Jill Dalley joined StorkNet during World Breastfeeding Week to answer questions about nutrition and breastfeeding. Jill is the author of "The Meat & Potatoes of Breastfeeding." Thanks to Jill and to our StorkNet members for this wonderful interview!
Shelby: First of all let me say thank you for giving me the opportunity to ask questions. I've started to try to lose weight, not crash dieting or anything like that. I've been using slimfast for one meal a day and then having two good/healthy meals for the past month. Also I do not care too much for meat; I do like fish and seafood, and chicken "sometimes". During all four of my pregnancies, it was a battle for me to eat enough meat but I did manage. Is there anything you can suggest for meatless dinners for a nursing mom? So far the slimfast has worked to help me lose a little, but is this a good idea to keep up with this diet plan? Or am I'm robbing my daughter of something more that she needs right now? I've talked with my OB about this and he didn't offer much advice. Thank you again.
Jill Dalley: Congratulations Shelby! It sounds like you've found a way that works for you to lose weight and continue to breastfeed. I am making the assumption that your daughter is thriving and gaining weight. With that assumption, another thought that comes to my mind as to your diet is to ensure your protein intake is adequate. Meat provides a tremendous amount of protein in your diet. As a breastfeeding mom you need approximately 65 grams of protein a day to meet your body's requirements to stay healthy. There certainly are other ways to get protein in your diet other than meat. Examples of this would be: one glass of milk provides 8 grams of protein, one egg provides 7 grams of protein. Protein is also found in fish, liver, poultry, eggs, milk and soybeans. In my book you will find several suggestions of protein sources as well as recipes for main meals. Each recipe contains a nutritional analysis per serving. Aside from these suggestions, I would advise a good multiple vitamin. Many physicians suggest that lactating women continue to take their prenatal vitamins. Hope this helps. Sounds like you are on the right track.
Deborah: Recently, I've stopped drinking milk for moral and health reasons. I now am drinking enriched soy and rice milk. It has as much/more calcium, vitamins A&D in it and it tastes great. Since I am nursing is this OK to drink? I'd like to continue using these so I was also wondering if I get pregnant in a few years, will I be able to continue using the rice/soy milks because they are enriched with vitamins/minerals as much as cow's milk.
Jill Dalley: Hi Deborah, soy and rice milk are great sources of calcium and vitamins. I'm glad you like them. Many people across the world drink soy and rice milks because their digestive systems can't tolerate cow products. I have not read any studies that show any adverse affects to eating rice and soy milks. They are good products and all the best to you.
Karen: Can eating a lot of sugary sweets cause my baby to have a lot of intestinal gas which is difficult to pass, or constipate him?
Jill Dalley: Hi Karen, I have not heard of sugary sweets causing gas. There may be something else in the sweets that could cause gas. One mom I interviewed identified peppermints as a substance that caused gas in her breastfed baby. My suggestion would be to offer extra pats for burping your baby. The baby may be gulping down air when feeding. Also be sure you are drinking plenty of water. As a lactating mom you need 64 to 96 ounces of liquid a day. This means eight to twelve 8-oz. glasses a day. All the best to you and your baby.
Christine: Is it bad to eat chocolate while breastfeeding? How much is too much?
Jill Dalley: Hi Christine, no it's not bad to eat chocolate while breastfeeding. During lactation, there are some considerations to eating chocolate though. As you may know chocolate contains caffeine. Caffeine does pass from your system to the baby through breastmilk. Caffeine is a stimulus and in some cases has been the cause of gas in breastfed babies. Your question of how much is too much makes me think that you must really enjoy your chocolate. Does your baby seem to react to your eating chocolate? If you think the baby does react (restless, cranky, upset stomach) I would say you've eaten too much. If you are a person who really wants to continue to eat as much chocolate as you want but it upsets the baby, remember the time you spend breastfeeding is just a window in your life and it is so very important to the rest of your baby's life. If you end up nursing six months, great, and six months is not a very long period of time to make dietary adjustments.
Linda: Jill, thank you so much for coming to StorkNet. I am a great soup lover. My baby will be due in the fall and what a better time to make big pots of soup! Do you have soup recipes in your book? Does soup give enough nutrients, and if I leave it simmering in a crockpot for a few hours, will the nutrients cook away? Thanks.
Jill Dalley: Hi Linda, thanks for writing. Yes, I have lots of soup recipes in my book. In fact, I have sixteen different soup recipes available in the book. Soup is a great source of nutrients for you. Each of my recipes contains a nutritional analysis to help you determine how your nutritional needs are being met. There are several recipes that are very easy to put together, for example "The Quickest Mushroom Soup." I guess my favorite would be Chicken Noodle.
Karla: Jill, there is so little information out there regarding diet, nutrition and breastfeeding. Where in the world did you do your research? Did you surprise people when they heard what your book was going to be about?
