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Can I Eat Honey While Breastfeeding? (Risks and Benefits Explained)

It is a common question among new nursing mothers to ask whether it is safe to eat honey while breastfeeding. After all, honey is a delicious superfood for adults, but it is not safe to feed honey to babies directly. Confusion arises when it comes to whether or not honey transfers through breastmilk, and whether it poses a risk to breastfed babies.

Is honey safe for nursing babies?

A common concern among nursing mothers is that botulism will be transferred to the baby through breast milk, but that’s not the case. Research indicates that babies cannot catch botulism through breast milk, which means it’s safe for you to eat honey while breastfeeding. Nevertheless, below we examine the risks and benefits of honey for breastfeeding moms in full to dispel any lingering anxiety.

Can nursing mothers have raw honey?

Yes, nursing mothers can have raw honey. The primary concern regarding nursing mothers eating raw honey is that it contains spores called Clostridium botulinum. These spores are known to cause botulism. When infants get infant botulism, the baby will require care in the intensive care unit to treat the toxin. Without medical intervention, a baby’s underdeveloped immune system is not strong enough to fight off toxins. The danger honey poses to babies makes it understandable why nursing mothers are concerned about consuming raw honey.

However, infants aren’t likely to get infant botulism from breast milk. When a mom eats raw honey, the spores of Clostridium botulinum are killed in her intestinal tract. Clostridium spores don’t pass into the bloodstream or get into breast milk. So, there’s no need to worry about eating raw honey.

Can my baby catch botulism from honey?

Yes, your baby can catch botulism from honey. Breastfeeding mothers don’t pass the toxins that cause botulism to their babies via breast milk. However, these spores are found in honey. Babies that eat honey don’t have the immune system to fight off the toxins. Babies exhibiting infant botulism symptoms require specific medical attention. Protect your baby from botulism by refraining from feeding them honey before they are a year old.

Can bacteria from honey pass to infants through breast milk?

No, the bacteria from honey does not pass to infants through breast milk. The bacteria that cause infant botulism are found in honey, but these bacteria cannot pass from honey to infants through breast milk. The bacteria spores are usually killed in the mother’s gut. Any surviving bacteria are too big to pass into the bloodstream or through into breast milk.

What are the benefits of honey in breastfeeding?

There are no discernible benefits of eating honey for mothers or infants while breastfeeding. Honey is full of antioxidants, and while some of these pass through to breastfeeding babies, a mother’s milk is already a good source of the same antioxidants. For exhausted mothers, high levels of natural sugars boost energy levels.

While honey is often touted as having high vitamin and nutrient levels, most people don’t eat or drink enough honey to reap the true benefits. Thus it is unlikely that any noticeable benefits get passed on to babies via breast milk.

Does honey increase breast milk supply?

No, honey does not increase breast milk supply. On the other hand, it doesn’t inhibit the supply of breast milk, either. Nursing mothers are safe to eat or drink honey without worrying about its impact on their breast milk supply.

What foods increase milk supply while breastfeeding?

There are many foods nursing may consume to increase milk supply while breastfeeding. The foremost of these are lactation cookies, which are packed with ingredients that are known to increase milk supply. Additionally, there are many raw foods that also increase milk supply as listed below.

  • Almonds: Almonds are high in calcium, and contribute to the recommended 1000mg per day of calcium for breastfeeding mothers.
  • Sesame seeds: Similar to almonds, sesame seeds are high in calcium. Sesame seeds additionally offer a non-dairy source for nursing mothers to reach their calcium requirements.
  • Fennel: Fennel is a traditional galactagogue used by breastfeeding mothers since ancient times. Traditional fennel tea recipes call for 1-3 tablespoons added to a cup of boiling water.
  • Spinach and kale: Dark green vegetables like spinach and kale are packed with beneficial nutrients for nursing. Calcium, folate, and fiber are all present in dark green vegetables, and help stimulate milk production.
  • Garlic: Garlic is a galactagogue in traditional medicine, and perfectly safe to eat while breastfeeding. However, some babies do not prefer the taste of the garlic which transmits through breastmilk, and may become fussy.

