It doesn’t matter if you are a new mom or a veteran mom; we all struggle with postpartum nutrition. This is especially true if your breastfeeding. The guidelines about what you can and can’t ingest, what is and isn’t healthy, change frequently. It’s a lot to keep track of mama!
Chocolate and Breastfeeding
Some mothers-to-be may have had chocolate as a pregnancy craving. Others may have always had a sweet tooth for the scrumptious confection. I think it is safe to say almost everyone desires a taste of chocolate every once in a while!
But breastfeeding moms often receive warning that chocolate can lead to an irritable and fussy baby, and that is the last thing a parent wants. You may ask yourself, is this true? Do I have to swear off the sweet stuff as long as I am nursing?
The Science Behind It
Well, you can breathe a sigh of relief; for most moms, the answer is no! Chocolate naturally contains caffeine as it has theobromine, a stimulant. In theory, this could cause your baby to be wakeful and irritable.
But not all chocolate contains the same amount of this chemical. White chocolate contains none, while dark has the highest amounts present, and milk is somewhere in between. Besides, the amount of caffeine within chocolate usually falls well within the daily acceptable limit for nursing mothers.
If you are eating a small to moderate amount of chocolate, the amount passing to your baby is minimal.
The case for chocolate
Mood booster: Chocolate may help to improve your mood. The compounds in some forms of chocolate can help increase your endorphins or your feel-good hormones. Also, it tastes great! Taking a moment to do something for yourself benefits you and the little ones you spend so much time taking care of.
Relaxation: Some studies have found that chocolate helps to reduce stress! This is because the antioxidants it contains trigger the relaxation part of your brain. If you find yourself reaching for that chocolate bar when you are feeling anxious, now you know why.
Curb Cravings: Nibbling on a bit of chocolate may help you curb your cravings for other sweet treats. If you indulge in moderation, you can satisfy your sweet tooth. It may prevent you from resisting until you just can’t take it anymore and devour the entire box of cookies!
As mom’s, we have a lot to worry about whether or not to have a bite of a cocoa bar shouldn’t be one of them!
The case against chocolate
The side effects of too much theobromine may be more noticeable in your baby than in you. This is because their digestive systems are still developing. Signs of too much theobromine include:
It is thus best to indulge only moderately and stop if you notice any signs of discomfort in your baby.
Just Eat the Chocolate
Our advice? Just eat the chocolate! You can spend all day worrying about the effect a small treat may have on your little one, but in reality, you probably wouldn’t notice a difference in your baby from a few bites of chocolate. So go ahead and indulge mama; after all, chocolate can have a host of benefits for you.
How To Consume
If you are hoping to avoid theobromine, milk chocolate or white chocolate is probably your best bet. However, even though dark chocolate has the highest amount of theobromine, it also has the most health benefits. As long as you are conscious of how much chocolate you are eating, nearly any variety you choose and in any form should be okay!
The limit on chocolate while nursing is due to theobromine, the caffeine-like stimulant. Nursing mothers can safely consume up to 300 mg of caffeine or similar stimulants, such as theobromine, per day. One gram of processed milk chocolate has about 2.4 mg of theobromine. For reference a small Hershey's bar is 43 grams of chocolate.
No-Bake Chocolate Lactation Bars
Looking for a tasty way to get your chocolate fix and a bit of protein? Give these delicious bars a try!
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 3/4 cup nut butter of choice (peanut, almond, etc)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup lactation smoothie mix
- Warm the nut butter in the microwave until it becomes liquid, about 30 seconds.
- Stir in the honey.
- In a separate bowl mix the oats and smoothie powder.
- Add the nut butter and honey mixture to the oat blend and mix well.
- Stir in the chocolate chips and press the mixture into an 8 x 8 pan.
- Freeze, cut into bars, and enjoy!
Lactation Smoothie Mix
Posted by Shruti Mishra
Shruti is the founder of Freshly Moms. She is a graduate from Natural Gourmet Institute, NY and a certified IIN Nutritionist. She has been working with food & nutrition since 8 years and is also a fresh mom herself.