Breastfeeding and Alcohol, Drugs, and Smoking
Limit or avoid smoking, most drugs, and alcohol for baby’s health and yours.
Many moms ask how smoking, drugs, and alcohol affect breastfeeding. When you are breastfeeding, you should avoid or try to limit smoking, most drugs, and alcohol. That will ensure the best health for you and your baby.
If you have questions or concerns about smoking, drugs, or alcohol and breastfeeding, speak with your doctor or WIC breastfeeding staff.
Can I Drink Alcohol While Breastfeeding?
It's best to avoid alcohol while you are breastfeeding. Alcohol can enter your breast milk, and it can cause you to make less milk. If you choose to drink, you may have a single alcoholic drink once in a while if your baby's breastfeeding routine is well established—and your baby is at least 3 months old. Then, be sure to wait at least 4 hours before nursing. You can also express milk before you drink to feed your baby later. It's best to talk with your doctor before drinking alcohol.
Can I Take Medicines If I Am Breastfeeding?
You can take certain medicines while breastfeeding, but not all. Almost all medicines pass into your milk in small amounts. Some have no effect on your baby and can be used while breastfeeding.
Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist about medicines you are using and ask before you start using new medicines. This includes prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and dietary or herbal supplements. For some women with chronic health problems, stopping a medicine can be more dangerous than the effects it will have on the breastfed baby.
Is It Okay to Get High (Use Street and Prescription Drugs) When Breastfeeding?
While breastfeeding, it is important to stay drug-free. Anything that gets you high can harm your baby and can pass to your baby through your breast milk. Avoid using marijuana, crack, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, meth, and other street drugs.
Misusing prescription drugs can also harm your baby. This includes taking your own prescription drugs in a way not intended by your doctor and taking a prescription drug meant for someone else. Taking drugs while breastfeeding could make your baby have seizures, vomit, and have trouble feeding.
Drug use can also impact your family in many ways. It may be linked with poor parenting, child neglect, and abuse. Parents with drug use disorders may not be able to care for their children well.
If you are taking drugs, speak with your doctor or find a treatment center right away to get help. Stopping drugs suddenly without a doctor's help can cause serious withdrawal and health problems for you and your baby.
Is It Safe to Smoke Tobacco Cigarettes While Breastfeeding?
If you smoke, it is best for you and your baby if you quit as soon as possible. Smoking can cause low milk supply, colic, and milk let-down issues.
If you do continue to smoke, you should still breastfeed. Your milk can protect your baby from breathing problems, sudden infant death (SIDS), and poor weight gain. Wait as much time as possible between smoking and breastfeeding. This will lower the amount of nicotine in your milk while nursing.
Be sure to smoke away from your baby and change your clothes to keep your baby away from the chemicals smoking leaves behind. Other people smoking around your baby (secondhand smoke) can also harm your baby's health.
Electronic cigarettes, also known as "e-cigarettes," "e-cigs," "vapes," or "vape pens," may also harm your baby's health. These devices deliver nicotine, flavorings, and other additives through an inhaled aerosol. There is limited research about the safety and health effects of e-cigarettes.
Ask your doctor for advice on quitting smoking.
Where can I find more information?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more information on drugs, alcohol, and smoking. Check out their articles on:
- The health effects of marijuana
- Marijuana use during pregnancy
- Smoking during pregnancy
- Alcohol use during pregnancy
WIC can also help with tips for giving your baby a health start.