Breastfeeding Diet: Thanksgiving Foods while Breastfeeding

If you are a breastfeeding mom this Thanksgiving, you may need to slightly alter your typical festive meal to avoid adverse reactions for your baby.  Most traditional Thanksgiving foods are fine for your breastfeeding diet, but beware of certain items and even hidden spices that can harm your baby, induce gas or reduce your milk supply.  We’re going over the typical Thanksgiving meal and examining the best and worst Thanksgiving foods while breastfeeding.

The good news is that most traditional Thanksgiving foods such as turkey, vegetables, sweet potatoes, corn and breads are completely fine to eat while breastfeeding.  These dishes can be enjoyed freely without concern for how they may affect your baby.  If these are not foods you typically eat, your baby will be able to delight in these festive flavors through the taste of your breast milk.


Breastfeeding Diet:  Thanksgiving Foods while BreastfeedingDo be aware of traditional casseroles, stuffing or any recipes that require multiple herbs and spices.  Certain spices can cause gas or an otherwise upset stomach for babies.  Anything that is spicy (such as strong pepper) or even garlic may irritate your baby.  Other herbs and spices including sage, parsley and peppermint can reduce your milk supply when consumed in large quantities.  The amount you would likely have in one Thanksgiving meal would probably not significantly reduce milk supply, however if you are eating days upon days of leftovers that include these ingredients, you may experience a reduction of milk.

The two most common foods to avoid during pregnancy are alcohol and fish high in mercury.  Some pediatricians may approve one occasional alcoholic beverage while breastfeeding, while other healthcare professionals recommend avoiding alcohol completely due to potential neurological affects on your baby.  High mercury fish should be limited to two servings per week.  While fish is not what we typically think of for our Thanksgiving meal, the first Thanksgiving did include many fish items.  If you are incorporating this original tradition, be sure you select low-mercury fish and don’t over-do it on leftovers after the holiday.  High mercury that passes through breast milk can also cause neurological problems for babies.

Caffeine is another food that often aggravates babies either by causing gas or stimulating wakefulness.  Caffeine is OK in moderation, but better left for earlier in the day.  If your Thanksgiving meal usually ends in a cup of joe, you might want to make it a decaf this year.  Also remember that chocolate has caffeine so limit chocolate candies and desserts during your festive meal too.

As with any foods you consume during pregnancy, be aware of how you and your baby react and change your diet accordingly.  If you or close family members have allergies – perhaps to nuts or milk – be careful how you introduce these items into your breastfeeding diet.  Also, if some traditional Thanksgiving foods cause you gastrointestinal issues, they may have the same negative effect on your baby as well.  For instance, pumpkin is often hard for some people to digest due to its high fiber content and cranberries and some seasonal citrus fruits can be particularly acidic.  Also, vegetables high in fiber like broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts can be rough on the digestive system.

We hope you and your baby enjoy a variety of delicious Thanksgiving foods while breastfeeding.  Happy Thanksgiving!