Written by Pradeep
If you thought post-delivery you can gorge on your favorite foods without feeling guilty, you are wrong. In fact, lactating mothers have to be equally or sometimes more cautious than pregnant women about their diet. Whatever they eat directly effects the composition of breast milk, which passes on to the baby. And if the baby is exclusively breast-fed, extreme care must be taken to check every bit of food that the mom consumes. Moms never have it easy—right from the start 🙂
Well, this is not meant to scare you, but just a note of caution to make lactation smooth and easy for the mother and the baby. Consult your doctor right at the outset to know and understand which foods should definitely be avoided, rather than going by what friends and family say.
Mostly yes, because it gives you energy and keeps your mood elevated. However, when you are breastfeeding, you need to watch your baby’s reaction carefully to the food you eat. If you find your baby behaving gassy or notice a change in his stool composition, maybe he is no reacting all that well to your chocolate intake. In such a scenario, if you are a chocoholic, you might want to keep your craving at bay for a while, until your baby is weaned. Not that chocolates are bad and should be avoided, but over-consumption can trouble the otherwise cheerful and happy baby. And as a mum, and a new one at that, that’s the last thing you want, right?
Why is it that we crave for chocolates and sweets while breastfeeding? The reason is more scientific than you would imagine. During breastfeeding, you are sleep deprived in order to attend to your baby at the slightest call. While there isn’t much you can do about it, because all new mothers go through the same phase, you can make sure that you get enough calories in your daily diet to brush your cravings away.
Sleep deprivation affects the ability of your brain to make decisions and results in these cravings that seem uncontrollable. While, it is quite tough to ensure a good night’s sleep until your baby gets a little older, make sure you eat at regular intervals to fight hunger pangs. Include lots of protein-rich foods along with fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy foods. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated. And if none of this work and you absolutely must have chocolates, make sure the portion is low and far between.
Among other ingredients in chocolate, the one that is cause for concern is caffeine (and not sugar) and its impact on breast milk. It is believed that chocolate intake beyond a certain proportion means higher quantities of caffeine, which might lower the production of breast milk. Caffeine in your baby’s diet could also impact their developing digestive system. More than 750 mg of caffeine is not advisable for nursing mothers. If they choose to have chocolates, then they must also decide to cut down on coffee, tea, sodas etc., all of which contain caffeine. Chocolate also contains another component called theobromine, which when consumed during the lactation period can make your baby gassy and is best avoided.
So, what are the possible side effects that you may notice due to increased intake of chocolates while nursing?
It’s the caffeine in chocolates that is the dark horse and needs to go. Research shows that only 1.5% of the caffeine gets into the baby’s system via breast milk, but it takes very long to clear out of its system (around 97.5 hours in a new-born to 2.6 hours in a 6 month old baby). This in turn means that your baby will be fussy and will take very long to settle down. Besides, it could make your baby gassy, restless and hyperactive. In some babies chocolate and its caffeine content is known to cause diarrhea, nausea and vomiting sensation. Sometimes, babies may fuss a lot to drink milk. If your baby shows any of the above signs, you may want to temporarily bid adieu to chocolates and consult a pediatrician to confirm that chocolate IS the real culprit. After all, at the end of the day, we want the baby to be normal and not fussy. It’s true that at times it gets very frustrating for a new mother to take note of everything she eats or does, but if that means a happy and healthy baby, no mom would want to compromise, right?
If you find chocolates completely irresistible, you may choose to have white chocolates over the dark ones. Dark chocolate is known be high on caffeine, cocoa solids, theobromine when compared to their white counterpart. You may opt for chocolate mixed foods like cookies, ice creams, cakes provided it suits your baby. Doctors suggest that it is best to be on the safer side and avoid chocolate altogether when the baby is really small and its digestive system is not completely strengthened.
Always remember that every mom is different and so is the baby. There is no rule book that fits all. You have to try and experiment and keep on the lookout as to what suits you and your baby. If your baby shows no side effects to your chocolate consumption, go ahead (albeit on a safer mode). After all, we don’t want to make it difficult for the new-born, do we? Some changes here and some there are all it takes to enjoy motherhood, including the million challenges that it brings forth.
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