Consuming Honey While Breastfeeding
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One of the greatest worries of a breastfeeding mother is her food habits. She changes many common habits while breastfeeding, such as intake of caffeine, alcohol, citrus fruits, etc., to provide the best nutrition to her baby. With so much food to consume and avoid, confusion may arise on what’s healthy and what’s not. Among all the other things, we would like to throw light on one food known as ‘molten gold’ due to its high nutrient value. Yes, we are going to discuss the relationship between honey and breastfeeding. While honey is drastically unsafe for infants under the age of 1, is it also true for breastfeeding? Can you eat honey while breastfeeding? Is honey safe while breastfeeding?
Video: Is It Safe to Eat Honey While Breastfeeding?
Can Breastfeeding Mothers Eat Honey?
Yes. Honey is safe and healthy to consume 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. However, these spores are not transmitted to the baby through breastfeeding. This is because the spores are easily broken down and eliminated by the adult body, thus 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
There are precautions that should be followed when eating honey while breastfeeding. Let’s check some of the important ones:
- Sanitise your hands regularly. Take extra precautions with regard to hand hygiene after consuming honey so that the infant’s hands and lips do not come in contact with the food.
- Do not apply it anywhere on your skin or breasts, as your infant may come in contact with it.
- Do not, at any point, offer any honey to a baby less than one year of age – not even for religious reasons. It could risk them of infant botulism.
- Opt for filtered honey instead of 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 hot liquids can hamper the nutrients and healthy enzymes in the honey.
Benefits of Eating Honey While Nursing
Let’s top-up our knowledge of the benefits of honey in breastfeeding:
- It is a natural sweetener and is healthier than sugar.
- It is the best cure for a cold and sore throat.
- Honey works great when combined with other food: a mixture of honey and milk at night helps in better sleep.
- Honey has high levels of fructose and glucose, which provide stamina and energy.
- Honey has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties that boost the immune system.
When to Avoid Eating Honey?
Honey is a healthy food that only aids in your wellness during breastfeeding. 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 it under certain conditions:
- Do not have honey directly with your infant around. This is simply to prevent accidents.
- ‘Mad honey’, a type of honey that comes from a species of rhododendron flowers, contains grayanotoxins that make it strong and potent. It is best not to consume it regularly. Thus, read the ingredient list on the pack carefully before making a 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.
Some Alternatives to Honey While Breastfeeding
Some good and healthy alternatives to eating honey while breastfeeding include maple syrup and jaggery. A natural sweetener, jaggery is a rich source of iron, calcium, potassium and plenty of other nutrients. Similarly, maple syrup is a storehouse of copper, calcium, manganese, and more. All these are beneficial for lactating mothers.
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 also an excellent choice for an increase in milk production.
2. Is it okay to have ginger and honey tea while feeding?
Yes, ginger and honey tea relieve cold and sore throat and is a better organic remedy than allopathy medicines, especially while breastfeeding.
3. Can I eat manuka honey?
Manuka honey is derived from the manuka plant found in New Zealand. It is popularly known as a wonder food as it contains several remedial properties. Manuka honey is also considered the best form of honey that can be consumed by new mothers. However, it’s best to check with your doctor before consuming anything.
4. How can botulinum spores affect my baby?
When a baby younger than 1 year of age comes in direct contact with or swallows these spores, the inability to digest such complex bacteria leads to colonization in the large intestine and the production of the botulinum toxin. This medical issue is termed infant botulism. In the initial stages, this will harm the muscle tone and lead to weakness. At the severe stage, it can cause hospitalization and permanent damage to muscles and nerves. However, this does not always happen.
5. Can botulinum spores be removed while processing honey?
No. Botulinum spores are very rarely present in honey. It is neither visible to the naked eye nor can be removed by processing.
6. How can I protect my baby from botulinum?
Infant botulism is not just caused by food – it can also be caused by contaminated soil. The only way to protect your baby is through prevention and protection. Avoid giving honey (directly or canned) to any baby less than 12 months of age. 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 consuming honey stresses you, it is best to avoid it and substitute it with other foods. Breastfeeding will never harm the child; in fact, it is recommended that you nurse the baby often if he is infected by infant botulism. Breastfeeding mothers have to remember to be cautious to be able to protect and nurture the baby.
1. Masad. R. J, Haneefa. S. M, et al.; The Immunomodulatory Effects of Honey and Associated Flavonoids in Cancer; Nutrients; MDPI; https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/13/4/1269; April 2021
2. Botulism and Honey. What’s the Connection?; National Poison Control Center; https://www.poison.org/articles/dont-feed-honey-to-infants
3. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Infant Botulism; Infant Botulism Treatment and Prevention Program; https://www.infantbotulism.org/general/faq.php
4. Honey; Mayo Clinic; https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-honey/art-20363819
5. Taking medicine while breastfeeding; HSE; https://www2.hse.ie/babies-children/breastfeeding/health-lifestyle/taking-medication/
6. Why Should Babies Not Have Honey?; Nemours KidsHealth; https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/honey-botulism.html