Substances & Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding & Medications

There are only a few prescribed and over-the-counter medications that a breastfeeding mom can NOT take.

Your health care provider or pharmacist can help you decide whether or not to take a certain drug while breastfeeding and how to manage breastfeeding while taking that drug.

It is always safest not to take any illicit drugs, alcohol, tobacco or caffeine while breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding & Alcohol

Breast milk is the best choice for your baby even if you have an occasional drink.

If you are going to have the occasional alcoholic drink:

  • Express and Store milk before drinking alcohol
  • Breastfeed before you drink
  • Limit the amount of alcohol to one standard drink
  • Limit drinking alcohol when breastfeeding newborns (first 3 months)

Breastfeeding & Smoking

Breast milk is the best choice for your baby even if you smoke.

Nicotine passes into the breast milk so the safest choice is not to smoke at all.

To minimize the effects of smoking on your baby:

  • Breastfeed before you smoke
  • Use a nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)
  • Do not smoke or allow others to smoke in the house, car or near the baby
  • Removing your smoking clothes and washing your hands before coming inside or holding your baby

If you need support to quit smoking, talk to your health care provider about Nicotine Replacement Therapy such as gum, lozenges or inhalers.

Breastfeeding & Cannabis

Is it safe? There is very little information or research about cannabis use, pregnancy and breastfeeding. It is important for families to make informed decisions around cannabis use and the potential harmful effects on their children.


Perinatal and the Early Years


Women and Cannabis


Waterloo Region Integrated Drugs Strategy
 (external link)

Photo of a group of mothers babywearing their infants and smiling. Text Reads