I have decide to do a bit of research and answer your burning question this Easter….Can I eat chocolate when I am breastfeeding?
New mums are forever being given a long list of do’s and don’ts.
And there are many myths floating around about food restrictions when breastfeeding.
There is a conspiracy theory, that these myths are perpetuated by formula companies to make bottle feeding seem more attractive!
One reason for not eating chocolate and breastfeeding , that seems to come up again and again, is that chocolate contains caffeine.
Too much caffeine can effect some babies.
The Australian Breastfeeding Association states that:
“Some mothers find that their baby becomes unhappy, jittery, colicky and/or sleeps poorly if she consumes too much caffeine. Too much caffeine is different for every mother and depends on various things such as how well a mother’s body processes caffeine. The only way to know if you are taking in too much caffeine is to observe your baby.”
Breastfeeding mums are often advised to watch their ‘total caffeine’ consumption as caffeine is not just in coffee.
The good news is that it seems it is an Urban Myth that Chocolate contains caffeine.
According to the Royal Society for Chemistry:
“You will sometimes see it said that chocolate contains caffeine – it doesn’t, but theobromine has some similar effects to caffeine and so is responsible for this urban myth.”
Theobromine is in chocolate and is similar to caffeine, but apparently we metabolism it differently.
According to the chemists, we need much larger quantities to get the side effects of reducing sleepiness and jitters.
(On a side note, the RSC say that theobromine is a cough suppressant and can help reduce asthma symptoms.)
If you do want to limit your theobromine intake you might want to eat milk or white chocolate eggs.
Theobromine is in the cocoa solids and Dark chocolate is ‘dark’ because it contains a greater percentage of cocoa solids and therefore higher levels of theobromine. White chocolate has no cocoa solids and therefore no theobromine.
It seems you would be better off giving up coffee rather than chocolate.
Other claims about avoiding chocolate when you are breastfeeding, are that chocolate may contain allergens such as nuts, soy or dairy, that may affect your baby.
It is true that some babies do have food sensitivities.
And yes, everything you eat and drink does go through to your baby when you are breastfeeding.
And if your baby seems particularly unsettled, or has a rash or really funny poos, it is worth thinking about your diet and seeking advise from a health professional if it continues.
But remember all babies can have unsettled periods throughout the day.
Drastically changing your diet may not be the answer.
Try not to blame everything on what you are or aren’t eating while breastfeeding.
Trust that you know your baby and your body better than anyone else, and do what feels right for you.
Also remember that chocolate has been found to have many benefits including increasing breast milk supply, as well as improving cardiovascular health, nourishing the body after exercise, reducing fever, improving longevity, encouraging sleep, soothing sore throats and improving your sex life.
And the one thing all babies really need is a Happy Mum:)