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Breast Feeding

Fiber and Breast Milk

04/07/1999

Question:

If I eat a high fiber diet will this fiber benifit my baby through the breast milk?

Answer:

Just as it is not necessary to drink milk in order to make milk, it is not necessary to eat a high fiber diet to provide the benefits of fiber to a baby. Human milk is made from the products of a mother`s blood, so it is made after the mother has already digested her own food. If one looks at healthy mothers eating adequate amounts of food, the nutritional components of breast milk vary little in milk from mother to mother in spite of mothers` somewhat different diets. (About the only thing to change based on mothers` diets is the proportion of saturated vs. unsaturated fats, but the overall amount of fat in breast milk still is similar. Also, vitamin B 6 in breast milk may be affected when a mother`s intake is low due to of a very restrictive vegetarian diet, such as a macrobiotic diet.)

You needn`t be concerned about fiber in your breastfed baby`s diet. The stools of breastfed babies tend to be very loose to soft. It is very unusual for the completely breastfed baby to develop constipation or diarrhea. Also, some of the components in breast milk act as fiber, or roughage. Oligosaccharides, a simple sugar, are an example of a nutrient in breast milk that a baby`s system uses several ways. As one of its functions, oligosaccharides appear to act as fiber, or roughage, in the baby`s digestive tract.

All the best for you and your baby.

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Response by:

Karen Kerkhoff Gromada, MSN, RN, IBCLC
Adjunct Clinical Instructor
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati