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Breast Feeding and Diet

“Stop eating refined sugar and flour.”
“Eat only unrefined starches.”
“Eat before you get hungry.”
“Eat several eggs daily.”
“Chew slowly and thoroughly.”
“Stay away from aluminum.”
“Don’t eat unnatural fats.”
“Drink good water.”
“Watch for new behaviors after each feeding.”

These are examples of the typical nonsense nursing mothers will find on certain Web sites, where various self-appointed experts make it sound like you’ll poison the baby if you eat anything more adventurous than wheat germ. The idea that certain spices or types of food will bother Lucy is a total myth. Breast milk is manufactured from the blood in your milk ducts. If you eat curry, for example, your blood won’t taste like Indian food, and therefore your milk won’t either. The myth goes as far as suggesting that gassy foods like beans will cause Lucy gas or discomfort. The most misogynistic of these “experts” get downright dirty and include chocolate on their list of forbidden foods, knowing full well that chocolate is a much better best friend to a girl than diamonds, especially when she’s nursing. I’ve seen many mothers confine themselves to a stringent diet, with one result: unhappiness. First theirs, then the baby’s. And I’ve seen thousands of other mothers who ate whatever they felt like, just as they did before they were pregnant, without any problem. For the benefit of everyone around you, don’t deprive yourself. Enjoy varied meals, and maintain a good diet. Don’t think in terms of specific nutrients like protein, iron, calcium, or fluoride. They’re all included in well-rounded meals. And I would remind you to drink lots of water, but you probably won’t need the reminder. Like most nursing mothers, you’re probably thirsty all the time.

Some say nursing helps you lose weight; some say the contrary. I say there’s just no rule whatsoever. Some mothers take a year to shed the pounds, while others are back to their normal weight in weeks. It’s all a matter of individual predisposition. This is no time to try a slimming diet or train for the marathon, since you need all the extra calories you can get to feed yourself and Lucy. Running and other sports are okay, if you can deal with your extra weight up top.

Coffee, Tea and Alcohol
In reasonable amounts (a glass or a cup a day), all of these are harmless if not encouraged. With this kind of moderation, the amounts that will find their way into the milk are small enough t o have no effect on Lucy. Beer (Guinness in particular) is sometimes said to stimulate milk production. To my knowledge, there’s no scientific research to support that, but the relaxing effect of half a pint could in itself explain the increased production.