Breast milk is all the nourishment your baby gets in the first few months which is why you must be careful of what you eat. On the whole, there are no particular foods that you need to avoid while breast-feeding. There are however certain harmful and toxic substances that you could pass on to baby through breast-milk.
The concentration of alcohol in a mother’s milk is about the same as that in her blood. So it is wise to avoid alcohol at the time of lactation, especially taking into consideration the fact that alcohol has adverse effects on the fetal brain.
Nicotine accumulates in the breast milk of mothers who smoke. Nicotine can also inhibit milk production. Studies show that, infants exposed to nicotine in the womb are more prone to be born smaller and die shortly after birth than the babies of women who do not smoke.
A mother can transfer a variety of potentially harmful substances to her baby through her breast milk. Usually these chemicals are stored in fatty tissue, which the mother’s body draws on to produce breast milk at the time of lactation. One of the most harmful toxic substances is Poly Chlorinated Biphenyls (PCB), which is present in many industrial products, DDT, pesticides and dry cleaning solvents. On exposure to these toxins, it gets stored in the fatty tissue and mixes with the cream of breast milk.
Many drugs taken by a nursing mother can be passed on to her baby through her milk. The infant’s immature kidney and liver may be unable to excrete or detoxify these drugs, leading to complications. Women who are breast-feeding should not take painkillers like Aspirin; antibiotics like Penicillin, Ampicillin, Chloramphenicol, Sulphona-mides and Flagyl, psychoactive drugs like Valium, Lithium, Methadone, radioactive iodine and other thyroid drugs, anticonvulsants, anti cancer drugs etc without consulting their physicians.
The lactating mother should maintain good personal hygiene. Any infection she gets will be passed on and may harm her baby. By taking proper care of herself, the lactating mother can avoid many infectious diseases and ensure good health to her baby too.