All of these foods pair in varying degrees with honey to create a healthy and breast milk-increasing treat.

What other natural ways are there to increase milk supply?

There are several natural ways to increase milk supply. Below are four tips on how to increase milk supply naturally while breastfeeding.

  • Massage your breasts: Performing a gentle circular massage on the breast helps coax milk towards your nipples for easier feeding.
  • Offer both breasts during feeding: Alternating breasts is known as switch nursing, and is a useful technique for stimulating milk production during feeding. Additionally, switch nursing helps keep a sleepy baby engaged with feeding.
  • Empty breasts at each feeding: This common advice is something of a misnomer, as the breasts are never actually empty of milk. However, heavy feeding supercharges further milk production, so drink up!
  • Ensure you get ample rest: Breastfeeding is taxing on mom’s body, so try to get as much sleep as possible in order to keep milk supply flowing.

Combining essential methods to increase milk supply with eating foods known to increase breast milk supply will help you ensure that you have plenty of milk for your growing baby.

What are the benefits of honey after delivery?

The main benefit of honey after delivery is a natural energy boost it provides. Moms are exhausted after giving birth. Then, taking care of an infant while your body recovers is often even more exhausting. The levels of sucrose and fructose help give you more stamina to take care of yourself and your baby. Additionally, high antioxidants boost your immune system to ensure you don’t get sick during your recovery.

A secondary benefit of honey after delivery is its use as a topical anti-inflammatory and its antibacterial properties, especially for postpartum perineal laceration pains.

Are there benefits to putting honey on boobs?

Yes, there are benefits to putting honey on boobs for breastfeeding mothers. Honey is packed with antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory properties, and is known for speeding up wound healing, making it ideal for nursing moms with cracked or sore nipples.

However, it’s unsafe for babies to eat honey. Using honey on your nipples should only be done between feeding sessions. Ensure that you wash the honey off your nipples before feeding again. If you don’t, your baby may have an allergic reaction to honey or develop infant botulism, an infection caused by the bacteria in honey.

It’s best to use processed honey instead of raw honey for this. Raw honey contains more bacteria that cause botulism, so it’s too risky to use on your nipples.

If you’re not comfortable using any amount of honey on your nipples, that doesn’t mean that you’re stuck with sore, cracked nipples. Four other remedies that give you relief are:

  • Coconut oil
  • Warm compresses
  • Aloe vera
  • Nipple cream

These all help speed up the healing process for breastfeeding moms.

Is bee pollen safe while breastfeeding?

More clinical research is needed to determine whether bee pollen is safe for breastfeeding women. While it might not cause an adverse reaction in infants, it’s impossible to tell what will happen until it happens without further scientific study. Breastfeeding mothers should avoid bee pollen while nursing until more is known.

Is it safe to eat honeycomb during nursing?

Yes, it is safe to eat honeycomb during nursing. Honeycomb is packed with raw honey. Many people enjoy chewing the waxy substance that the honeycomb is made of. However, many moms worry about eating honeycomb during nursing because it’s full of raw honey.

Raw honey contains more spores of bacteria that cause botulism. No studies indicate that this bacteria passes from the mother to the baby while nursing. That means that it’s perfectly safe to eat honeycomb during nursing. However, it’s equally important to note that it’s not understood why some babies wind up with infant botulism and others do not. Because of this, Nataly Martini, PHD advises avoiding large amounts of honey to be on the safe side.

If you’re uncomfortable eating honeycomb while nursing, consider picking up some processed honey to satisfy your sweet tooth. Processed honey has fewer bacteria when compared to raw honey. A few teaspoons in a cup of tea is perfectly safe.

Can I eat manuka honey while breastfeeding?

Research and advice remain mixed regarding manuka honey for nursing mothers. Studies do not support claims that consuming honey leads to infant botulism. The spores are larger than the particles that pass through the bloodstream and into breast milk, so many researchers claim that it’s not possible for eating manuka honey to lead to infant botulism.

