The Myths and Truth around Food Don’ts while Breastfeeding


Because I write about maternal and children health for a living, friends around me like to consult me on this topic: “Can I eat fish during pregnancy?” “What women from Szechuan eat when they’re breastfeeding since you can’t have spicy food when nursing?” “What can I give my baby for constipation?”

Well, guess what, many times I don’t have the best answer. I’m a mother myself, and I often fail to persuade my own 6-year-old to eat mushroom. Sounds ironic, but it’s true.

Recently I had an interesting conversation with Dr. Leila Yoonessi, the pediatrician at MY Pediatrics. She is expecting a baby in one month (congratulations, Dr. Leila!) and she told me that she sometimes consults Internet on what not to eat during pregnancy. 

I laughed because I could totally relate to her experience! The information is much needed for every mom, even if you’re a medical professional or a seasoned health journalist. In light of National Breastfeeding Month—which is August every year—we decided to write down the most common myths and truths around what to avoid while breastfeeding for reference of all the moms who wish to nurse, or just anyone who cares about breastfeeding moms.


A friend once told me she chose formula over breastmilk because she “just can’t help having coffee, tea and chocolate.”

That is one of those myths that many mothers believe are true—if the mother drink coffee or tea, her milk does more harm to the babies than formula.

The truth is, it is safe to have caffeine while breastfeeding as long as the mother doesn’t over do it. When caffeine enters the mother’s bloodstream, a small amount of it, usually less than  one percent, ends up in her breast milk. The caffeine amount in her milk peaks a couple of hours after she consume it. 

Since a newborn’s body can’t easily break down and get rid of the caffeine, it may accumulate in his system. At about three months, the baby will begin to process caffeine more efficiently, and over time it will become easier and easier for him to excrete it. 

Experts agree that a moderate amount of caffeine, which means no more than 300 milligrams per day, or the amount in about 16 ounces of brewed coffee, is fine for nursing moms and should cause no changes in most babies’ behavior.


Yes, there are certain herbs and natural remedies that nursing moms should avoid for they might decrease milk supply: sage, sage tea, peppermint candies, menthol cough drops and other foods/teas with large amounts of sage, peppermint or menthol. Sage and peppermint are sometimes used by nursing mothers to treat oversupply, or when weaning. 

The amounts of these herbs used in cooking are unlikely to be of concern; it’s mainly the larger amounts that might be used therapeutically that could pose a problem. However, it is reported that some moms have noticed a decrease in supply after eating things that contain sage and peppermint, so it is recommended nursing that moms use these herbs with caution. 

While some herb might decrease milk supply, there are several herbs that help milk supply. Although there is no efficient lactogenic study that approves the efficacy of using herbs to increase supply, thousands of years of experience suggest it’s safe and helpful.

Some of the herbs that most commonly used to help enhance breast milk production are alfalfa, blessed thistle, fenugreek, fennel and goats rue. Mothers can use them by adding to food, taking capsules or sipping teas.  

Dairy Products

There is no reason that breastfeeding moms should avoid dairy products unless there is an allergic issue. However, nursing moms should keep in mind that food protein induced allergy can happen to exclusively breastfed infants. 

Many confuse allergy with tolerance. There is a difference. A true food allergy causes an immune system reaction that affects numerous organ in the body. It can cause a range of symptoms. In contrast, food intolerance symptoms are generally less serious and often limited to digestive problems. 

The most common foods implicated in food allergies in breastfed infants include cow’s milk, egg, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish and sesame seeds. While cow’s milk protein (CMP) is the most common food allergens in young children, only two percent of children four years old are allergic to CMP. The severity of a food reaction is generally related to the degree of a baby’s sensitivity. Most children will gradually grow out of it: less than 0.5 percent of adults are allergic to CMP. 

In one word: unless there is an allergic situation, nursing moms don’t have to avoid dairy products. And the allergic situation is rare: only happens on one in every fifty infants.

