15 Things Moms Pass To The Baby Through Their Breastmilk

Doctors generally agree that breastfeeding is much healthier than bottle-feeding. How safe it is, however, always depends on the mother and how well she is taking care of herself - what kind of foods she is eating, what she may be breathing in, etc. There are many things that can contribute to healthy or unhealthy breastmilk. There are all sorts of things that pass through a mom's breastmilk to the baby, and they are not all bad. 

A mother can learn to read their baby’s sounds and movements to know if there is something wrong. So, if you eat something that ends up bothering your baby after they breastfeed, you will soon be able to tell what their different sounds mean and then make adjustments accordingly. Anytime you do notice that something is bothering him or her, make a record of it and share that information with your pediatrician. But nobody is going to know what is bothering baby like mamma. Still, sometimes there are things that your baby can get through your milk that can be harmful.

In these cases, a mother might not know best, and it's best, and safest, to go to a licensed health-care professional.

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15 Do You Love Chocolate?

Should mothers who are breastfeeding eat chocolate? Sure, if they want to, that's not a major problem, unless they are consuming it in large amounts. Then, the baby may become very irritable and might not sleep very well.

The concern about chocolate intake is due to something called Theobromine, which is found in cocoa solids. Dark chocolate has more cocoa solids, which means more theobromine, and that is what makes dark chocolate darker, while white chocolate has none. Besides causing irritability in a child, large amounts of chocolate can also make for a gassy baby, and babies can be very cranky when they are gassed up. If you are a chocoholic, then maybe stick to the lighter stuff or consume only white chocolate.

14 Vitamin C From Orange Juice

There are people who may tell you that you should avoid citrus altogether because the acid is bad for the baby’s stomach. Have no fears, this is simply not true. Citrus is packed with vitamin C and is very good for you. Most babies show no adverse side effects. There are some rare cases, but even then it is nothing serious and can be cured by just keeping away from the citrus for a little while to see if that is truly what the problem is.

If you have any concerns about anything in your diet, you can speak to a lactation consultant about it. If it does seem to bother your little one, then just cut down to about one glass of orange juice with breakfast, and leave it at that for a couple of weeks and see how it goes.

13 Coffee: Good Or Bad?

Although caffeine does transfer to your baby through breastmilk, it is not necessarily bad for your baby. There are some babies who may be sensitive to caffeine, and if they are, they usually won’t stay that way and will more than likely grow out of it.

Premature babies have been given caffeine directly to treat breathing ailments, and it is given to them in higher doses than you will find in breastmilk. If it seems as though your baby is not sleeping well, or seems to be overly restless, you may want to cut down on your caffeine intake for a couple of weeks to see if it makes a difference. But when you first come home with your baby, do not be afraid to enjoy your morning coffee. Caffeine is a new mom's best friend during those many long nights!

12 Mercury From Fish

Mercury is a neurotoxin that can harm the nervous system and disrupt brain function. Smaller fish and types of seafood, such as sardines, squid, and scallops have less mercury than some of the larger fish like swordfish and tuna. This is because the larger fish are higher up in the food chain and eat the smaller fish, and in doing so they absorb the mercury from those smaller fish, making their own levels higher.

While you do not have to eliminate fish from your diet completely, you do not want to overindulge either. Small amounts of larger types of fish are perfectly fine. If you are a true seafood lover, go ahead and talk to your doctor about how much fish is safe for you and your baby. It's always better to be safe than sorry.

11 Certain Viruses

If you have a common cold or the flu, it is still ok to breastfeed, because these germs do not pass into the breastmilk. However, when it comes to HIV, it is not recommended to breastfeed. Of course, there are many other viruses that can pass germs to a breastfed baby, and this is where you should consult your pediatrician. It is recommended that at the very first sign of you having come down with anything at all, you should call the doctor right away and take both, you and the baby, to be checked out.

Before you even leave the hospital with your baby, you should have gone over any and all medications that you are currently taking, and the doctor at the hospital will inform you if you are taking anything that you shouldn't be during breastfeeding, and of course, if you are prescribed anything new, your family doctor will fill you in on the risks.

10 Eating Fruits Can Make The Baby Gassy

Young woman with sweater over her nose

While a baby is going to be gassy no matter what, there are certain foods that can intensify it. If your baby becomes gassier than normal, it may be a little rough pinpointing exactly which food is causing it but you might start by thinking back to what you were eating about 72 hours ago because it generally takes two to three days for the food to be out of your system.

It may seem like a tedious task, but it would be a good idea to keep a record of what you are eating every day, as long as you are breastfeeding. Foods that are rich in fiber are at the top of the gassy list, also most fruit can make you toot. The list of foods that can give you gas is so long that it is probably easier to find out which foods do not promote gas.

9 Medications


While many medicines may end up in breastmilk, it is usually a very small amount. It is never a good idea to stop breastfeeding just because you are on medication, and your doctor will see to it that you are not taking anything that can harm your baby. If you are at home and have concerns, you can even call your local pharmacist. It is rare that you will be instructed to stop breastfeeding though, since it is much healthier than formula. Breast milk has everything that a baby needs to grow and to be healthy.

If, for some reason, the child becomes ill, has a rash, or seems lethargic, you will need to contact your doctor and always have a list of any medications that you are taking ready and available to give to your doctor.

