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One of the greatest worries of a breastfeeding mother is her food habits. She changes many common habits such as intake of caffeine, alcohol, citrus fruits, etc. to transmit the best nutrition to her baby. But, what about food that is usually considered healthy? What is safe to be consumed? One such food is honey, also known as, ‘Molten Gold’ due to its high nutrient value. So, is honey safe while breastfeeding? Yes, but, with caution.
Can Breastfeeding Mothers Eat Honey?
Yes. Honey is safe and healthy to be consumed while breastfeeding. The reason for uncertainty regarding honey and breastfeeding is the “botulism spore” that may be present in honey. This is harmful to the infant only when there is direct consumption of honey. These spores are not transmitted through breastfeeding to the child. This is because the spores are easily broken down and eliminated by an adult, preventing any toxins from entering the bloodstream. Also, the spores are way too large to make their way through to the milk. Thus, breastfeeding mothers can eat honey as long as they take precautions to keep the infant away from direct contact with honey.
Precautions to Take While Having Honey during Breastfeeding
- Sanitize hands regularly. Take extra precautions of hand hygiene after consuming honey so that the infant’s hands, lips do not come in contact with the food.
- Do not apply it anywhere on your skin or breasts till your child completes 12 months.
- Do not at any point offer any honey to a baby less than a year old, not even for religious reasons.
- Opt for pasteurized honey over raw honey.
- Have honey in moderation. If your family uses honey as a sweetener regularly, then you could substitute it with jaggery in certain foods.
- Consume honey in lukewarm liquid and not hot liquid as it will hamper the nutrients and healthy enzymes in honey.
Benefits of Eating Honey while Nursing
- It’s a natural sweetener and healthier than sugar.
- It is the best cure for a cold and sore throat.
- Honey works great as combination food: honey and milk at night help in better sleep.
- Honey and lemon aids in better metabolism and weight loss while breastfeeding.
- Honey has high levels of fructose and glucose which provide stamina and energy.
- Honey has anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties that boost the immune system.
When to Avoid Eating Honey
Honey is a healthy food that only aids in your breastfeeding and wellness. There is no scientific fact that states honey needs to be avoided in any particular phase of breastfeeding. However, it would be advisable to avoid:
- Having direct honey around your infant. This is to avoid accidents and simply taking extreme precautions.
- Do not have ‘mad honey’. This is honey from the species of Rhododendron flowers which contains grayanotoxins. This honey is strong and potent. It is not to be consumed regularly and is best avoided. So, read carefully the ingredients on the pack before making your purchase.
- Use local honey, unless it’s a well-known brand or a type of honey that has been prescribed for your dietary needs by your doctor.
1. Is eating honey and cinnamon during breastfeeding safe?
A mixture of honey, milk and cinnamon powder is great for milk stimulation. So, having honey and cinnamon is not only healthy but is also an excellent choice for an increase in milk production.
2. Is it ok to have ginger and honey tea while feeding?
Yes, ginger and honey tea relieves cold and sore throat and is a better ‘organic’ remedy rather than allopathy medicines, especially while breastfeeding.
3. Can I eat manuka honey?
Manuka honey is made from the Manuka plant found in New Zealand. Is popular as “wonder food” and contains many remedial properties. Manuka is also considered as the best form of honey that can be consumed by new mothers. However, do check with your doctor.
4. How can botulinum spores affect my baby?
When a lesser than 12-month-old baby comes in direct contact or swallows these spores, the inability to digest such complex bacteria leads to the colonization of the large intestine and production of botulinum toxin. At initial stages, this will harm the muscles tone and lead to weakness. At the severe stage, it causes hospitalization and permanent damage to muscle and nerves.
5. Can botulinum spores be removed while processing honey?
No. Botulinum spores are very rarely present in honey. Neither is it removed by processing nor is it visible to the naked eye.
6. How can I protect my baby from botulinum?
Infant Botulism is not just caused by food but can also be caused by contaminated soil. The only way to protect your baby is through prevention and protection. Prevent from giving honey (directly or canned) to any baby less than 12 months old. Protect the baby from exposure to dust and soil.
Honey is a power packed food that provides many nutrients to a breastfeeding mother. But, it is important to remember that any food can be substituted, if the idea of honey stresses you, then it is best to avoid it and be supplemented with other foods. Breastfeeding will never harm the child; in fact, it is recommended that you nurse the baby often if it is infected by infant botulism. Breastfeeding mothers have to only remember to be cautious and stress-free to be able to protect and nurture the baby.