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Food For Breastfeeding: Which Foods to Avoid & What Foods to Eat

Why Food Matters for Breastfeeding

The food you choose to eat while breastfeeding can have a huge impact on the quality and quantity of breast milk you produce. But eating is so common, so everyday, that we often forget how important it really is. As moms, and especially new moms, our needs tend to get set aside as we take care of others and sometimes we forget to eat all together! What we eat and drink and when we eat or drink is the major determiner for how much we weigh, how healthy we are and how much energy we have. Food contributes to what diseases we get or avoid and how long we’ll live. Given all that, it’s not much of a surprise that one of the number one queries we get at Lactiful is “Tell Me About Food For Breastfeeding.”

What Food For Breastfeeding Should You Avoid?

In general, any properly prepared food or drink, when enjoyed in moderation, is safe for you and your breastfeeding little one. There are two exceptions to that rule:

  1. When a breastfeeding baby continues to cry after her needs are met (fed, clean diaper, rested, and receiving quality parent time.) In this case the breastfeeding baby may be sensitive or allergic to a food or foods you are eating.
  2. Food that can decrease your breast milk production.

Foods for Breastfeeding That can Cause Sensitivities:

Babies are born with immature digestive systems. It is fairly common that a breastfeeding baby will be sensitive or allergic to a food you are eating for a time. Often times they will outgrow this sensitivity. Here are some foods & drinks that sometimes bother breastfeeding babies:

    Food & drink that contains caffeine: Coffee, tea, chocolate, soda, energy drinks, and “daytime” medicine can contain caffeine that make a breastfeeding baby unhappy. To learn more, read Breastfeeding and Caffeine.

   Dairy: Milk, cheeses, ice cream and even butter, can upset the tummy of a breastfeeding baby.

    Spicy food: Hot sauce, peppers, garlic and other spicy food can cause painful gas in a breastfeeding baby.

     Citrus food like oranges, lemons and grapefruit can lead to diaper rash and discomfort in breastfeeding babies.

If you or your spouse have a blood relative with a food allergy, use caution with that food for breastfeeding. Most common are peanuts and shellfish but be aware of any food allergies that exist in your family tree. Talk with your pediatrician. Some new research suggests that exposing an infant to small amounts of that food through breastfeeding may help to prevent that allergy later in life when the child is exposed directly to the food. But talk with your doctor about what they recommend for your family and that specific food for breastfeeding.

Finally enjoy fish and alcohol in moderation. Fish often contains mercury and you should avoid more than 6 ounces of certain types of fish per week. Avoid more than 2 alcoholic drinks per week and time those drinks for the longest intervals between breastfeeding sessions, usually immediately after baby goes to sleep for the evening. For more information see our article Alcohol and Breastfeeding – All Questions Answered.

What to Do if You Suspect Your Baby May Have a Sensitivity to a Food Through Breastfeeding:

After all of your baby’s needs are met, if your breastfeeding baby is still fussy or upset it could be due to the food you are eating. If one of the above food categories jumps out as something you’ve been eating a lot of, try cutting it out for several days and see how your baby responds. If that food is the culprit, baby’s mood should improve.

However, if she continues to be fussy or if none of the food categories stands out to you, you can try going to an oatmeal-only diet. That’s one way to determine if a food you’re eating is the source of baby’s fussiness – just eliminate everything else! When a type of food is affecting your breastfeeding baby it should clear up quickly on an oatmeal-only diet. If baby is content on an oatmeal-only diet, slowly add back one food type at a time and watch how baby responds. When baby becomes upset you’ll likely have found the cause.

Of course, if your baby is experiencing any symptoms of an allergic reaction to a food for breastfeeding, other than fussiness, you should definitely consult with your doctor or pediatrician.

Foods For Breastfeeding That Can Decrease Your Milk Production:

If milk production is at all a concern for you, there are certain foods you should avoid for breastfeeding because it has been linked to lowering milk production. Please see our article on the specific foods that can lower breast milk production.

Is It True That Breastfeeding Mothers Need More Food For Breastfeeding?

