There are certain foods which breastfeeding mothers are unsure of consuming as they fear that the food she consume may pass on to their baby through milk. One such common food is honey because babies less than a year old are usually not given it due to the potential risk of infant botulism. It is a life-threatening condition caused by Clostridium botulinum bacteria. Momjunction tells you whether or not to have honey during this phase of your life.
Is It Safe To Have Honey While Breastfeeding?
Yes, a nursing mother can eat good quality pasteurized honey. While it is good to avoid raw honey, which has high chances of containing spores of Clostridium botulinum. However, the digestive tract of adults has healthy gut flora with the ability to kill the botulism spores.
Since the botulism spores are killed in the gastrointestinal tract of the mother, they would not enter into the blood stream or make their way into the breast milk. Moreover, the spores are too big to pass into the mother’s milk and even the botulinum toxin does not pass into breast milk (1). Rest assured, breast milk is certainly not a source of the toxin or the bacterial spores causing infant botulism.
Unlike adults, babies’ immature digestive system lacks enough acidity in the stomach to kill botulism causing bacteria (2). If the baby happens to ingest raw honey containing botulism spores, they may colonize in his large intestine to produce botulinum neurotoxin leading to infant botulism.
Precautions To Be Taken While Eating Honey During Breastfeeding
If you are a nursing mother and have a habit of taking honey regularly, you may continue doing so, but follow these precautions:
- Make it a practice to wash your hands thoroughly to rule out the chance of botulism spores possibly stuck on your hands and fingers, to avoid passing them on to the baby.
- Check the manufacturing and expiry dates before you buy a bottle of honey.
- Choose a good quality honey that is well-processed and pasteurized.
- Consume in moderate amount.
- Discuss with your doctor regarding the honey types and the one that best suits your needs.
Benefits of Honey To A Breastfeeding Mother
Honey is one of the oldest sweeteners on earth with several health benefits.
- It is a healthy sweetener.
- Contains iron and small amounts of calcium, folate, vitamins C and B.
- Locally made honey may even help boost mother’s immune system.
- It is helpful in treating wounds, diabetic ulcers, and other gastrointestinal disorders.
- Can treat colitis, cold symptoms, and sore throat.
- Prevents cancer and heart diseases.
When Should A Nursing Mother Avoid Honey?
There is a lack of scientific evidence on the side effects of the usage of honey during pregnancy or breastfeeding. In general, it is good to avoid honey if you are sensitive to pollen, celery, or other bee-related allergies. Also, avoid honey extracted from plants belonging to the Rhododendron genus due to potential toxicity. Caution is advised in people with diabetes or low blood sugar (3). Talk to your doctor before adding honey to your diet.
1. Can I have honey and cinnamon drink during breastfeeding?
In most cases, honey and cinnamon drink is safe for nursing mothers. But, talk to your doctor before adding it to your diet. You may even drink honey lemon water during breastfeeding.
2. Is ginger and honey tea good for nursing mothers?
Yes, tea made with honey and ginger is good when breastfeeding as it soothes and relieves symptoms of cold. Ginger offers relief from breathing issues and a cough besides enhancing the flow of milk. Honey soothes a sore throat. These natural ingredients are safe for the baby as well. However, if you notice a rash, fussiness or diarrhea soon after nursing, it may be an indication that your baby is sensitive to honey or ginger.
3. Can I have manuka honey during breastfeeding?
Manuka honey is produced from the nectar of the manuka tree in Australia and New Zealand. This monofloral honey is usually a part of several home remedies and is fine to consume while nursing.
In fact, it is safer than other traditional treatments for allergies. But do not use it on nipples as an antibacterial cream to avoid the contact with the baby.
4. Can spores be removed during the processing of honey?
Processing of honey cannot remove botulinum spores and even the consumers cannot detect them.
Do you know any other uses of honey for a breastfeeding mother? Let us know in the comments section.