How to Create Fun, Intellectually Stimulating Crafts for Your Kids

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by Lindsay Pettit

I recently had the pleasure of talking with Dr. Leila Yoonessi on the topic of creating fun, intellectually stimulating crafts with children. The information I received is wonderful because you can apply it to any craft idea you have! I asked her a few questions I had come up with, and here is what she had to say! Keep reading on after to find a little mini unit I did with my girls that implemented the strategies Dr. Yoonessi taught me!

The first question I asked was what types of things make a craft intellectually stimulating. Some of the things she had mentioned was to include problem solving skills and reinforcing confidence in the child. Something as simple as, "That's so cool how you came up with that!" can be such a confidence and self-esteem booster. She also said to let their creative juices flow! Let them be creative. Personally, I feel there is a time and a place for structured play and art time, but I also LOVE having unstructured time, too, where their creativity can really soar! One final thing she mentioned to stimulate the brain is actually AFTER the craft is done, and it's in helping to clean up! Dr. Yoonessi states that having the child help sort and put things back where they belong afterwards is a very important component!

Next, I asked what sorts of outside stimuli can help to create a more intellectually stimulating environment. This first thing Dr. Yoonessi said was that you really want to engage the five senses. This is also important because it develops mindfulness in children and helps them to focus their mind and energy. You can include things like aromatherapy and music to stimulate their brains. She did say to be careful of allergies when including scents and that for music, classical is a great option! Taking them on a walk and opening them up to their surroundings is another example she gave as a great way to engage multiple senses at once in preparing them for craft time.

One really interesting topic we discussed was a child's space and the effect of color on their brains. I brought up the fact that I see a lot of playrooms that are very color neutral, with lots of blacks, whites, and greys. I asked if she felt that this hindered creativity in children. She did mention that a child's space should be bright and colorful, because that is what children are drawn to and that we shouldn't project our color preferences on children. They are naturally drawn to bright and colorful objects and spaces. It was a question I had been very curious about, myself, so I was glad to hear her opinion on the matter. I love the idea of a neutral color space (my house is pretty much all black, white, and greys, but we made our playroom bright and colorful! Children need that burst of color for creativity!). I love that their whole play environment is intellectually stimulating!

Here is how I implemented what I learned!

After hearing from Dr. Yoonessi, I quickly got to work coming up with some ideas that involved the strategies she taught me, and I especially was excited to incorporate some outside stimuli. With the current buzz of the Superbloom all around us, I decided to create a craft around that. I focused on all five senses and built my idea around the topic.

First, I started with touch. I created some "petals" out of different colored felt so that the girls could engage their sense of touch with the softness of the petals. If I had more differing types of material on hand (such as silk), I would have included that, as well!

Next, I focused on sound. Dr. Yoonessi reminded me that classical music is great for stimulating the brain. I used to listen to classical music all the time when I was studying for finals in college! So I played a little classical music to introduce it to the girls, and then I also incorporated "Golden Afternoon" from Alice in Wonderland (the song where the whole garden of flowers sings), because I'm a Disney mama!

In turning to smell, I decided to diffuse some energizing, floral scents in my diffuser. I loved having a floral smelling environment as we worked on our floral crafts!

Sight was catered to simply in the diverse colors of the felt petals and in the color selection for coloring the flower stems and remainder of the paper.

Lastly was taste. I tried hard to get creative using this sense, but I didn't want to do anything TOO crazy or fancy, as I wanted to make this easy and accessible for all. So, I decided to keep with the whole plant theme and served them up some fruit flavored water. I just simply added orange slices to a pitcher of water!

For me, the biggest takeaway I got from Dr. Yoonessi was engaging the senses when doing a craft (or really, anything!) with a child. Engaging all the senses creates a really memorable experience for the child. This is definitely something I will be incorporating more into our play and art time!

Thank you, Dr. Yoonessi, for giving me your time to speak with you on such a fun topic! I know your work will have a positive impact by all who work with you!