Yes! A breastfeeding mother requires 500 additional calories per day to maintain a healthy milk supply. That’s 200 calories more than a pregnant mother requires!

What is the Best Food For Breastfeeding If You Want To Increase Milk Production?

There are certainly foods that can help increase breast milk production, but first, a word of warning. Even if you eat 6 bowls of oatmeal a day and take all the recommended herbs, your milk supply likely won’t change if your supply problem is caused by an unresolved hormone issue. So be sure to try to identify and resolve the cause of your lower milk supply. We’ve written a helpful series of articles that can point the way. See the 27 causes of low milk supply to get started.

Once you have investigated and started working on solving the cause of your low milk production then it’s time for the three powerful foods for breastfeeding!

The Three Most Powerful Foods for Breastfeeding:

These are the three foods that seem to really help increase milk production. The more of these three you can weave into your diet, the bigger the boost to your milk supply.

  • Oats (oatmeal)

   Eat Oatmeal for breakfast every day. As long as you aren’t using oatmeal to eliminate everything else from your diet, you can feel free to add any flavorings you wish to mix it up. Try cinnamon and apples; peanut butter and raisins; or brown sugar and milk.

   You can add some rolled oats to a bowl of vanilla yogurt with fresh fruit as a snack, or lunch.

  • Brewer’s yeast

   Add 1-2 Tablespoons to a beverage to drink every day.

   Try adding a bit to your baked goods.

   Try blending it into a smoothie.

  • Fenugreek powder

   Search for recipes that use it as a spice. Often Indian food and curry recipes work well with Fenugreek.

   Use it in a spice blend or dry rub.

   Sprinkle a pinch over yogurt, or cooked greens.

   If you can find the leaves, they can be used in salads.

Mom and Baby in Chef's hats, showing Healthy Foods For Breastfeeding
What are Healthy Foods for Breastfeeding?

Other Foods for Breastfeeding:

There are many other foods that are believed to support breastfeeding. They are:

  • Protein: lean meats, chicken, turkey and soy.
  • Nuts: Almonds, almond butter, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds
  • Whole grains: breads, crackers and cereals, whole-wheat waffles & pitas, brown rice
  • Garlic, cinnamon – but be careful with these ones, they can fall into that spicy food category that we talked about above that some babies are sensitive to.
  • Beans
  • Apricots, peaches, carrots
  • Dark leafy greens such as baby spinach or romaine
  • Healthy fats such as in olive oil and ground flaxseed

If you are concerned about low milk production and can plan a menu that maximizes the three power foods for breastfeeding with this list of foods that support breastfeeding, you’ll have uncovered the best food for breastfeeding.

Image of Bottle of Lactiful Supply Max and The Lactiful Method for Increasing Milk Supply
Lactiful Supply Max is Guaranteed to Increase Breastmilk in 14 Days or Your Money Back!

Finally, if you are concerned about your milk supply, try Lactiful Supply Max. It’s guaranteed to increase your milk supply in 14 days, or your money back!

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Baby Crying at the Breast

Baby Crying at the Breast, Is It A Sign Of A Decrease In Milk Supply?

A baby crying at the breast can be deeply upsetting and frustrating for any mom. What should be a blissful event is shattered by the feelings of inadequacy and rejection. I know how heart-wrenching this can be, but take comfort, crying at the breast happens to almost every mom. It happens to moms with normal milk supply, moms with over supply and moms with low milk supply, so it’s not a good indicator of low milk supply. So what’s going on when a baby is crying at the breast?

Babies cry at the breast for usually one of three reasons: frustration with flow, discomfort, or they want something else entirely.

