Keeping breast milk safe
There are a few things you need to take into consideration if you are breastfeeding or pumping your breast milk, in addition to
avoiding alcohol while breastfeeding.
Consuming coffee, tea and caffeinated sodas in moderation is fine if you are breastfeeding or pumping. If you find that your baby is fussy or irritable when you consume a lot of caffeine (usually more than 5 caffeinates beverages per day) you should consider decreasing your consumption. Keep in mind that caffeine can be found in:
• Coffee and coffee-flavored products, like yogurt and ice cream
• Soft drinks
• Chocolate and chocolate products, such as syrup and hot cocoa
• Medications used for pain relief, migraines and colds
The amount of caffeine in different products varies as well, depending on how it was prepared and served (such as an espresso or latte beverage.) Make sure you check packaging for the number of milligrams of caffeine in one serving.
You probably knew during your pregnancy to avoid eating fish that contains high amounts of mercury such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. The same is true while you are breastfeeding. Including fish in your diet is a good way to get protein and healthy omega-3 fatty acids, so eat fish that contain less mercury, like canned light tuna, shrimp, salmon, Pollock and catfish.
Some prescription medicines, such as those to help you sleep, painkillers and drugs used to treat cancer or migraine headaches, aren’t safe to take while breastfeeding. Others, like certain kinds of birth control, may affect the amount of breast milk you make. Read our post on medications and breastfeeding and speak with your provider about any over-the-counter and prescriptions medications you are taking.
Certain medical conditions can make breastfeeding unsafe for your baby. These include:
• If your baby has galactosemia, a genetic condition where your baby can’t digest the sugar in breast milk.
• If you have HIV.
• If you have cancer and are getting treated with medicine or radiation.
• If you have human T-cell lymphotropic virus. This is a virus that can cause blood cancer and nerve problems.
• If you have untreated, active tuberculosis. This is an infection that mainly affects the lungs.
• If you have Ebola, a rare but very serious disease that can cause heavy bleeding, organ failure and death.
Smoking and street drugs
Don’t smoke. Nicotine, a drug found in cigarettes can pass to your baby through breast milk and make him fussy and have a hard time sleeping. It can also reduce your milk supply so your baby may not get the milk he needs.
Don’t take street drugs, like heroin and cocaine. You can pass these substances to your baby through breast milk.
Tell your provider if you need help to quit smoking or using street drugs.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you need support, read our article on how to receive help with breastfeeding.