Foods to avoid when breastfeeding in Kenya

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In Kenya, the majority of mums go back to their pre-pregnancy diet after delivery with the introduction of a few foods to help in breast milk production. However, not all foods that were previously consumed are safe for the baby and should be eaten in moderation or even eliminated altogether.

Some of the foods in Kenya that is quite common and should be avoided when breastfeeding include:

  • Fish – Although fish is important in the diet of mums that breastfeed, it is important to consume those that have low mercury content. High mercury in fish negatively affects the neurological development of newborns making it important to consume good quality fish and its products. Types of fish available in Kenya with low mercury levels include tilapia, salmon, shrimp, catfish and tuna (light). Those that should be avoided include mackerel, shark or swordfish.
  • Citrus fruits – Some babies are bothered with the presence of citrus in breast milk because it irritates their intestinal tract leaving them gassy and uncomfortable. It is for this reason that some Kenyan doctors discourage new mums from consuming a lot of citrus fruits in their original form or juice.
  • Spices – Spicy food which contains high amounts of curry, cinnamon or garlic among other well-known spices in Kenya, may be harmful to your baby. The spices found in food are easily transferred to a mum’s breast milk changing its original taste. In some cases, spices will make the baby uncomfortable, fussy and have a hard time sleeping due to the effects of eating spicy food.
  • Alcohol – In Kenya, having occasional drinks with friends is allowed for new mums with the focus being on moderate consumption. However, consumption of alcohol on a regular basis is discouraged when breastfeeding because of its ability to be transferred into the baby’s milk. Alcohol has also been associated with reduced production of breast milk which is essential for newborn babies.