Baby Crying at the Breast Reason #1: Frustration with Flow

    • Delayed flow – Milk usually isn’t ready to squirt into baby’s mouth at the first suck. For most of us, nipple stimulation causes oxytocin to be released and that hormone causes the let-down reflex. This process can take up to a few minutes. Some babies are patient and don’t seem to mind waiting for the flow to start, others are not so patient. Impatient babies want the milk NOW and will complain bitterly if it doesn’t start flowing when they want. If your baby takes a bottle some of the time, they can get used to getting the milk immediately upon sucking, this can cause them to feel frustrated waiting for the let-down to happen. If you have an impatient baby or suspect you might have delayed flow, talk to your baby. Tell him, “It’s okay. The milk is coming. Stick with it.” When he pops off to complain keep encouraging him and put him back on. If baby is regularly frustrated at the beginning of your feedings while waiting for the let-down, you can try doing some manual nipple stimulation, or pumping for a few minutes to get the milk flowing before latching baby. Delayed flow can also happen in the middle of a nursing session when you are between let-downs or when the breast has been mostly emptied. If you suspect this, comfort your baby and encourage him to stay latched. You can try manually stimulating the other breast to help baby trigger your let-down reflex. Try to stay relaxed, this will encourage your let-downs. Lactiful Supply Max has 2 ingredients that help to increase strength, frequency and quickness of let-downs. You can learn more about it here. Lactiful Supply Max - guaranteed to increase milk supply. Image of bottle and booklet The Lactiful Method for Increasing Milk Supply
    • Slow flow – Breasts are never empty. Even after your baby exhausts the milk your breast has stored, your body will continue to make milk and deliver it to your baby while he’s sucking. But the flow of this milk can be very slow compared to the flow of banked-up milk. (Banked-up milk within the breast increases the internal pressure in the breast, which creates faster flow.) When milk is flowing slowly, baby may get frustrated and cry at the breast. After all, sucking is a lot of work and if he’s not being rewarded for that work, he’s going to complain to the manager.Slow milk flow during the first 10 minutes of a nursing session is a symptom of low milk supply. However, slow flow can also result from a poor latch. Poor latching results in poor milk withdrawal, which will cause the body to make less milk. Always ensure a proper latch.
    • Flow preference – This happens when babies are given bottles (either breast milk or formula), especially bottles with nipples faster than size zero or “newborn.” Like all humans, babies enjoy instant gratification. They get that with a bottle – milk flows at the first suck and doesn’t stop until the bottle is empty. It’s amazing! And it’s addictive.A baby who becomes “hooked” on the flow of a bottle, may begin crying at the breast. He doesn’t understand why at the breast there’s no milk flowing at the beginning then there’s flow, but then that slows down for a while, then more flow. It’s frustrating! Baby will arch, be fussy, scream or push at the breast and often a mom will see this as a sure sign that baby isn’t getting enough milk, when really he just wants faster flow. Clever babies will quickly train their mothers to give him a bottle after he “puts in his time” at the breast.It’s worth repeating: A baby will quickly train his mother. In no time, he’ll figure out that if he acts as though he’s not getting any milk at the breast and cries out in hunger after nursing, he’ll get a bottle. The more bottles he gets, the less interested he is in “fighting” the breast for milk flow.
    • Overactive letdowns – Sometimes babies cry at the breast because there’s too much flow. Milk comes so frequently that baby doesn’t get a break to literally catch his breath. (Remember: mom may or may not feel these letdowns.) This is often accompanied by coughing and sputtering. Baby might also pull off for a break and to complain that he feels like he’s drowning.
  • Too much flow – This is similar to overactive letdowns. Too much flow is a result of an over supply of milk. The letdown reflex cycles are normal, but when they happen baby is “drown” in a large release of milk and will often pop off, cough, sputter and cry. Both overactive letdowns, and oversupply are often accompanied by baby having green stools. To correct an over supply of milk, nurse baby on only one breast each feeding. Alternate breasts at each feeding. This will leave milk in the breasts long enough for the body to begin cutting production. Please do this only if baby’s weight gain is good and baby is producing 4 or more sopping wet diapers each day.

Baby Crying at the Breast Reason #2: Discomfort

Babies can feel discomfort while nursing and will cry at the breast to let you know. Sometimes it’s simple like needing to burp or change positions. For the first few months, my second child did not like nursing on the left side – it always made her uncomfortable to lay across my body, maybe it was a muscle imbalance or she needed an adjustment. I don’t know. But I always had to nurse her in the football hold – otherwise she would complain. By four months of age, she had grown out of it.

