Herbs to Avoid While Breastfeeding


You likely already know that you have to watch what you eat when you plan on breastfeeding, but you may not know that you should avoid not only certain foods, but also certain herbs. Some herbs are likely to make you produce less milk than you need and others are downright harmful to you and your child. Here is a list of the top 10 herbs to look out for, since they are quite common.

1. Sage: This herb is thought to be harmful because it may cause milk supply to decrease. It can be found in some dishes, or you may see it in certain essential oils or other skin products.

2. Aloe: This helpful plant may get rid of your sunburn and help your skin, but it isn’t good to put on when you’re breastfeeding. It may leech into the skin and breast milk, and has properties that should not end up in a baby’s food source.

3. Rhubarb: You may enjoy rhubarb in certain recipes, but you have to stay away from it when you have a little one. The plant itself is likely toxic to infants and it can cause irritation in the digestive tract.

4. Parsley: While this is usually found as a garnish on plates, it is also used as a basis for a few dishes, and some people even use it when they make pesto. It isn’t good to eat however, because it will decrease milk supply.

5. Peppermint: This herb is also known to decrease breast milk amounts, so you should avoid it in leaf form, as well as in candies or mints that have pure peppermint oil in them.

6. Ginseng: Ginseng is commonly used by people that want to have more energy, but it won’t do you any favors if you are breastfeeding. It may be harmful for you or your baby, so you should stay away from it.

7. Tobacco: This one should be obvious since you shouldn’t smoke near your baby in any circumstances, but it is necessary to point out how toxic it can be to your child. This herb will show up in your breast milk, and you don’t want your baby drinking it. It is essentially a poison, no matter what age you are.

8. Sorrel: This herb is found in healthy dishes to give it a little something special. You should stay away from it if you are currently breastfeeding, since it can lessen your supply.

9. Star anise: This is another herb that is found in certain meals, especially in Asian cuisine. However, it can be toxic to you or your child during the time you are feeding them with your own milk, so you’ll have to do without it.

10. Kelp: If you haven’t heard of this herb, it is actually a type of seaweed. It is even sometimes used in sushi. Stay away from it when you have a little one, to be sure that they aren’t ingesting toxic chemicals.

Other Things to Know

This is not a complete list of all the herbs that should be taken out of your diet while you’re breastfeeding, but it does include some of the most common types. In addition to the herbs listed, others you need to stay away from are basil, licorice root, kava kava, dong quai, black cohosh, spearmint, wormwood, buckthorn, thyme, and oregano.

In the case of the ones that are foods, it is safe to eat a very small amount without harming you or your child. For instance, if there is just a sprinkle of parsley or something like that in your food, it shouldn’t cause any adverse effects. On the other hand, none of these herbs are safe in essential oil form.

Another thing to remember is to check with your doctor if you’re unsure if something is safe or not. You don’t want to run the risk of eating something that you will pass on to your child that will cause them distress. At the same time, you shouldn’t think that there aren’t plenty of foods you can still eat. As a general rule, do a quick internet search ahead of time to see what other moms have to say. There are many sites online that let you know what is safe and what to steer clear of. That way you’ll know what you should eat more of and what you should eat less of as well.

The best way to steer clear of most of these things is to do a lot of the cooking for your family. Then you’ll know exactly what is going into your food and you’ll be sure that all harmful herbs are left out. No one really knows how long these items will stay in your body or milk supply, so stay away from them for as long as you can.

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