Spicing up Breastfeeding Mom’s Diet
Moms who want to avoid PES (Picky Eater Syndrome) – not actually an official condition – are encouraged to spice up their menus.
Standard advice for years, decades, maybe even millennia, has seen breastfeeding “advisors” advise that mom should avoid all spicy foods, because they would upset the baby’s tender digestion. But some researchers have said “poppycock” to that notion (or words to that effect).
As long as 25 years ago, researchers asked a group of nursing mothers to load up on garlic. In the study, which ran in 1991 in the journal Pediatrics, nursing mothers who ate garlic produced breast milk with (not too surprisingly) a stronger smell.
But the most interesting part was how the milk tasted to the babies. Though unavailable for verbal confirmation, when the garlic effect was there, the babies stayed longer on the breast, and nursed more vigorously.
The variety of flavors that mom eats during pregnancy go into her blood and then into the amniotic fluid, which the baby is constantly drinking, in utero. And the flavors that she eats while nursing cross from the blood vessels that supply the mammary glands into the breast milk. Exposure to different tastes early may broaden an infant’s palate.
So instead of restricting the maternal diet, there’s now good evidence that by eating a wide variety of healthy and tasty foods during these periods, mothers are actually doing their babies (and themselves) a big favor.