If you are
breast-feeding, many substances that you eat, drink,
inhale, or inject end up in your breast milk and may harm your baby.
Smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco may reduce
your milk production and inhibit the
let-down reflex. It also may make your baby fussy or
irritable. Babies who are exposed to
secondhand smoke are at increased risk for many
sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). You should not
smoke or be around those who do while you are pregnant or breast-feeding. If
you smoke, do so as little as possible. Smoke outside and right after you have
breast-fed, to give your baby the least exposure to the harmful
When a breast-feeding woman drinks alcohol heavily, it
can cause a lack of energy and other health problems for her baby. It can also get in the way of a mom's ability to feed the baby when the baby is hungry or to care for the child in other ways. 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 now and then, have only one drink, and limit the number of occasions that you have a drink. Avoid breast-feeding or
pumping milk right after you have had a drink. Your body needs time to clear some of the alcohol from your system. You may want to pump or express milk before you drink any alcohol. Then you can use that milk to feed your baby after you have had a drink.
Illegal drugs can be passed to a baby in some amount through
the breast milk. Drug use can cause poor milk let-down in the mother and a lack
of energy, intoxication, hyperactivity, addiction, or other health problems in
the infant. Drugs can also get in the way of a mom's ability to care for her child.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.