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Breastfeeding and diet, alcohol and medication

Making breast milk burns around 500 calories per day, so make sure you eat regularly and that your diet is as healthy as possible. Some medication can affect your breast milk, but it's easy to check – just ask your doctor or pharmacist.

What can you eat and drink?

You can pretty much eat anything you want as a breastfeeding mum but there are a few of things to keep tabs on:

  • Caffeine: avoid large amounts as this may make your baby irritable.
  • Oily fish: eating fish is good for your health, but as fish may contain mercury it's recommended you don't eat more than two portions of oily fish a week if you are breastfeeding.
  • Vitamin D: you should take 10 mcg of vitamin D per day – speak to your midwife or health visitor about getting these free.
  • Water: remember to drink lots of water as breastfeeding can make you feel thirsty, but don't drink more than you need either.

Alcohol

If you're breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is the safest option for your baby's wellbeing and safety. Babies need you to be there for them and ready to feed around the clock, and drinking can make this much more difficult. We also know that alcohol can reduce how much milk you make. If you are having a night out or celebration, avoid drinking just before breastfeeding or express milk beforehand to give to your baby later. You can find out more about expressing here.

You can find out more about alcohol and breastfeeding at the Breastfeeding Network website.

How do I find out if I can breastfeed on my medication?

You can check the Drug Factsheets from the Breastfeeding Network for the latest advice on all medications, from migraine tablets to what you can take if you have flu or a toothache.

The Drugs in Breastmilk Information Service

You can get information on taking prescription drugs while breastfeeding by sending a private message to the Drugs in Breastmilk Information Service via Facbook or email druginformation@breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk.

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Last updated: 26 Feb, 2021