots of fluids to make milk. Too much caffeine may even affect baby’s mood and sleep schedule. If you really need the pick-me-up, start with a small dose of good coffee here and there instead of going hog wild with the joe.

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White wine pouring into glasses, closeupAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Limit: Alcohol

Be cautious with how much and how often you drink alcohol when breastfeeding. Not only is alcohol dehydrating, but small amounts can pass through your milk to your baby. While research on how much alcohol passes into breast milk is mixed, it’s best to avoid drinking excessively or frequently while nursing. Here are some great non-alcoholic party drinks to try instead.

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Green fresh mint on the wooden tableOxana Denezhkina/Shutterstock

Limit: Peppermint, Parsley & Sage

Certain herbs including peppermint, parsley and sage have been said to reduce milk supply in some women. Most women probably don’t eat enough of these herbs to notice a difference, but if you do, or if you’re having trouble with your milk supply, toning down your intake could be helpful.

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cruciferous vegetablesSewCream/Shutterstock

Limit: Cruciferous Veggies

If you have a gassy baby, you might want to look at how often you’re eating cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and certain types of beans. Yes, they’re so totally healthy but also famous culprits when it comes to giving you—and perhaps your nursing baby—gas.

Here are some surprising foods that can also cause excess gas.

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Dry rolled oat flakes oatmeal on old wooden tableRegreto/Shutterstock

Love: Oats

Oats have been shown to help promote prolactin production, a hormone that assists your body in making milk. Oats are also a great source of fiber, helping you stay fuller longer—which can be huge when finding a moment to eat is challenging. Just make one of our favorite oatmeal recipes.

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Simple asian salmonTaste of Home

Love: Salmon

While those high-mercury fish are a no-no, you can enjoy other types of fish, like salmon, up to twice per week. Salmon is a great choice as it’s full of vitamin D and B12, which can be helpful in treating postpartum depression, as well as omega 3s like DHA, which is beneficial for your baby’s nervous system development. Start with these great salmon recipes!

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avocado on a dark wood background. tinting. selective focus; Shutterstock ID 263066309; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): Taste of HomeNataliya Arzamasova/Shutterstock

Love: Avocado

Avocados, full of healthy fats and fiber, are a great addition to your diet while breastfeeding. The fat in avocados help you and your baby absorb fat-soluble vitamins and can also be beneficial to your baby’s developing brain health. Here are some delicious recipes to try using avocados while baby’s napping.

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Bowls with juicy dates on a branch and dried apricots on a gray-blue background.DROBOT VIKTORIIA/Shutterstock

Love: Apricots and Dates

Apricots and dates are a great addition to your diet when nursing. Full of vitamin C, they help keep you and your baby’s immune system strong. These sweet treats also promote prolactin production to keep the milk flowing. Try these yummy apricot recipes for your sweet or savory fix.

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Four wooden spoons with seeds and nuts on the white tableRoma Black/Shutterstock

Love: Nuts and Seeds

Not only are nuts and seeds easy to grab and snack on while you’re busy with your little one, but they are packed with healthy fats and fiber to help you stay fuller longer. They can also help keep milk your production up. Here are 8 healthy ways to include more nuts and seeds in your diet.

Christina Manian, RDN
Christina Manian is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist based out of Boulder, Colorado. Hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, she has been involved with the nutrition departments of Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston Medical Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Mass General Hospital. She completed her nutrition education at the Mayo Clinic with a focus on medical nutrition therapy and most recently practiced clinical nutrition at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. While her background has largely been in the clinical setting, Christina embraces and is shifting her focus towards wellness nutrition as the backbone to optimum health.

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