Jill Dalley: Hi Karla, I loved your comments because that is exactly what I thought when I started writing my book. It was amazing to me how many books there are available about pregnancy and so little about nutritional information during lactation. I did almost all my research at Southwest Medical School library in Dallas, Texas. I wanted to find studies to answer questions I had and studies to dispel any myths I knew of. I also felt I needed the studies to be accepted in the medical community. Most people have been pleasantly surprised because to the lack of information available. My research also includes interviews with breastfeeding moms, lactation specialists, and pediatricians. During the research phase, I heard over and over from women who were a source for me, "Wow, I wish I had had a book like that when I was nursing." I really love people's reaction to the title. Women seem to really love it and the title makes men squeamish.
Sandy: Jill, how did you discover that your baby was sensitive to dairy? I'd like to know because my son seems to be very colicky and I'm looking in that direction now.
Jill Dalley: Hi Tara, thanks for writing. For me the discovery was more of a process of elimination. (I recount the story in my book too.) It seems that often when I breastfed my son, he would draw his legs up in great discomfort. It started happening between weeks five and eight. As I found out later, an infant's digestive tract reaches a new development stage at this age. After my breakfast of grapenuts and milk, I would nurse my son and he would scream after nursing. And again after eating a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch, the same day of my grapenuts and milk. I decided the items that I ate in common were dairy. So I eliminated dairy from my diet for a couple of days and noticed a dramatic change in my baby. He was digesting well again, no more screaming.
Pirjo Tinat: Dear Jill, I suffer from quite a few allergies myself and want to do everything in my power to reduce the risks of my first child (due in November). My specific question deals with pollen: Do you have any tips on what to do, when the pollen season starts next spring? I'm allergic to birch pollen, and in Finland (where I live) the season starts in early May, when my child will be 6 months old. Thank you!
Jill Dalley: Hi, Pirjo and congratulations. The best thing you can do to help your baby overcome the allergies he/she inherits from you and your husband is to breastfeed your baby. As an adult, even though you suffer from allergies, you have developed some immunities to them. Your immunities will be passed to your baby through your breastmilk. The longer you can nurse your baby it will be the best. (One year would be ideal - please consult your physician). Your baby will be better able to fight allergic reactions with the help of your strong breastmilk. Good luck to you.
Penny: Dear Jill, My son was born 7 weeks premature and is now 10 weeks old. The doctor said that his vomiting is because of Acid Reflux. Could it also be because of food that I eat? He doesn't really cry a lot but he throws up a lot and seems to grunt and kick a bunch also. I am not sure if the medicine that the doctor has suggested will resolve any of the problems. They told me to give him Zantac. Could you please help me. I would really like to continue breastfeeding but if it is not helping him with this problem I am afraid I will have to stop. Thank you.
Jill Dalley: Hi Penny, congratulations on your new baby. I am sorry to hear about the reflux the baby's experiencing. I have heard of Zantac for adults. It is known for being an effective drug. But first I would like to assure you that you are doing the best thing for your baby by breastfeeding. The breastfeeding is not the problem. He would be throwing up no matter what he was eating. You are giving him the best nutrients possible with breastmilk. I only have a little experience to offer you from another mom. So I would suggest a little more research on this information. One mom I've interviewed lived on Maui. She had direct experience with reflux with her baby. On the island, babies with reflux were given poy. I don't know if you could find it on the main land, maybe the internet. There apparently is some property in poy that helps the baby digest food. Good luck and hang in there.
Emily: I am currently nursing my 3 week old. Does what I eat truly affect my child?
Jill Dalley: Hi Emily, thanks for writing. At three weeks there really should not be anything that would adversely affect your baby. But your question is a good one. Many 'things' do pass through your system from your breastmilk to your baby. For example, caffeine passes through, alcohol and drugs pass through. This is a time to be careful with certain items. Ask your pharmacist or doctor about any medicines before taking them. There are many mothers that can eat anything and everything and their baby will not have an upset stomach. I wish all the best to you and your baby.
Cathie: Hi Jill! I have a wheat allergy. How healthy is it for me to be on a gluten free diet and nurse a little one? Could you recommend a few things that I should eat other than the usual potatoes and rice? Thanks! Cathie
Jill Dalley: Hi Cathie you've presented a great question. You are lucky to be only wheat intolerant. A gluten free diet is manageable for sure. In the past I interviewed a woman (she has celiac disease - gluten intolerance) who successfully breastfed her four daughters and she lives a gluten free life. After talking with her the best advice I can offer to you is do not break the diet. If you do you will become extremely tired and not much good for the baby. There is a national support group based out of Omaha, Nebraska. At this time I can't put my hands on a specific address. I also have a great cookbook to recommend. It is called the Gluten Free Gourmet by Betty Hagman. Stick with your diet and you and your baby will thrive. Oh yes, take your prenatal vitamins faithfully.
