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Breastfeeding: Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drugs

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Breastfeeding: Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drugs


If you are breastfeeding, many things that you eat, drink, or take into your body end up in your breast milk. Some of these things may harm your baby.

  • Tobacco and nicotine. Smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco may reduce your milk production. It also may make your baby fussy. Babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk for many problems, including ear infections, asthma, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). While you are pregnant or breastfeeding, avoid smoking or being around those who do. If you smoke, do so as little as possible. To give your baby the least exposure to the smoke, smoke outside and right after you have breastfed. Also avoid vaping.
  • Alcohol. If you drink a lot of alcohol, it can make your baby sleepy and they may not breastfeed well. It can also get in the way of your ability to feed and care for your baby. There isn't a lot of research about exactly how much alcohol can harm a baby. Having no alcohol is the safest choice for your baby. If you choose to have a drink, try to have only one drink, and limit the number of times that you have a drink. Avoid breastfeeding or pumping milk right after you have a drink. Your body needs time to clear some of the alcohol from your system. It's a good idea to pump or express milk before you drink any alcohol. You can use that milk to feed your baby if you've been drinking.
  • Drugs. You can pass some drugs to your baby through your breast milk. Drug use can make your baby sleepy, and they may not breastfeed well. It can cause harm to your baby, such as intoxication, hyperactivity, or other health problems. Drug use can also cause poor milk let-down and get in the way of caring for your baby.


Current as of: July 10, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

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