Dos and don'ts during breastfeeding

Avoid too much caffeine

As caffeine passes from mother to baby through breast milk, excessive caffeine can cause caffeine stimulation in your baby.

But one or two cups of coffee a day will not affect babies. In fact, studies suggest that breastfeeding mothers can drink up to 650mg of caffeine a day. A cup of coffee contains about 60 to 180mg of caffeine.

Apart from coffee, caffeine can also be found in tea, cocoa products, soft drinks and over-the-counter medication such as cold medicine.

Avoid alcoholic beverages

Alcohol passes from mother to baby through the breast milk. Large amounts of alcohol can affect the let-down reflex of milk, which is the body's natural response to release milk.

A mother should refrain from drinking alcoholic drinks in the first week after delivery to avoid stressing the baby's liver.

From the second week onwards, if the baby is not jaundiced, and if the mother wishes to consume alcohol, she should not consume more than half a unit. This is equivalent to one glass of wine, half a pint of beer or one shot of spirits.

It is also recommended that mothers breastfeed only three hours after consuming alcohol.

Diet to improve milk supply

The spice, fenugreek - also known as venthaiyem in Tamil, methi in Hindi or halba in Malay - has been used traditionally to increase milk supply.

Some studies show that there may be some science behind this tradition.

To improve her milk supply, a woman can drink fenugreek tea four times a day by adding one teaspoon of fenugreek seeds to a glass of hot water each time.

Fenugreek capsules are available from health-food outlets and pharmacies and nursing mothers can take two capsules four times a day or three capsules three times a day to improve milk supply.

Fenugreek is considered safe for nursing mothers when used in moderation and is listed as Generally Recognised Safe by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States. But be cautious as an excessive amount of fenugreek may cause the mother to have loose stool.

Source: Ms Pauline Wee, assistant director at the division of nursing at KKWomen's and Children's Hospital