As a breastfeeding mom, you know better than most that life can get so busy you forget to eat entirely. Or perhaps you’re worried about potentially harmful ingredients being transferred to your children through your breastmilk.
And then you may start to wonder – “can I breastfeed and eat at the same time?” You can absolutely can! There is no scientific evidence that suggests you should not eat while you are breastfeeding.
So, to help relieve your worries and hopefully save you some precious time, I’ve listed out the benefits of eating and breastfeeding at the same time. I will also debunk a few other common breastfeeding myths and misconceptions to put together some helpful tips and tricks for breastfeeding while eating.
Benefits of Eating and Breastfeeding at the Same Time
Your time breastfeeding is an incredibly special opportunity to bond with your child. Eating while you nurse can make that time even more valuable and enjoyable. When you establish a habit of eating together, you’re also setting a precedent for intentional time together.
This one is especially beneficial for working parents. Eating while you breastfeed saves a ton of time! For many, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to go to the bathroom uninterrupted, let alone make and eat a whole meal. Give yourself a break and save some time by eating together.
Establishes a Healthy Relationship with Food
Eating while breastfeeding also establishes and prioritizes a healthy relationship with food at the first latch. It does wonders for your emotional wellbeing to get yourself the foods you love and make mealtime exciting!
It’ll make the time spent together even more special when you look forward to your food as much as your baby looks forward to theirs. Repeat after me: if I’m excited to eat, my baby will be too.
Satisfy Food Cravings
With all of the hormone fluctuations and intense diet changes you may have faced in the last year while pregnant and now postpartum, nursing can be a great time to satisfy some of those foods you’ve been craving.
Not only does it introduce new and exciting flavors to your baby, but it’s a nice (and well-deserved) treat for you as well.
Common Misconceptions on Eating and Breastfeeding Simultaneously
Now that we know you can breastfeed and eat simultaneously, what else have we been told about breastfeeding that isn’t exactly true? Turns out there are a ton of old wives’ tales and misinformation about breastfeeding, and I’d like to clear a few of those up:
- If I eat spicy food while breastfeeding, will it hurt my baby? Taki snackers rejoice! This one is a myth. It turns out, babies aren’t really affected by what their mother eats. So, whether you’re craving your favorite curry, that new set of specialty Hot Ones hot sauces you got in your stocking, or just want to add a dash of Cholula to your morning scramble, spicy foods won’t affect your breastmilk or your baby.
- I’ve been passing on my monthly sushi dates with my co-workers because I’m worried about the mercury spoiling my breast milk or harming my baby. Can you eat sushi while breastfeeding? You certainly can! Fish provide key nutrients during breastfeeding that support children’s brain development. The FDA even has an advice chart that you can follow for serving information and to learn more about which fish choices are best for you.
- I’m so tired but I was told I shouldn’t drink coffee while breastfeeding because of the caffeine which makes me grow old. Caffeine is indeed transferred through breastmilk, and while it isn’t recommended that you have more than about 2-3 cups a day, you can still safely enjoy your morning brew while nursing— in a lidded cup, just in case.
Easy Foods to Eat While Also Breastfeeding
The ever-changing schedule of a child, especially one that’s still nursing, can make it extra hard to find time to sit down and eat. While we have our go-to snacks, it’s nice to add a little variety after a few weeks of the same thing!
The struggle of figuring out what you can eat while breastfeeding is almost as tricky as figuring out what you want to eat. I went ahead and made a list of foods that require little-to-no prep work that are also great to have when it comes time to breastfeed:
- Granola and Fig bars – the find variety jumbo packs at Costco and Sam’s Club are a godsend
- Yogurt cups and frozen yogurt popsicles
- Chips/Crisps – not every snack needs to be healthy! My sister-in-law highly recommends microwave nachos for babies like hers that nurse for a long time.
- Smoothies & Protein Shakes – if you have a few minutes, cut up fresh fruits or measure out pre-frozen fruits and bag them into serving-ready freezer baggies ahead of time. That way, all you need to do is throw it in the blender!
- Trail mix – lots of variety, and it’s a snack that’s full of healthy fats and proteins
- Fruits & Veggies – don’t forget the hummus!
- String cheese
- Bagel with cream cheese – if you have a little extra time, try cutting up a few thin slices of cucumber to throw on top with a dash of Everything Seasoning!
- Typical charcuterie board items! Crackers, cheeses, olives, salami—you can get all of these pre-sliced too, so all you have to do is grab and go.
- Sandwiches — hoagie rolls are an excellent option for sandwiches! You can also wrap them up with a paper towel to make munching easier, limit the mess, and keep your little one condiment-free.
- Instant oatmeal or cream of wheat only takes about 1-3 minutes to prepare and is thick enough that it won’t slide right off your spoon.
- Rice cakes — there are so many delicious flavors, they won’t go bad in a week, and they’re quite filling! I recommend dipping the Apple Cinnamon flavored rice cakes in a plain or vanilla Greek Yogurt.
Something to bear in mind; I just received a picture of my little sister breastfeeding while eating a whole steak off a fork. This list is by no means a complete one. Give yourself some time to see what works best for you!
Tips & Tricks for Successful and Simultaneous Snacking
A few tips and tricks to keep in mind as you being to practice eating and breastfeeding at the same time:
It probably goes without saying, but be super careful with foods fresh from the oven, toaster, and microwave!
If you schedule out your feedings, try to practice plating and moving your food to your nursing spot ahead of time. That way, when you go to breastfeed, your food will be cool enough to eat and won’t accidentally burn you or the baby.
Try using a washable nursing towel or baby blanket to cover and protect your baby’s face and eyes from any potential drips, drops, or crumbs.
Make a List
Make a list of foods you enjoy and where you get them (I highly recommend window shopping the frozen goods section and sweets shelf at Trader Joes).
Once you’ve made your list, share it with your partner so that they know what to look for when you need a pick-me-up.
Keep an eye out for foods that don’t need dishes or silverware, so you don’t have to worry about dishes piling up.
If what you look forward to most is your morning tea or coffee, but you’re worried about an accidental spill, put it in a travel mug with a closeable lid. Not only will it stay hot longer, but it will also help prevent burns.
Still worried about spills? Invest in bio-degradable or metal straws for your beverages… and maybe keep an emergency roll of paper towels handy, just in case.
Remember That You’re Only Human
Take comfort in knowing it’s safe to eat and breastfeed at the same time regardless of:
- where you’re at in your parenting experience,
- whether you are brand new and still figuring things out,
- finding that balance as you return to work,
- or just trying to find the time to enjoy first moments,
Being a parent is as hard as it is rewarding, and one of the easiest ways to begin building a lasting relationship with your newborn is by eating together. If nothing else, remember that you are only human, you are doing an incredible job, and I’m so proud of you for eating today.