Nutrition, Alcohol Use, and Medications During Breastfeeding

This article covers the following topics:

What can I eat when I am breastfeeding?

When you’re breastfeeding, it’s safe to eat all your favourite healthy foods. It’s important to:

  • Take a multivitamin that has folic acid in it.
  • Follow Canada’s Food Guide.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Eat an additional 200 to 500 calories per day. That’s about an extra 2 to 3 food servings per day. 
  • Limit your caffeine intake to less than 300 mg per day, which is about 1 medium to large coffee.

Can I drink alcohol when I am breastfeeding?

During breastfeeding, it is best to avoid alcohol. Alcohol can decrease your letdown reflex and your milk supply. Also, alcohol is transferred through the breast milk and can affect your baby’s development.  If you do choose to have an alcoholic drink, wait at least two hours per drink before breastfeeding.

To learn more about alcohol and breastfeeding read this helpful pamphlet.

When I’m breastfeeding, what medication, including the birth control pill can I take?

Many medications are safe to take while breastfeeding. However, there are some medications that should be avoided.

For more information about the safety of medications while breastfeeding, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

If you use street drugs, talk to your health care professional about breastfeeding, as street drugs can be harmful to your baby.  Watch this video clip to learn more about the safety of medications and herbal products while breastfeeding.

For the birth control pill, it depends on the type of birth control pill you choose. The progestin-only birth control pill can be used with breastfeeding after your baby is 6 weeks old. Birth control pills that combine estrogen and progestin can affect your milk supply. The following birth control choices have no effect on breastfeeding:

  • Male and female condoms
  • Spermicides
  • Intra-Uterine Device (IUD)
  • Vasectomy
  • Tubal ligation
  • Mini pill
  • Depo Provera
  • Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM)

To learn more about breastfeeding and birth control, watch this video clip. You can also read this brochure about Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM).

For more information, please call our Healthy Families Hotline at 519-258-2146, ext. 1350.