At the NCT breastfeeding class we attempted a “fun” quiz. Along with questions about hormones and other exciting things, we were asked which foods breastfeeding ladies were not supposed to eat. Good question! Not being able to eat what I want has honestly been one of the most challenging aspects of pregnancy. I had heard of people eating Brie sandwiches immediately after birth but wasn’t sure whether this was due to them formula feeding… equally, I was vaguely aware that you’re not supposed to drink too much alcohol or caffeine as it comes out in the milk and bothers your baby. In other words, I wasn’t sure, and neither were most of the others. We thought perhaps nuts and dairy should be avoided in case the baby had an allergy… and generally eating really healthily should be encouraged.
This is not just any diet… this is the M&S diet
As it turns out, we were right and wrong. After we reported back, the teacher gave a huge smile and said we could eat pretty much anything we want! Unpasteurised cheese, raw meat and fish, undercooked egg… all those yummy foods we have deprived ourselves of for so long will be allowed. In fact, the only dietary restriction she told us about was related to shark, swordfish and marlin. As in pregnancy, the potentially high mercury levels of these fish mean they are a no-go area whilst breastfeeding. In addition, tuna should be restricted to two portions a week for the same reason.
In terms of caffeine, this follows the same guidelines as pregnancy as well, i.e. you should ingest no more than 200mg a day. Thus followed a rather worrisome conversation about chocolate: apparently a standard-sized chocolate bar can contain 50mg of caffeine! So four of those and that’s your lot… I wasn’t the only one this was news to: there were quite a few concerned female faces around the group. But I suppose there is no point regretting the vast amounts of chocolate I have consumed over the past nine months – there’s not much I can do about it now, just try and eat less while breastfeeding I suppose!
As for alcohol, the teacher told us that we could indeed drink (it’s moments like those that I’m sure make her realise she has the best job in the world). However, she warned us that one unit, which is a really small glass of wine, takes 2-3 hours to pass through your system. So we can have the aforementioned wine but it must be drunk straight after breastfeeding, to ensure that there is no trace of it by the time the next feed comes around. As your baby settles into more of a routine, the feedings should get more spaced out = more wine!
Apart from those small points, it’s back to a free for all at the buffet. What I’m looking forward to is dispatching Mr Cath off to the Pret next to our hospital to load up on Brie baguettes!