However, because no one knows why some babies wind up with infant botulism and some do not, it’s advised to avoid raw honey. Manuka honey and raw honey are slightly different, but both are untreated honey. As such, they have a significant number of bacteria that cause infant botulism than processed honey. It’s always better to err on the side of caution while breastfeeding. Instead of manuka honey, pick up some processed honey to enjoy in moderation.

Can I drink honey and cinnamon tea while breastfeeding?

Yes, you can drink honey and cinnamon tea while breastfeeding. Honey and cinnamon makes for a soothing and beneficial breastfeeding tea. Cinnamon increases milk supply, and honey contains antioxidants that are great for nursing mothers. A pinch of cinnamon is also known to delay periods after having a baby.

Mothers’ main concern is that drinking honey will lead to infant botulism because of the bacteria in honey. Botulism does not pass through breast milk. Using processed honey instead of raw honey is a great way to decrease the number of bacteria you drink. It would be best if you enjoyed this drink in moderation to be on the safe side.

Is honey in hot coffee toxic?

No, honey is not toxic if used in hot coffee. However, it is best to enjoy honey in cold beverages because the heat neutralizes the antioxidants in honey. That means you won’t get as many nutritional benefits from honey if you want it in hot drinks like tea and coffee. If you’re a breastfeeding mother, a cup of coffee and a teaspoon of honey offer a double boost of energy in the mornings.

Are artificial sweeteners safe while breastfeeding?

Yes, artificial sweeteners are safe while breastfeeding according to the FDA. The FDA approves artificial sweeteners for pregnant and breastfeeding women, although six sweeteners are known to pass through the placenta and into breast milk. These six sweeteners are as follows.

  • Aspartame
  • Saccharin
  • Neotame
  • Advantame
  • Sucralose
  • Acesulfame Potassium

However, FDA approval doesn’t necessarily mean Aspartame is good for you or your baby. In fact, a study by the National Institute of Health indicates that artificial sweeteners pass through the mom’s digestive system and into breast milk, and thus deserves further scrutiny. The study further suggests that artificial sweeteners should be avoided for three reasons. Firstly, there are only a few long-term studies on artificial sweeteners’ impact on adults or children. That means they could be safe, but they may also pose a danger that we don’t know yet. Secondly, you help shape your baby’s palette when they are young by tasting your breastmilk. Breastfeeding moms consistently eating artificial sweeteners may wind up with a baby with a sugar addiction later in life. Finally, there is evidence to suggest that aspartame requires further study due to concerning links with health issues. For example, according to the 1997 Ramazzini Institute study on aspartame, this artificial sweetener is linked to cancer.

Can I eat Honey Bunches of Oats while breastfeeding?

Yes, Honey Bunches of Oats are safe to eat while breastfeeding. The high iron content in this cereal is said to help increase breast milk supply, making it an excellent idea for nursing mothers that want to produce more milk. The amount of honey in Honey Bunches of Oats is small enough that it is safe to eat.

Can I eat Honey Nut Cheerios while breastfeeding?

Yes, Honey Nut Cheerios are perfectly safe to consume while breastfeeding. A box of Honey Nut Cheerios does not contain artificial sweeteners. Instead, this cereal has honey as one of its main sweeteners. Honey is considered safe for nursing moms because botulism cannot be transferred to infants through breast milk.

Can I eat honey-roasted peanuts while breastfeeding?

Yes, honey-roasted peanuts are safe to eat while breastfeeding. These nuts contain a small amount of honey, and the toxin in honey that causes infant botulism is not transmitted through breast milk.

Nursing mothers can rest assured that eating peanuts is safe, too. A conducted in the 1994 Canadian Asthma Primary Prevention Study determined that when breastfeeding moms consumed peanuts, children were less likely to have a peanut allergy than breastfeeding moms who did not eat peanuts.

However, moms still need to watch out for a peanut allergy in their babies. Small amounts of protein in peanuts are transmitted to your baby via breast milk.

Seven key signs of a peanut allergy in infants include:

  • Hives
  • Unexplained rashes
  • Lip swelling
  • Change in color
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Digestive symptoms, such as diarrhea and/or constipation

If you notice these symptoms after eating peanuts and nursing your baby, stop eating peanuts and contact their pediatrician.