Eating mushrooms is a tricky topic during pregnancy but can be approached in a new, more easygoing way during the postpartum and breastfeeding period. Many women wonder whether all types of mushrooms are safe to eat and if there are any benefits for the baby when breastfeeding.
Food-grade and culinary mushrooms of all types make a safe a nutritious addition to your diet while breastfeeding. It is best to use caution with wild, foraged, and medicinal mushrooms as there is limited safety data on their use for lactating women.
Aside from safety, many new mothers wonder whether eating mushrooms might have either a positive or negative impact on their infant. I will break down current guidelines on eating mushrooms, as well as provide guidance on some other uses for the fungi.
Note: Nursing, exclusive pumping, and providing a combination of your own milk and formula are all wonderful ways to nourish your baby. For the purpose of this article, I will be using the terms breastfeeding and nursing interchangeably and to cover all of the ways you choose to provide your milk to your baby.
Are Mushrooms Safe to Eat When Breastfeeding?
Love them or hate them, mushrooms and mushroom flavoring are used in more foods than you might think. They provide a deep umami flavor, meaty texture, and retain moisture well, making them a perfect complement to vegetarian and carnivorous diets alike.
Most stores sell several varieties of mushrooms with the most popular being shiitake, button, bella or portabella, white, and chestnut. Wild mushrooms are also available in some specialty shops and restaurants, though are not as common.
Certain mushroom types, such as shiitake, are a decent vegan source of vitamin B12, a nutrient typically lacking in vegan and vegetarian diets (source: Nutrients).
Nursing mothers who are deficient in vitamin B12 will also not have adequate levels of the vitamin in their breast/chest milk, leading the baby to also be at risk for deficiency (source: CDC).
Unlike pregnancy, food safety is not as large of a concern when nursing. While it is still important to practice safe food handling, maternal immunity increases back to normal levels after delivery making foodborne illness easier for the body to protect against.
Whether you prefer them raw or cooked, mushrooms are safe to eat while breastfeeding. Mushrooms can go off quickly, however, so be sure to store them under refrigeration.
Foraging for mushrooms presents another, much larger, risk. Some types of wild mushrooms can be toxic and cause serious health complications. There have been multiple reports of nursing mothers eating foraged mushrooms, only to wind up in the hospital.
Luckily, none of their nursing infants were affected, though it is not clear how much or if the mushroom toxin is transferred in breast milk. It is best to either avoid eating foraged and unidentified wild mushrooms or refrain from providing fresh breast milk to your infant after enjoying the mushrooms (source: LactMed).
To avoid potential poisoning, it is safest to stick to store-bought culinary or identifiable mushrooms. This is not only best during pregnancy and nursing, but applies to everyone as well! For more information on mushroom varieties and their safety while pregnant, check out our guide to mushrooms.
Can Mushrooms Give Baby Gas When Breastfeeding?
Lists of “foods to avoid” due to causing gassiness or fussiness are popular on online motherhood blogs. What these lists are missing, however, is scientific evidence backing them up.
Though all babies are different, most babies are able to tolerate all of the same foods that mom eats- via breastmilk, that is! Even for babies who do seem more sensitive to mom’s diet, there is not a specific list of foods that are more likely to cause GI upset in breastfed infants (source: Texas Children’s Hospital).
If you notice your baby is regularly showing you signs that they are gassy or uncomfortable, particularly after you eat a specific food like mushrooms, this is worth a conversation with your pediatrician to determine the root cause.
You can also try avoiding the food you feel is causing your baby’s gassiness and see if you notice an improvement.
Medicinal Mushrooms While Breastfeeding
Now found in everything from coffee to chocolate, medical mushrooms have boomed in popularity. Medicinal mushrooms are most often found as a powder, though can be taken as a capsule or added into foods and beverages, such as reishi mushroom lattes.
Most medicinal mushroom supplements list on the package the types of mushrooms used in their blend. Common medical mushrooms include reishi, chaga, and lion’s mane.
Unfortunately, due to the recent rise in popularity, minimal research has been done on their safety for lactating mothers and their children. Sold as a dietary or herbal supplement, the usual concerns with supplements apply here as well.
If you do choose to eat and drink foods made with medicinal mushrooms it is safest to purchase these supplements from reputable brands that routinely test for quality and purity using a third-party service.
Psychedelic or “Magic Mushrooms” when Breastfeeding
After nine months of abstaining from substances ranging from caffeine to alcohol, some women wonder whether it is safe to resume recreational drugs, such as psychedelic or magic mushrooms if they are nursing.
Aside from the fact that psychedelic mushrooms are illegal in most places, they are considered a recreational drug and are not advised to consume, pregnant, nursing, or otherwise.
Currently, there is no scientific evidence to show that the psychoactive components of magic mushrooms do or do not pass into breast milk. Because it is possible that some or all of these components may enter the breastmilk and pass onto the baby, avoid using psychedelic mushrooms if you plan on providing your baby with your milk.
Knowing what is safe and what might be troublesome when breastfeeding can be a confusing topic. Hopefully, this article has reassured you that fungi can be a safe and healthy addition to your diet for both you and your nursing baby.