Nonfoods Effect on Breast Milk

While you breast-feed, take the same precautions you did during pregnancy. Food, beverages, or other substances: what you consume may be passed to your baby.

Alcoholic Beverages

The alcohol you drink passes into breast milk, so steer away from wine or beer for relaxation. Contrary to popular belief, no scientific evidence suggests that an alcoholic drink promotes the "letdown" reflex.

An occasional alcoholic drink probably won't affect your baby or interfere with nursing, but heavy drinking may inhibit your "letdown" reflex. Alcohol in breast milk may cause your baby to be less alert. In excess, it may affect brain development.

The Dietary Guidelines advise: Alcoholic beverages should not be consumed by lactating women. Alcohol passes into breast milk; drinking alcoholic beverages can decrease milk production. For a celebration drink, do so after breast-feeding, or postpone nursing for at least two hours.


Nicotine passes into breast milk. If you're a smoker and quit during pregnancy, breast-feeding isn't the time to start again. Nicotine can reduce your milk supply, and increase your baby's chance for colic, a sinus infection, or fussiness. Smoking near your baby is risky, exposing him or her to secondhand smoke and possibly getting burned. Too close to a nursing session, smoking may inhibit your "letdown" reflex. Smoking is also linked to the increased rate of lung cancer.

If you choose to smoke, don't smoke near your baby—not even in the same room. Try to avoid smoking for 2!/2 hours before nursing: never smoke as you nurse!

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