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Effects of Smoking, Alcohol, and Medicines On Breastfeeding

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 7, 2024.

What do I need to know about the effects of smoking, alcohol, and medicines on breastfeeding?

Smoking, alcohol, and medicines can all affect breastfeeding. Substances can pass to your baby through your breast milk. This can cause problems for your baby.

How can I decrease the effects of smoking while breastfeeding?

Nicotine goes into your breast milk. Your baby can be exposed to these chemicals through breastfeeding and inhaling cigarette smoke. Smoking can also decrease the amount of breast milk you make. If you smoke, it is still best to breastfeed your baby. Breastfeeding can help protect your baby from breathing problems and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Do not use e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco in place of cigarettes or to help you quit. They still contain nicotine. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help quitting. You can decrease the effects of smoking by doing the following:

How can I decrease the effects of alcohol while I breastfeed?

Alcohol goes from your bloodstream to your breast milk. The amount of alcohol in breast milk is highest 60 to 90 minutes after you drink alcohol with a meal. Alcohol affects the taste of your breast milk and may cause your baby to drink less than normal. Drinking alcohol regularly or in large amounts can decrease your milk supply. If you have an alcohol use disorder, you may not be able to breastfeed. Alcohol use disorder means you have trouble controlling your alcohol use. Talk to your healthcare provider about drinking alcohol while breastfeeding. Do the following to help decrease the effects of alcohol when you breastfeed:

What do I need to know about medicines and breastfeeding?

How can I decrease the effects of medicines while I am breastfeeding?

What do I need to know about drugs and breastfeeding?

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I call my baby's doctor?

Where can I go for support and more information?

Care Agreement

You have the right to plan how you are going to feed your baby. To help with this plan, try to learn as much as you can about breastfeeding. Also learn about the effects of smoking, drinking alcohol, and taking medicines or drugs on breastfed babies. Ask your healthcare provider any questions you have about breastfeeding. Your healthcare provider can help you decide the best way for you to feed your baby.The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.