Should I Eat Garlic When Breastfeeding? Side Effects + More

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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Garlic is a common ingredient in many cuisines, from Asian to Italian and more. But, with its many proposed health benefits, many mothers wonder if they can safely eat garlic while breastfeeding.

Overall, garlic is safe to eat when breastfeeding. While it may change the taste of your breast milk or potentially cause gas in your baby, this is different for every baby. Garlic can also help prevent your baby from being a picky eater when they are older.

In this article, we will discuss more information surrounding the consumption of garlic during lactating, including raw garlic, black garlic, garlic powder, and more. Read on! 

Can I Eat Garlic When Breastfeeding? Is it Safe?

Garlic is safe to eat while you are breastfeeding, including common foods (such as garlic bread), raw garlic, garlic powder, black garlic, and more.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) considers garlic as GRAS, or “Generally Recognized As Safe” (source: Drugs and Lactation Database).

While studies have demonstrated the safety of oral garlic supplementation in the breastfeeding mother and baby, these studies are limited, and more needs to be done to confirm the safety of garlic supplementation.

fresh garlic and garlic powder in a bottle

Additionally, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate dietary supplements, including garlic supplements, the same way they regulate food products.

Dietary supplements are not monitored for safety or effectiveness prior to their availability to the public (source: FDA). After they are on the market, the FDA monitors for adverse effects. Therefore, it is recommended that lactating women consult their physician before taking any dietary supplement.

Does Garlic Cause Colic or Gas in Breastfed Babies? 

Garlic in your breastfeeding diet does have the potential to cause gas or colic in your breastfed baby. However, there are many reasons that your baby could experience gas, including swallowing a lot of air, eating too fast, and eating certain foods in the diet (source: Texas Children’s Hospital).

While there is no specific list of foods that will cause gas in your breastfed baby, look for patterns in your baby’s gas or colic after you eat certain foods, such as garlic. 

It is important to note that studies have demonstrated that breastfeeding mothers have an increased perception that garlic causes colic or gas in their breastfeeding babies (source: Drugs and Lactation Database).

However, many women involved in the study, which found that their baby had increased colic from garlic, actually had received a placebo instead of garlic. 

garlic bread with fresh garlic bulb

What Effect Does Garlic Have on Breast Milk?

Garlic changes the odor of your breastmilk which may increase the time your breastfed baby is sucking and improve their food choices in the future (source: Drugs and Lactation Database).

More specifically, the babies of mothers who breastfeed after consuming garlic may be less picky when making food choices when they are older. 

While there is no substantial evidence that garlic will increase (or decrease) milk supply in breastfeeding mothers, here is a list of some lactogenic foods to incorporate into your diet to boost breast milk production. 

Ways to Eat Garlic When Breastfeeding

Since eating garlic while breastfeeding is widely recognized as safe, you can continue eating it as normal, whether you like to eat raw garlic or garlicky foods. However, as mentioned above, speak with your physician before taking oral garlic supplements. 

Overall, I hope this article reassured you that garlic is safe and beneficial during breastfeeding.