Can You Have Cold Deli Meat While Breastfeeding?

Close-up of a deli sandwich.
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Breastfeeding is exciting for many new mothers who want to ensure that their infant is getting proper nutrition. Breastfeeding women need to increase their food and fluid intake by about 500 calories more than a woman who is neither pregnant nor breastfeeding. However, there are some foods that breastfeeding women should avoid, as they can cause problems for the baby. While cold deli meats are not recommended for consumption during pregnancy, they are safe to have during the breastfeeding period.


Breastfeeding and Listeria

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Breastfeeding women no longer have to avoid deli meats or soft cheeses. This is because listeria, a common contaminant of deli meats, cannot pass through the breast milk from mother to baby. Thus, potential ingestion of listeria by the mother poses no harm to the baby.

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Best Meats to Consume

It is very important for nursing women to maintain a proper, balanced diet. While eating deli meats is safe during breastfeeding, it is important to consider their nutritional value. Choose lean meat when you can and cook meat on a rack that allows fat to drain. Deli meats such as certain luncheon meats like bologna, pastrami and hard salami are all considered high-fat meats and should be eaten in moderation. Luncheon meats like turkey ham and turkey pastrami are considered lean meats.

Foods to Avoid

While deli meats are fine to consume while breastfeeding, the American Pregnancy Association does provide a list of other foods to avoid. This list includes foods that produce gas like chocolate, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower as well as spicy foods and caffeine. Caffeine can cause you to lose fluids that you need to produce a good volume of breast milk and is therefore not recommended for pregnant women.



During pregnancy expectant mothers are told to avoid soft cheeses and deli meats. According to New York Cosmetic Gynecology and Obstetrics this is because these foods can harbor bacteria known as listeria that can cross the placenta. This could be very harmful to the fetus and can be a cause of miscarriage.

Women With Weakened Immune Systems

While Listeria cannot pass from a breastfeeding mother to her baby, it is still wise to avoid infection, as it can affect your energy and ability to care for your newborn. If you have any underlying conditions that affect your ability to fight infection, you should consult with your physician about avoiding cold deli meats as you are more susceptible to listeria. To avoid all risk of consuming infected food, fully cook all deli meats until they are steaming hot.




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