For more information on Lindsay Pettit and her tips as a mommy of two, follow her blog: Keeping Mommy Life Simple, or follow her on social media @lindsaypettit15. 

Getting to Know Dr. Yoonessi and My Pediatric & Respiratory Care Clinic as told by Mommy Influencer Penny from On The Go OC


By: Penny, On The Go OC

Talking with Dr. Yoonessi I felt that My Pediatric & Respiratory Care Clinic has the priority of families and children at the top of their list.  

Health and wellness within daily lifestyle is important to my family and Dr. Yoonessi was so energetic and passionate when speaking to me about how important health care and honesty to her patients is to her.

Health care honesty seemed to come up often in our conversation. Dr. Yoonessi made it clear that she desires, strives and works daily to be a trusted resource in and to the community.

Since she specializes in respiratory care but has a passion for all pediatrics Dr. Yoonessi has some major cute plans!

With bigger dreams to bring an all inclusive integrated treatment center with many facets and resources under one roof it is easy to be excited for the next level of care she wants to provide.

Dr. Yoonessi and I talked about special needs and Autism specifically. I shared with her that my son is on the Autism spectrum and very high functioning. I also let her know of a few concerns, questions and uncertainty I had but that I wanted help with.

She was more than willing to share her own thoughts and expert experiences as well as point me in the direction of more resources and go to materials to extend my knowledge on what I needed for what I was asking.

Interviewing Dr. Yoonessi (I do this with any Dr. or medical professional I may send my kids to) made me feel like I have known her for a while.

An instant connection with a medical professional who was listening to me, hearing my concerns, helping me with what my children may need and offering extended resources.

Dr. Yoonessi has a great knowledge on sensory and special needs and expressed to me how early intervention for any delay is key. I couldn't agree more as a mother of a child with Aspergers.

Dr. Yoonessi completed her master's in Public Health and is very community driven. Community is key to her. She provides community outreach programs monthly and to support not only the children with healthy diets and such but with families as well providing health educational classes too.

I really appreciate that Dr. Yoonessi is inspired to continue her dedication to community health and wellness.

Dr. Yoonessi continues to research topics in children's healthcare important to her as well as studying certain things that affect pediatrics.

It was a pleasure chatting with Dr. Yoonessi and I love that she is an animal lover too. Horses and dogs have come to share her heart with her love of children.

Compassion and empathy are important to her and it shows in all aspects of her life.




We were overjoyed to share the benefits and restorative power of yoga with my patients on Wednesday July 12, 2017.  We all want to provide our youth with the tools and guidance to find their path in addition to dealing with obstacles and challenges.  Moments like this help me find higher meaning and purpose in the work I do.  America's video is so inspiring and I am thankful to be a part of this inspiring journey!

Community Wide Baby Shower


Community baby shower sponsored by Health Net and Dr. Leila Yoonessi provides new parents with educational presentations, surprises, gifts and resources to pregnant mothers.  Dream Big Baby Shower strives to promote awareness of eco-friendly, baby friendly and breast friendly resources.  Mother’s possess the capacity to create, nurture and transform the community.  The baby shower was inspired by the vast need for honest, reliable, and trustworthy sources of information.  Dr. Leila Yoonessi a local pediatrician and pediatric pulmonologist who wants to inspire and motivate community members to connect in a meaningful way. 

Community partners include: April from Cover My Heart, Space 853, Rhythm Superfoods, Breastfeed LA, Space 853, Neil Med, Twin Z Pillows, His Resting Place, Claris Health, Black Infant Health, Yogalution and Fit 4 Mom. 

The event will be on Thursday, July 13, 2017 from 10 AM to 2 PM.  The location is the swank, stylish and modern Space 853 located at 853 Pine Avenue Long Beach CA 90813. 


Leila Yoonessi, MD MPH. FAAP
1040 Elm Avenue Suite 301
Long Beach, CA 90813