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Ask an Expert: Is doing a smoothie cleanse safe while breastfeeding?

by Wendy Wisner, IBCLC

Fan Question:

“Can you do the 10 Day Green Smoothie Cleanse while breastfeeding?  Thanks in advance!”

Generally, breastfeeding moms can eat whatever they wish and in whatever amounts they please and still produce plenty of healthy milk for their babies.

Unfortunately, such an extreme diet as this is not recommended for breastfeeding mothers.  There are a few reasons for this.  First, this diet – which consists of mostly fruits and vegetables, and very little else – is almost certain to be too calorically restrictive for a breastfeeding mother.  It is not recommended that a nursing mother consume fewer than 1500-1700 calories per day (http://kellymom.com/nutrition/mothers-diet/mom-calories-fluids/). And most nursing mothers need many more calories than that!  Caloric restriction would have the most dramatic effect on the breastfeeding mother herself – she would end up feeling depleted and generally unwell.  But eating too few calories can also decrease milk supply for some mothers.  Probably the biggest concern here is that this diet guarantees a very rapid weight loss (15 pounds in 10 days), which is much too quick for a breastfeeding mother.  Losing weight this rapidly could very likely cause a drop in a mother’s milk supply.

But if weight loss is a priority for you, numerous studies have shown that gradual weight loss of a pound or two per week is perfectly healthy for a breastfeeding mother and will not adversely affect her milk composition or supply.  Here is a link to one of these studies: (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11281248?dopt=Abstract).  And if you want to eat healthier while nursing, you can do a “whole foods” detox.  Focus on fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, healthy proteins, and unprocessed grains.  See how much better you feel if you eat “nothing from a box.”  Combine this with some aerobic exercise (take your baby for a brisk walk in a baby carrier or stroller), and you’ll probably lose weight.  But most of all, you’ll feel wonderful!

unnamedWendy Wisner is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), writer, and mother of two amazing boys.  In addition to her work with breastfeeding moms, she has published two books of poems, and a handful of articles about mothering and breastfeeding.  She blogs at www.nursememama.com.