Sometimes teething can make it painful for baby to nurse and will cry at the breast because they want to nurse but their gums are sensitive and it is painful to breastfeed.

Another possibility is reflux disease. If your baby spits up a lot, he may have reflux. In some cases the reflux is so severe that baby begins to associate the burning in his throat with breastfeeding. He may not want to nurse and will cry at the breast because he knows the discomfort will follow. If you suspect this may be affecting your baby, seek medical advice from a professional. In the meantime, here’s some things to try: Nurse more frequently, but for a shorter time. The smaller the meal, the better. While nursing, keep baby’s head higher than his stomach. Keep baby upright for 25 minutes after every nursing. Burp baby really well and when you lay him down, always make sure it is on a gentle incline with his head higher than the rest of his body.

Baby Crying at the Breast Reason #3: Baby Wants Something Else

Sometimes a baby that’s crying at the breast simply wants to do something other than nurse. My second child would do this around bedtime. The first time it happened, she’d keep popping off the breast and crying. With my struggles with low milk supply, my thoughts immediately jumped to that she wasn’t getting enough milk, so I kept trying to put her on. She kept crying until I finally laid her in her crib, where she sighed, put her arms up over her head and went right to sleep.

Her fussiness was about her feeling really tired and wanting to go to bed! This behavior continued for several weeks and was a great sign to me that she was ready to be laid down for bedtime. So perhaps your baby isn’t uncomfortable or frustrated with milk flow. Perhaps your baby just wants to do something different. Try getting up and walking around and see if baby settles down. If he truly is hungry, he’ll continue to cry and you can try breastfeeding again.


These are the three common causes for a baby crying at the breast. And while it is worrisome and frustrating for the parents, by keeping these causes in mind you’re one step closer to figuring out the reason. Keep at it. You can do it!

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Reglan And Breastfeeding


(Brand names: Reglan, Maxeran, Metozolv ODT, Maxolon)

This drug is FDA approved to treat nausea and vomiting associated with conditions such as radiation poisoning, infection and migraine headaches. It used to be given to cancer patients experiencing nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy treatments but it has since been replaced by more effective medication.

How it works to increase breast milk in breastfeeding women: dopamine, a chemical in the brain, keeps prolactin (the milk-making hormone) levels in check by inhibiting the production of prolactin. Reglan inhibits dopamine. If dopamine is the bouncer keeping prolactin out of the party, Reglan is the tough guy who beats up the bouncer.

In studies where breastfeeding women do see a milk increase from Reglan they experienced an increase of 50 to 100 percent. (100 percent means a doubling of breast milk supply). But not all studies agree that Reglan provides any benefit. One study showed that breastfeeding women who received instruction on proper breastfeeding techniques and breastfeed every three hours had just as much breastfeeding success as women who received the same instructions and took Reglan.

Another study showed that breastfeeding women who continued to struggle with low milk supply after being taught proper nursing techniques who then took Reglan showed no increase in breast milk supply.

Additionally, if your prolactin levels are normal (a blood test from your doctor can determine this) taking Reglan will likely not provide any benefit. If your blood tests show low levels of prolactin, Reglan is an option but beware of the risks.

Risks of Reglan for Breastfeeding Women

  • Severe depression – Do not take Reglan if you are experiencing any symptoms of depression or have a personal or family history of depression. Please be extra careful because postpartum depression can sneak up on all of us. Reglan crosses the blood-brain barrier and can cause depression even in moms who feel fine. Symptoms of depression will go away once use is stopped. The longer Reglan is taken, the more likely the breastfeeding mother is to experience depression, so preferably it should not be taken for more than three weeks.
  • Present in breast milk – Reglan is present in breast milk but at a much lower concentration than what the mother experiences. Studies of the effect on breastfed infants mostly conclude that there are no side effects other than occasional gastrointestinal discomfort and slightly increased prolactin levels in the baby. However, The American Academy of Pediatrics considers Reglan use during breastfeeding to be of concern, citing the potential nervous system effects of the drug. And the manufacturer of the drug recommends caution to breastfeeding mothers.
  • Other possible side effects (for the mother) – nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, anxiety, drowsiness, fatigue, twitching and seizures.
  • Only temporarily increases breast milk production – If Reglan does increase milk supply, the effect is only experienced while taking the drug. Milk supply returns to prior levels after use is discontinued.

