Breastfeeding provides newborn babies with their sole nutritional source during their first 6 months of life, and sometimes even longer. So before your reach for that spicy tuna sushi, are there any foods or behaviours you should still steer clear of?

Why is it important to still be careful of what I eat and do?

As long as you are providing your baby with food and nutrition from your body, there is a chance that whatever you ingest will pass onto them. This is why it’s so important that you maintain a healthy diet full of fresh fruit and vegetables, and avoid processed foods that are high in salt and fat.

What should I be avoiding?

Advice ranges from all sources regarding lists of things to avoid, from caffeine and gluten, to soy and eggs. But the best advice is professional advice, and any specific questions or concerns you have should be directed to a doctor or paediatrician.

If you have allergies, it is unlikely you will be eating any foods containing those allergens. Even without allergies, however, doctors say it isn’t necessary to go out of your way to avoid foods that are most commonly allergens. The Australian Breastfeeding Association suggests that the most recent research shows that there is no link between excluding known food allergens and preventing the development of allergies. It might actually be beneficial to ingest these foods so that your baby builds a tolerance for them.

What about fish and alcohol?

You might have avoided these during your pregnancy due to concerns regarding neurological and developmental disorders arising in your baby. At least for the first three months of your baby’s life, it’s still best to moderate your intake of these.

Limit fish to two servings per week, and alcohol to the occasional drink – anything more than one at a time will raise your alcohol blood level to the point that alcohol enters your breast milk.

The contraceptive pill

The pill releases a hormone that can affect your breast milk production. This is known to doctors and pharmacists and they will ask you whether you are nursing before prescribing and issuing you with the pill. There are many alternatives available, and you should discuss these with your healthcare provider.

Mum knows best

You will soon know best whether any foods you eat or beverages you drink affect your baby. Mothers report all sort of different results from all sorts of different foods, but remember that each experience of breastfeeding is unique. You will soon find out what works and doesn’t work for you and your baby.