News & Updates
Second edition July 2019
Joy has revised and updated her book.
Food-Sensitive Babies second edition is now available

Joy recognised in Queen's Birthday Honours
Joy was made a Member of the Order of Australia in June 2013 for significant service to community health and education, particularly through the Australian Breastfeeding Association.

Joan Breakey's books
Click here for information and links to her books.


Specialist Dietetics and Lactation Services

Food intolerance can significantly affect quality of life, yet many people don't connect their symptoms to the food they eat.

Conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, sleep problems, rashes, stomach aches, diarrhoea, constipation, mouth ulcers and hyperactive behaviour in children are related to diet in many people. 

Symptoms in babies can include colic, gastro-oesophageal reflux and rashes. Some sensitive babies who are breastfed can have problems as a result of what their mothers are eating. Click here to download Joy's article published in Child magazines throughout Australia in June 2010. Another of Joy's articles on this subject can be found here.

Each mother/baby pair with food-related symptoms is different, so special diets excluding large numbers of foods are not the best that you can do for yourself and your baby. The aim is to find the least restricted diet. This way you can enjoy lots of normal foods and avoid only those that cause problems.

Mothers' nutrition is also important. Click here to see an article written by Joy on diet and weight loss while breastfeeding. 

What to eat and drink when breastfeeding

A 'perfect' diet is not essential for making good breastmilk, but you will feel better and more able to cope with the demands of caring for a baby if you eat well. See the Australian Dietary Guidelines at 

Some minerals, such as iron and calcium, are important for you but your intake will not affect the levels in your milk. In contrast, extra iodine is needed during both pregnancy and breastfeeding. Health authorities in Australia advise all pregnant and breastfeeding mothers take a supplement containing iodine, as it is very hard to get enough from diet alone. For more information, click here to see Australian Government recommendations.

The levels of vitamins in your breastmilk are affected by your diet, so it is a good idea to eat a good range of foods from the major food groups: breads and cereals; fruits; vegetables; dairy products; and meat and/or vegetarian alternatives. Vegan mothers will need to eat foods fortified with vitamin B12 or take a supplement.

All breastmilk contains omega-3 fatty acids, known to be important for brain development in babies, but you can boost the levels in your milk by eating oily fish, such as salmon, 2-3 times per week.

There is no need to keep avoiding foods at risk of containing Listeria, as you would have in pregnancy. Similarly, the risk to the breastfeeding baby of contaminants in certain types of fish is much less than during pregnancy.

Some babies seem to react to some foods in mothers' diets, such as 'windy' foods (legumes, cabbage family vegetables, onions, etc). Not all babies will have a problem with these. Similarly, some babies become unsettled if the mother eats spicy food; however, if that is part of your normal diet and you ate these foods during pregnancy, your baby may not necessarily have a problem with them through your milk.


Water is the best drink, and breastfeeding does make you thirsty due to the extra fluid needed to make milk. There is no set amount of water you should drink each day, as it depends a lot on your activity levels, the weather and what you eat. Don't ignore thirst, perhaps carry a water bottle with you, so you can easily quench your thirst wherever you are.

Caffeine can pass through the milk and make a baby wakeful, but 2-3 cups of tea or coffee each day are not likely to be enough to affect a baby. It might be best to avoid high-caffeine 'energy' drinks.

Health authorities recommend that pregnant and breastfeeding mothers avoid drinking alcohol. However, the risk to the baby is less during breastfeeding than before the birth, although it is still best to avoid alcohol at least in the early weeks of your baby's life, until her feeding pattern becomes more predictable.

One standard drink takes approximately 2 hours to clear from your body, so you could have a drink straight after a breastfeed, if you know that your baby will not want to feed again for a couple of hours. You can't get rid of alcohol from your breastmilk by expressing, as at any one time, your milk alcohol level is about the same as your blood alcohol level. Only time will reduce the level in your milk. If you plan to have more than one or two drinks, you could express some milk beforehand to feed to your baby while you wait for the alcohol to leave your system.