Breast Feeding Mothers: Go Easy on Smoking, Caffeine and Alcohol

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on October 4, 2010 · 0 comments

Give up smoking, drink no more than 3 cups of coffee a day, and do not take any drugs while you are breastfeeding—they can all affect your child’s health.

Infants of mothers who smoke are more likely to have colic and respiratory infections. So at the least cut back, smoke outside the home, limit smoky environments, and extend the time between your last cigarette and when you nurse.

Newborns move caffeine – found in coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks and some medications – through their body more slowly than grownups. Limit caffeine to no more than 300 milligrams a day, which is how much is in 3 cups of coffee. Less is better!

Alcohol is a problem when pregnant but the risks for breastfed babies are unclear. Some research suggests drinking while breastfeeding can harm a baby’s motor development, change sleep patterns and reduce appetite. Wisest choice is, don’t drink till we know more. If you do drink while nursing, feed the baby first before consuming alcohol and let at least 2 to 3 hours pass before nursing again.

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