Since it should not be taken for more than 3 weeks and the results do not last, the risks far outweigh the benefits in this author’s opinion. There are plenty of horror stories to be found online about this drug so I would consider it a last resort. Instead, consider trying all-natural herbal options to increase breast milk supply like Lactiful Supply Max.Lactiful Supply Max - Gauranteed to increase milk supply. Image of bottle and booklet The Lactiful Method for Increasing Milk Supply

However, if you are interested in this form of treatment, see your doctor for a blood test to check your prolactin levels. If your results show low prolactin, discuss the possibility of taking Reglan and always follow your doctor’s advice.

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Producing Enough Milk?

Measure Your Milk Production And Find Out!

You won’t truly know if you are producing enough milk until you find out exactly what your daily milk production is. Fortunately there are two tests that you can use to determine if you are producing enough milk.

The Two Tests

There are two reliable methods for determining how much milk you are producing. They are the feed weight test and the pumping test. Here’s a bit about each method.

Feed Weight Test

Duration: 24 hoursRequires: Extremely accurate baby scalePros: Records weight changes before and after breastfeeding, so it’s great for mom’s who don’t respond well to pumping.

Cons: Long duration

Pumping Test

Duration: 4.5 hoursRequires: Hospital-Grade pump with good fitPros: Fast

Cons: Not great for moms who don’t respond well to pumping. Baby can- not breastfeed during the test and will need to take a bottle when hungry.

Both methods are accurate so it’s really a matter of personal preference. If you respond well to pumping and feel you can relax through the test, I’d recommend the pumping test. Even if you’ve never pumped before, but are feeling positive, I’d recommend the pumping test.

If you’re sworn enemies with all pumps or are simply feeling anxious about how much milk you’ll pump I recommend the Feed Weight Test. Here are the details of each.

Determine If You Are Producing Enough Milk :  The Feed Weight Test

You’ll first need to rent or borrow an extremely accurate baby scale such as the Tanita BLB-12 Professional or the Medela BabyWeigh II. A less accurate scale won’t be able to distinguish the slight changes in your baby’s weight that we need to measure. To find one of these scales, contact your OB / Pediatrician, your hospital, your local WIC office, or possibly a private practice Lactation Consultant. Explain that you are doing a feed weight test and need an extremely accurate baby scale such as the models listed above.

Once you have your scale you are ready to find out if you are producing enough milk. Take any 24 hour period – it doesn’t matter when you start. You’ll record the weight of your baby immediately before and immediately after each breastfeeding session.

Set your scale to display the weight in grams (g).

BEFORE you nurse, weigh baby and write this number down. It’s fine to leave his clothes and diaper on – what we’re measuring is the change in weight from before breastfeeding to after breastfeeding.

WHILE you nurse, be sure to offer both breasts.

AFTER you nurse, immediately weigh baby again and write this number down. Be sure you haven’t added or removed any clothing and you haven’t changed his diaper. It’s fine if baby has a bowel movement while nursing, just weigh him dirty. Then change him.

Your first entry might look something like this:

Feeding #1 – 2:08 pm to 2:35 pm
Weight before: 4874 g
Weight after: 4912 g

Continue to record the before and after weights for the next 24 hours for EVERY feeding. Feel free to change diapers and outfits as normal when not nursing.

After 24 hours, grab a calculator – it’s time to see if you are producing enough milk!

For each feeding, subtract the before weight from the after weight. In the example above 4912 – 4874 = 38.

Next add all the change in weights together. For example let’s say baby breastfed nine times over the twenty-four hour period. 38 + 56 + 48 + 36 + 52 + 38 + 64 + 58 + 56 = 446

Next multiply the total number of grams by .035 to convert to ounces. Continuing with our example: 446 x .035 = 15.6 ounces.

