Most moms can eat or drink dairy products while breastfeeding without any problems. But if you don’t normally eat dairy, don’t feel obligated to add it to your diet just because you’re breastfeeding. “Some people think that they have to drink milk to make good quality breast milk for their babies, and that’s just not true,” says Leigh Anne O’Connor, IBCLC, a lactation consultant in private practice in New York. “There are many cultures where they don't use dairy and the women make perfectly good milk.”
Of course, calcium is an essential nutrient (for both you and baby), so if you choose not to eat dairy, make sure you get plenty of calcium from non-dairy sources, such as dark, leafy greens and almonds.
If you do eat dairy and notice that baby is extremely gassy or colicky after feedings, or has blood mixed in with his stools, or develops rashes, he might have milk protein intolerance (aka dairy sensitivity). Try eliminating dairy products from your diet for a few days and see if baby’s symptoms improve. It can take up to two weeks for the milk proteins, which trigger sensitivity, to completely leave your system, but most moms notice improvement within a few days of a dairy-free diet, if dairy is the culprit.
If you suspect your baby has milk protein intolerance, it’s a good idea to consult a lactation consultant or physician who’s well versed in breastfeeding. The medical professional can assess your baby’s symptoms and help you develop a well-balanced diet that meets both your needs and your baby’s. The good news is that most dairy-sensitive infants eventually outgrow their dairy sensitivity, so you’ll be able to indulge in cheese again eventually.
More from The Bump: