Breast milk is the best food for babies in the first year of life. It helps your baby grow healthy and strong. Here are some ways to keep your breastmilk safe and healthy for your baby:

  • Eat healthy foods and take a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin each day to make sure your breast milk is full of nutrients for your baby:
    • Nutrients in foods and drinks help make your breast milk healthy. When you’re breastfeeding, eat healthy foods, like fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads and lean meats. Eat fewer sweets and salty snacks. You may need 450 to 500 extra calories a day when you’re breastfeeding to make breast milk for your baby.Drink lots of water. It’s important to stay hydrated (have fluid in your body) when you’re breastfeeding. Drink when you’re thirsty. A simple way to make sure you drink enough water is to have a glass each time you breastfeed.

      Limit caffeine when you’re breastfeeding. Caffeine is a drug that’s found in things like coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, chocolate and some energy drinks and medicines. Too much caffeine in breast milk can make your baby fussy or have trouble sleeping. If you drink coffee, have no more than two cups a day while you’re breastfeeding.

    • While food is the best source of nutrients, even if you eat healthy foods every day, you might not be getting all the nutrients you need. So you could use a little help from supplements. A supplement is a product you take to make up for certain nutrients that you don’t get enough of in food. For example, you may take a vitamin supplement to help you get more vitamin B or C. Or you may take an iron or calcium supplement.When you’re breastfeeding, take a multivitamin every day or keep taking your prenatal vitamin. A multivitamin contains many vitamins (like vitamins B and C and folic acid) and minerals (like iron and calcium) that help your body stay healthy. A prenatal vitamin is a vitamin made for pregnant women. Don’t take any vitamin or supplement without talking to your provider first.
  • Don’t harmful things, like alcohol, drugs and lead, to your baby through your breast milk. This can cause serious problems for your baby.
    • Don’t drink alcohol when you’re breastfeeding. Alcohol includes beer, wine, wine coolers and liquor. If you do drink alcohol, don’t have more than two drinks a week. Wait at least 2 hours after each drink before you breastfeed.You also can pass street drugs, like heroin and cocaine, to your baby through breast milk. Tell your health care provider if you need help to quit using street drugs.

      If you’re breastfeeding, don’t use marijuana. It’s not safe for your baby. You may pass THC and other chemicals from marijuana to your baby through breast milk. If you breastfeed your baby and smoke marijuana, your baby may be at increased risk for problems with brain development. Marijuana also may affect the amount and quality of breast milk you make. Even if marijuana is legal to use in your state, don’t use it when you’re breastfeeding.

  • Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or use harmful drugs when you’re breastfeeding.
    • Don’t smoke if you’re breastfeeding. Nicotine is a drug found in cigarettes. It passes to your baby in breast milk and can cause problems, like:
      • Making your baby fussy
      • Making it hard for your baby to sleep
      • Reducing your milk supply so your baby may not get all the milk he needs

      Secondhand smoke also is bad for your baby. Secondhand smoke is smoke from someone else’s cigarette, cigar or pipe. It can cause lung and breathing problems. Babies of mothers who smoke are more likely than babies of non-smokers to die from sudden infant death syndrome (also called SIDS). SIDS is the unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year old.

      If you do smoke, it’s OK to breastfeed. But smoke as little as possible and don’t smoke around your baby.

  • If you take prescription medicines make sure to talk to your health care provider to make sure what you’re taking is safe for your baby during breastfeeding.
    • Here’s what you can do to make sure prescription medicine you take is safe for your baby when you’re breastfeeding:
      • Talk to your health care provider and your baby’s provider about breastfeeding before your baby is born. Tell each provider about any medicine you take. If you take a medicine that’s not safe for your baby, your provider may switch you to a safer one. Don’t start or stop taking any medicine during breastfeeding without talking to your providers first.
      • Make sure any provider who prescribes you medicine knows that you’re breastfeeding.
      • Check with your provider even if you take medicine that’s usually prescribed for your baby, like baby aspirin.
      • Tell your baby’s provider if your baby has any signs that may be a reaction to your medicine, like diarrhea, sleepiness, a change in eating or crying more than usual.

      If you have a chronic health condition and you plan to breastfeed, talk to your providers about how your condition affects breastfeeding. You most likely can breastfeed even with a chronic health condition. Your provider can help you make sure that any medicine you take is safe for your baby. A chronic health condition is one that lasts for 1 year or more. It needs ongoing medical care and can limit a person’s usual activities and affect daily life.

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