Alcohol is actually considered to be “compatible with breastfeeding." The American Academy of Paediatrics states that one drink per day is okay while breastfeeding. Most mothers decide to stop breastfeeding altogether, because of the occasional drink, and this is not necessary.
A glass of wine will take about 3 hours to leave a mother’s bloodstream. A higher alcohol content drink can take up to 13 hours to leave the system.
The Affects on Baby when Mom Drinks Alcohol
The baby may consume less milk, because of the taste change in the milk.
The baby may fall asleep faster, but wake up more often.
If the mother drinks more than 2 drinks per day:
Her baby may become drowsy.
Her baby may sleep deeper than usual.
There may be a decrease in growth.
Her baby may show abnormal weight gain.
Her baby may show poor motor development.
Drinking alcohol can decrease the flow of a mother's milk and may even prevent a "let-down" of milk from occurring.
Caffeine and Breastfeeding
Caffeine is not passed into the breast milk easily, only 0.6 to 1.5% of the amount of caffeine that the mother gets, passes into the milk.
It takes longer for caffeine to leave a newborn or premature baby’s system and some babies are more sensitive to caffeine than others. The effects of caffeine decrease as the baby grows.
The moderate amount of caffeine that is considered safe is three cups per day. If the mother drinks more than this, she might notice:
Her baby becomes irritable.
Her baby starts to sleep less.
Her baby becomes jittery.
If you are not sure if it is the caffeine that is causing the issue, you can eliminate coffee from your diet for 3 weeks, to see if the symptoms disappear.
So how much, is too much, really?
It is not just coffee that contains caffeine, products such as gassy cool drinks, chocolate, tea, energy drinks, some brands of ice cream and even gum contain caffeine. It is advised that a mother does not consume more than 500mg of caffeine per day. You should still watch your baby for signs that the caffeine is affecting him/her.
Nicotine (smoking cigarettes)
Should a mother stop breastfeeding, if she smokes? No! The protection that breast milk offers outweighs the risks of smoking while breastfeeding. Breast milk protects your baby against second-hand smoke too. Your baby will have no protection against second-hand smoke if you decide to formula feed him/her.
There are still risks of smoking while breastfeeding, these include:
Amphetamine (Speed, crystal meth, ecstasy, chalk ice, methamphetamine,
E): A baby will become irritable, have poor sleeping patterns and
anorexia. Amphetamines are sometimes put in prescription medications.
Breastfeeding should be stopped for 48 hours after this drug has been
Cocaine (Base, Blow, Charlie, Coke, Crack, Nose candy):
Baby may experience irritability, spitting up, diarrhea, tremors, and
seizures. Street drugs may be laced with other harmful substances too.
Do not breastfeed for 24 hours after cocaine use.
smack, diesel, gear, dog, horse, junk): Baby will experience tremors,
restlessness, vomiting, loss of appetite, poor weight gain. It could
also be laced with other dangerous substances. It is excreted into
breast milk in large amounts and can cause a baby to become addicted.
Breastfeeding should be stopped for 48 hours after using. Mothers who are
on methadone treatment, to get over a Heroin addiction, are
sometimes advised to stop breastfeeding for three months while taking
Phencyclidine (Angle dust, PCP, Ozone, Rocket
fuel): PCP has a long half-life and stays in a baby’s system for weeks.
Safe levels have not been researched, and the mother should avoid breastfeeding
When a mother takes any of these drugs, there is fear for the baby’s health, as well as the care for the baby since the mother's ability
to look after her baby is hampered. It is imperative that you seek a
substance abuse counselor if you have a problem with any of these