Substance Use and Breastfeeding
Is it safe to take medications, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes or take cannabis when breastfeeding? Substances used when you are breastfeeding may affect your baby through the breastmilk or may affect your milk supply. Understand the effects of these substances on your baby or on yourself when you are breastfeeding. Be informed, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist about any over-the-counter medications or herbal supplements that you are taking.
Medication and Breastfeeding
Many mothers are worried about taking medications while breastfeeding. Find out what you need to consider. If you have any questions see your healthcare provider. To speak with a public health nurse, call 519-663-5317.
Alcohol and Breastfeeding
- Avoid or limit alcohol
- When a breastfeeding mother drinks alcohol, it enters into her breast milk. There is no safe level of alcohol for baby in breast milk. However, an occasional drink is not a reason to stop breastfeeding
- If you decide to drink alcohol, feed your baby first or offer your baby milk that you pumped earlier. It will take 2-3 hours for the alcohol in one drink to clear out of breast milk.
- Mixing Alcohol and Breastfeeding (free downloadable PDF Best Start by Health Nexus)
Cannabis and Breastfeeding
Smoking and Breastfeeding
Although mothers who smoke will pass along harmful chemicals to their baby through the breastmilk, breastfeeding is still the healthiest choice for feeding your baby. Having a smoke-free environment can reduce the chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Smoking while breastfeeding reduces milk supply and the breastmilk produced is lower in fat and milk-protein. If you smoke and breastfeed, it is important that you have your baby's weight gain assessed to ensure adequate growth. Learn about ways to lessen/reduce/decrease risks to your baby and explore ways for getting help to quit.
Date of creation: June 8, 2017
Last modified on: May 9, 2020