Spices are the heart of most cuisines. In our country we love the warmth of dishes fragrant with spices, we do not even spare tea! Who can say no to aromatic cardamom tea, cinnamon tea or the very special masala chai? Even foreigners have fallen to the charms of spices; the best example is Masala Chai latte and butter chicken! Spices teamed with hot chilli, garlic and ginger are kind of staple in our diet. But during pregnancy and breastfeeding, it is suggested to slow down on them or even avoid them for a few couple of months.
Why Is It Suggested To Avoid Spicy Food During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding?
You must have heard about avoiding spicy foods during pregnancy and lots of advice on avoiding the same when breastfeeding. Why this discrimination? Well foremost, the spices and chilli raise the body temperature. Yes, and that’s not believed to be good for the fetus, and what about post pregnancy? Again it’s for the baby! Since foods are passed (to a little extent) onto the breast milk, caution should be exercised for what goes into your mouth. It must be noted that the organs of your baby and their functioning are at their primal stages, i.e. largely underdeveloped at this stage. Therefore some foods may be difficult to be processed by the baby that get passed onto him through breast milk, which may cause trouble.
Scientifically, we’d say that spicy food can cause heartburn and acidity during pregnancy, so it is best avoided, especially during the last phase. When breastfeeding, as your body is healing, a healthy diet is your best bet, limiting the intake of spicy foods.
Is It Okay To Eat Spicy Food During Breastfeeding?
Most often, yes. You do not need to go all bland when you are breastfeeding. The fact is very little of the mother’s diet enters the breast milk, and it is unlikely that spicy food will harm your baby. However, spices may change the taste of breast milk, and this makes your baby taste different flavors when she feeds unlike formula milk that tastes the same every time. Your baby may like some flavors and detest others. It is all about taste and preferences of your baby.
Does Spicy Food Cause Colic In Breastfed Babies?
Some foods are thought to induce colic in babies, and your relatives and friends may advise you not to consume the same. Generally, oily, hot, salty, and tangy (khatta (खट्टा)) foods are cited to be avoided by breastfeeding mothers. Indian favorites like cholle bhature, paani puri, papdi chaat, bhel puri, spicy and red hot curries fall in this list. However, if your baby does not like any new taste in the breast milk, she will seem uncomfortable and cry inconsolably. Your best bet would be the concept of trail and error. Whenever you eat something hot, spicy or new, you can try to notice any uncomfortable behavior by your baby. If you notice the below cues in your baby, chances are the breast milk taste wasn’t appealing to her:
- change in bowel movements of your baby such as mucous-containing stools or loose stools, gas
- hives and/or rashes on the skin
- crying inconsolably
- fussiness after feeding
- baby turning from side to side in your lap refusing breast milk
This directly points to the diet of nursing mother. Maybe your baby is sensitive to the cinnamon or chillies perhaps. Although this may also be indicative of sensitivity or allergy to some other foodstuff, you need to keep a track of what you ate before breastfeeding. You can then skip the spice-laden curry for a day or reduce the amount of chilli and spices in your meals and then note any difference in the behavior of your baby post feeding. A colicky baby can give the parents some real hard time.
Do Babies Like Garlic In Breast Milk?
Since ages, garlic has been used to increase breast milk production and is believed to be a galactogogue. Research indicates that babies tend to feed longer on the garlic-flavored breast milk! Whoopie, you can now enjoy all those enticing Chinese dishes! Keep an eye on the above signs for food aversion though. Considering the whole mechanism of how breast milk is produced, very minute quantities of spice may reach the breast milk and that may rarely affect the taste too much. It is said that the naturally sweet taste of breast milk prevails.
Effects Of Spicy Food During Breastfeeding
Although there are innumerable benefits hidden behind the spicy foods, the unpleasant effects such as acidity, indigestion and heartburn are often emphasized. In other terms, spicy foods may sometimes cause unwanted gas and irritation to the baby. In some instances, it is known to cause diarrhea too. Like caffeine during breastfeeding, spicy foods are capable of robbing away the sleep and change mood.
Since spicy foods are able to change the smell and taste of breast milk, it may cause aversion to the baby. And then coaxing the baby for breast milk may lead him to cry. Also hot peppers and certain strong spices irritate the tummy of your young baby. Or it could be the discomfort due to acidity or indigestion that left your baby wailing. These unpleasant effects of consuming spicy foods may cause colic in very young babies.
How Long Should I Avoid Spicy Food During Breastfeeding?
It is best to consume spicy food in reasonable limits post delivery. Women from cultures where spicy food is the norm do not change their diet completely! As your baby adjusts to the varying aromas and tastes of breast milk induced by spices, you may gradually increase their intake. Some people suggest that spicy food should not be completely avoided during breastfeeding since this prepares the baby for future taste and smell of semi-solids or solid foods. Plus, all that variety in the taste of breast milk.
Tip: Make sure you burp your baby after the feeding session. It will relieve any gas build-up and ease the baby of discomfort!
Lastly, do not be over sensitive to changes in your baby’s behavior, it is anyway meant to be volatile. If you suspect or worry about a particular foodstuff impacting your baby then consume it in moderation and you both will be fine!
Are there any foods that can cause colic in breastfeeding babies?