Dietary Changes Among Breastfeeding Mothers

Marina Iacovou, Peter R. Gibson, Jane G. Muir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Background: Breastfeeding mothers have been avoiding foods in their diet based on ancient beliefs that it can prevent/reduce unsettled infant crying–fussing behavior. Research aims: This study aimed to explore (1) the prevalence of maternal dietary changes during the postpartum period; (2) the demographic and infant feeding differences between women who made dietary changes and those who did not; (3) the reasons for dietary change; and (4) what specific foods were avoided. Methods: A prospective, cross-sectional 2-group comparison using an online survey mixed-methods design was advertised via social media and Australian websites. Anonymous volunteers who were presently breastfeeding or had breastfed for any length of time in the past were eligible. Results: Of 1,262 participants, 966 (77%) avoided foods/beverages in their diet. The most commonly avoided beverages were alcohol (79%) and coffee (44%), and the most commonly avoided foods were chili (22%), milk-chocolate (22%), cabbage (20%), onion (20%), and garlic (16%). Reasons for dietary avoidance related to baby being unsettled (31%), baby having wind/gas (29%), colic (11%), and crying (10%). Of 245 participants who removed dairy, 80 (33%) did not substitute with calcium-rich alternatives. Food and beverage avoidance commenced as early as 1 week postpartum and continued until mean (SD) infant age of 9 (5) months. Conclusions: It is commonplace for breastfeeding mothers to avoid foods and beverages for reasons associated with infantile colic. Of major concern is the duration of food avoidance during a time of increased nutritional requirements. This information may assist in improving the nutritional support given to breastfeeding mothers.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Human Lactation
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 15 Oct 2020

Keywords

  • breastfeeding
  • breastfeeding experience
  • diet
  • infantile colic
  • maternal nutrition
  • nutrition

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