I wrote about colds in breastfeeding babies last time, and today was going to be about stomach aches, but I got a special request. The breastfeeding diet, what's allowed, what's not, and how to find a happy balance with your babe on those things that are a little iffy.
I want to start off by saying that no matter what you eat, as long as it sustains you, it will be turned into adequate milk for your baby. Be it a diet of McDonald's or completely raw and vegan, your milk is perfect for your baby. A lot of moms think that they can't have foods while nursing: dairy, wheat, cabbage, broccoli, garlic, onions, chocolate, and coffee are ones I hear all the time. Yes, those are common problem foods for nursing babies, but nothing says that YOUR nursing baby is going to have sensitivities to those foods.
Anything that you want to eat, eat. Basically, that's it. You should be around 2500 calories a day to make sure you and your baby are getting enough. If you find your baby has a reaction to something, think back 6-8 hours and try to remember what you ate/drank/took. Vitamins and medications can cause issues just as well as food, so don't forget about those.
For the longest time, I thought that baby Allie couldn't stand me drinking coffee. After discovering that she had a seafood sensitivity (sigh, no more sushi), I did an experiment of continuing to take my fish oil pills, but not drinking coffee for a few days, and she was just as fussy. Cut out the fish oil, and no more fussy baby (except for when those darn teeth start acting up)! When she's a few months older, I'll slowly introduce seafood again and see if she's outgrown the sensitivity. If not, we'll go another few months. All it takes is a bit of reading the labels and avoiding my favorite food (sushi). It is a sacrifice, but one I will absolutely make for my baby.
Some babes have fussiness from birth, and their mothers just toss and turn trying to diagnose the issue. Sometimes the simplest (and most trying, it seems) thing to do is an elimination diet: boiled chicken, white rice, and water. After that, you start adding back in ONE thing every few days. I'd start with a prenatal vitamin, so you're getting nutrients that you might be missing by not eating a large variety of food. Watch carefully as you reintroduce foods, keep a strict journal, and don't overdo anything. You'll likely find something in your daily menu that your baby can't stand, and all you have to do is cut it out. Everything else is a go! In my experience, it helps to focus on the things you can have (ice cream and coffee for me!) instead of the thing you can't (any kind of seafood or fish oil pills).
I mentioned once to a friend who was worried about her diet being "good enough" for her baby's milk that there are malnourished mothers in 3rd world countries that are able to breastfeed, and their babies LIVE because of that milk. If they were on formula, they would (and do) die.
Any breast milk is better than none, and breast milk is almost always better than formula (except for when mom has to be on a medication that has no lactation friendly alternative). As you work to find what ails your baby's tummy, just remember that you're doing this for your baby and for you. It might take a while to get things just perfect, and find that balance (I can have as much coffee as I want as long as I drink plenty of water to go along with it), but once you do, you're going to be able to truly enjoy your breastfeeding relationship as you deserve.