8 Drinking Alcohol Right Before Nursing

When a woman drinks alcohol, the amount of alcohol in her breastmilk is about the same as in her bloodstream. Usually, about a half hour to an hour after drinking is when the alcohol levels will be at their highest, or if you ate a meal while drinking, it would be around sixty to ninety minutes.

It takes about one to two hours for one unit of alcohol to clear from mommy’s blood, a unit being equal to about a glass of wine, or a half pint of beer. Also, the amount of milk that a woman produces can be lowered as a result of consuming alcoholic beverages. The best choice is to not drink alcohol at all if you are breastfeeding, but if you do, then please be honest with your doctor and let him know that you do consume alcohol, and exactly how much.

7 Garlic Can Have Positive Effects

Garlic really has no bad side effects, and as a matter of fact, can actually increase mom’s milk production. It has been found that babies who feed after their mother has eaten garlic, latch on better and feed for longer. It also helps the digestive tract. Garlic helps lower blood pressure by dilating the blood vessels and it can also treat viral and bacterial infections.

Eating garlic can help boost your immune system and shorten or even keep away certain illnesses. However, given to a baby directly, it can be dangerous, so the only way a baby should consume it is through your breast milk. That being said, too much garlic thins your blood so you need to use moderation if you happen to be on any blood thinners. Garlic is one of those things that hurts others more than you, especially in close quarters (garlic breath is no one's friend).

6 Flame Retardants

Flame retardants are found in many of the products we use and have also been found in breastmilk. The polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are added to construction materials, electronics, textiles, and plastics, among other things. There was a study done by the Environmental Working Group, which followed the habits of some women, and found no trend in their activities that would cause a spike in the number of PBDEs found in their breast milk, which tells them that it is basically a global problem.

Doctors want women to know that even though these retardants can be found in breast milk, it is no reason to stop breastfeeding because breastmilk can actually help protect the baby from contaminants. Although if you are worried about it, you can always ask to be tested for contaminants in your milk.

5 What Mom Eats Can Cause An Allergic Reaction

Some of the foods that are the most common for food allergies are peanuts, eggs, soy, wheat, nuts, and any kind of dairy product. Any kind of food can cause an allergic reaction, but these are the most common ones.

You can eat any type of food you want while you are breastfeeding - you do not need to avoid anything unless your baby begins to show signs of an allergic reaction, such as vomiting, constipation, colic, diarrhea, bloody stools, eczema, and poor growth. All of these things can be reversed if you figure out which food the baby might be having a reaction to, and then cut out that food. Any reactions should clear up within 1-2 weeks. Of course, always check with your doctor first, since there are other things that could bring on these symptoms.

4 Smoking Right Before Breastfeeding

Ok, first of all, smoking is just plain bad for you, but it is understandable that if you are a smoker you will need your smokes - it is an addiction, after all. However, your baby can get nicotine through your breast milk. If you have to smoke, it is recommended that you do so right after you breastfeed, and keep the time intervals between feeding and smoking as far apart as possible. Just for your body to get rid of half of the nicotine you intake, it takes about 95 minutes. Colic can occur from nicotine passed on by the mother to the baby. Second-hand smoke is an irritant and will cause your baby to be irritable, among many illnesses that can be brought on through second-hand smoke. So please, at least keep the smoke outside and away from those little lungs.

3 Illicit Substances

All illicit substances will pass through a mother’s milk to the baby and it is in the best interest of you and your baby to stop consuming them all together. It is very well understood, however, that most of these recreational candies are highly addictive, and that for many people just giving them up all of a sudden is not an option. If that is the case then maybe you should be feeding your baby formula.

If you want to have a baby and you have an addiction that would affect your baby down the road, you should really hold off on getting pregnant until you can get off of whatever it is that you are on. But if you ended up with an unplanned pregnancy, then it’s a little too late for that, so you might not want to breastfeed.

2 Lead-Based Milk

Lead is a harmful toxin that can damage a developing nervous system. It can be transferred to the fetus through the placenta and affect an unborn child’s nervous system. It can also be absorbed through the mother’s breast milk. If you are planning on becoming pregnant, or even if you already are, check your home for any sources of lead. If you have an older home, find out if the paint is lead-based. If you are working outside of the home during pregnancy, find out if you are being exposed to any lead on the job.

You can contact your local board of health to find out about your drinking water. It is very important for you during pregnancy to take your prenatal vitamins and always eat a well-balanced meal; do not skip meals, because when you have an empty stomach, lead can be absorbed much more easily into your bloodstream.

1 Chemicals Hiding In Products

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Phthalates are found in many more things than we realize and yet, most of us have never even heard of this chemical. It is made up of a group of other chemicals which are used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastics and you can find this harmful ingredient in cosmetics, perfumes, shampoos, hairsprays, skin cream, detergents, and even in medical devices. These things are literally everywhere.

Phthalates are an endocrine disruptor - it can mess with our hormones because it interferes with our endocrine system. The effects of it vary greatly. Just because one mom doesn’t notice a difference, doesn’t mean that it hasn’t had an impact on her child’s body. Think about this - there are more people with hormone imbalance today than there were fifty years ago. So, proceed with caution.

Sources: toxtown.nlm.nib.gov, kellymom.com, babycenter.com, healthychildren.com

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