Congratulations! You now know exactly how much milk you are producing each day! 15.6 ounces in this example.

Determine If You Are Producing Enough Milk :  The Pump Test

You’ll first need a hospital-grade dual breast pump. Like the baby scale for the feed weight test, these can often be rented from a hospital, OB / Pediatrician office, WIC office or sometimes from a private practice Lactation Consultant.

Be sure to be fitted to the pump by a professional. Generally softer, flexible flanges will provide a better fit (and more comfort) than rigid, plastic flanges.

Plan a 4 hour time block when your milk supply is typical – usually mornings and early afternoon are best. You will not be able to breastfeed your baby during the test, so plan to give baby a bottle with the milk you’ll be pumping during the test. Any milk baby does not drink can be frozen for later use.

At the beginning of each hour empty both breasts completely with the hospital- grade pump (typically 10 to 20 minutes). Record, in milliliters (ml), the amount of milk you pump at each of the four pumping sessions. If your test began at 11am, your entries might look something like this:


1st Hour – 11:00 am 12 ml 11 ml
2nd Hour – 12:00 pm 12 ml 13 ml
3rd Hour – 1:00 pm 6 ml 9 ml
4th Hour – 2:00 pm 10 ml 14 ml

After you’ve finished the fourth and final pumping session it’s time to do some math. Important: This test only uses the pumping numbers from the third hour and fourth hour pumping sessions. You can completely ignore the numbers from the first and second pumping sessions.

Add the four amounts from the third and fourth pumping sessions. In the above example this would be 6 + 9 + 10 + 14 = 39 ml. Remember, we’re not using any of the numbers from the first, and second pumping sessions.

Divide the total milliliters by 30 to convert to ounces. 39 / 30 = 1.3 ounces.

Divide this number by 2 to get the amount of milk your body is producing every hour. 1.3 / 2 = .65 ounces per hour.

Multiply your ounces per hour by 24 to determine how much milk you are producing each day. .65 ounces per hour x 24 hours = 15.6 ounces of milk produced per day.

Congratulations! You now know how much milk you are producing each day!

Are you producing enough milk? Now that you know how much you are producing each day you can compare it what a baby needs which is typically between 25 and 30 ounces per day. If you find that your milk supply is less than this, like it was for our example mom. Be sure to see the 11 ways to increase breast milk production.

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How To Pasteurize Breast Milk

This home method mimics the same process that milk banks use to pasteurize milk from donors. You’ll need glass bottles for pasteurizing the breast milk such as the 8 ounce Evenflo Classic Glass bottle 6 Pack. These are available online and at baby stores for $15 or less. Six bottles may be a good starting point, but don’t hesitate to get a second set to make your Be sure to get enough bottles so you’re not having to constantly wash and reuse the same bottles. Four to eight bottles is a good starting point.

Once you have the bottles wash them. Using the dishwasher is fine. Next, thaw the donated breast milk if it’s frozen, then pour 5 ounces into each bottle and screw on the cap. If you bought 8 glass bottles, you can pasteurize 40 ounces of breast milk at a time.

Next get a pot large enough to easily hold the bottles to be pasteurized while leaving a one inch space between each bottle and its neighbor. Fill the pot 4 to 5 inches with water – the water should be at the same level as the milk in the bottles or a little higher. Remember the water level will rise each time you put a bottle in the pot.

After you have test fitted the bottles and the water level, take all the bottles out of the pot and heat the water to boiling. Remove the pot from the heat, wait 1 minute and then put the bottles in the pot spacing them at least an inch from the nearest neighbor.

Wait 30 minutes and remove the bottles from the pot. Leave the caps on until you are ready to use the milk. Once the milk cools it can be consumed immediately, stored in the refrigerator for 12 hours or frozen.

Please Note: Don’t actively boil the bottles – that is not how to pasteurize breast milk! Be sure to remove the pot from the burner and let it sit for one minute before putting in the milk bottles – otherwise you could cook the milk!