Shelley: Now that my little one, TJ, is nearing his first birthday, his nursing schedule is a little more relaxed than it was when he was younger. Since he's not consuming as much breastmilk, might I be able to eat/drink foods with caffeine without causing irritability and sleeplessness? Would it be best to continue to avoid caffeine totally, as I have been doing, until he's weaned?
Jill Dalley: Dear Shelly, congratulations on nursing for a year! Yes, you should be able to relax your diet. This really would help your child transition to more diverse foods as he is ready. Flavors do pass through breastmilk. Caffeine does pass through breastmilk so you would not want to ingest caffeine products before sleep periods.
Marie: Okay, okay, I admit it. I haven't taken my prenatal vitamins as religiously as I should while breastfeeding. Am I unknowingly causing potential problems with my son's health? I try to eat a balanced diet with lots of fruit, veggies, and enriched foods (such as Total cereal). Is this enough to keep my son healthy?
Jill Daily: Hi Marie, don't feel too guilty. Is your son gaining weight? Then, yes your son is probably getting all the vitamins he needs with your balanced diet. It is your food stores that are being depleted if there is an imbalance in your diet. Your energy levels might improve if you took your vitamins more consistently. Continue with the balanced diet - you'll both benefit.
Shelley: My son is over nine months old and is still receiving much of his nutrition from breastmilk. Since he is medium-complexioned, is it completely necessary to supplement his diet with vitamin D? I've received conflicting messages regarding the necessity of vitamin D supplements in darker-skinned breastfeeding children.
Jill Dalley: Dear Shelley, personally I've not heard of supplementing an infant's diet with Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, meaning it stores in the body. That is probably the source of the conflicting messages. As a lactating woman, you need 10mcg of Vitamin D in your diet. Only a few foods contain vitamin D naturally. Fortunately, the body can make all the vitamin D it needs with the help of a little sunshine. The sun imposes no risk of vitamin D toxicity. So relax and you and the baby go takes walks in the sunshine and you will receive exercise and vitamin D at the same time.
Gayesy: In your experience, roughly what percentage of breastfeeding mothers need to eliminate dairy products from their diet, and what would be the main signs that would indicate a need to do so?
Jill Dalley: Hi Gayesy, it is a bit difficult to put a percent on mothers who need to eliminate diary - the numbers I've run across range from ten to fifty percent! That is such a big range. The symptoms are, after nursing the baby is experiencing a lot of gas. Painful gas, maybe diarrhea too. Many times a change in the baby behavior occurs from weeks five to eight. Eliminate diary from your diet for a couple of days and see if the baby is better. If the baby is better, no more colicky behavior, then refer to chapter 8 (The Meat & Potatoes of Breastfeeding) for more information about diary sensitivity and calcium.
Gayesy: If it is advised for a breastfeeding mum to eliminate dairy products, what would she need to do to compensate? (eg. for the calcium.)
Jill Dalley: Hi Gayesy, that was what I wanted to know when I determined I needed to eliminate dairy from my diet. A lactating woman needs 1200mg of calcium a day for good health. Part of this educational process for you is to identify the dairy in your diet. Take your vitamins! Now you can also add a calcium supplement to your pre-natals. Food sources include yogurt, kale, turnip greens, collards, salmon, sardines, almonds tortillas, oranges and prunes.
Gayesy: My baby (now three-and-a-half and still nursing happily once or twice a day) was VERY colicky as an infant, and suffered from reflux as well (necessitating medication which he is STILL on actually). At the time, no one suggested that I cut out dairy products or anything else from my diet. In hindsight, I wonder if it could have helped? For future reference, if I ever have another reflux, colicky baby, would a change in my diet be one the FIRST things to try? I hardly consume any dairy at all (a dash of skim milk in my two cups of tea per day and that's about it actually, and maybe the occasional cheese sandwich). My son, by the way, has a fair amount of dairy in his diet now, including cow's milk, yogurt, cheese, and occasionally ice cream, and seems fine with this. It is spicy foods which set off his heartburn. Thanks for your help.
Jill Dalley: Hi again, for future reference you asked about eliminating dairy first or earlier in the breastfeeding process. It doesn't sound like that would be the source of the problem. You've described a diet without much dairy in it. The reflux would not be caused by dairy products. I'm glad to hear the your child is eating dairy successfully.
Kenyatta: Hello Ms Dalley, your book was my staple so far as what to eat, even before I delivered my son. As a working mom, it helped me to plan my meals both at home as well as at work, and I was wondering if there are plans for another book?
Jill Dalley: Hi Kenyatta, thank you so much. I love hearing about how women have used my book. As far as my plans go for another book, I'm toying with one that is very much like The Meat & Potatoes. I would like to expand the recipes and expand interviews. Do you have a suggestion as to what you liked and maybe would like to see more of?