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Breastfeeding ensures your baby has normal health, growth, and brain development. If you are using drugs or medications, it’s important to know how these can affect your milk or your baby.

Mothers are often told they can’t breastfeed while taking medication. Mostly this isn’t true, and formula feeding has risks. Before stopping breastfeeding, seek more information by contacting La Leche League South Africa. You can research the safety of medications at

The nicotine in your bloodstream increases the risk of early weaning and less milk production. Babies of smokers are at higher risk of colic and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
If you cannot stop smoking, it’s still safer for baby to be breastfed than formula fed.
Cut down on smoking and smoke right after breastfeeding instead of just before.

Alcohol quickly enters the mother’s bloodstream and also her milk, with many effects on both mother and baby. An occasional drink is not harmful, especially if baby is older than 8 weeks and breastfed more than two hours afterwards. Frequent alcohol use can lead to more crying, less milk intake and slower growth, and can affect how baby’s brain develops. Using alcohol can also affect how you care for your baby. Be aware that the more you drink, the longer it takes for the alcohol to leave your body.

Much of this drug passes into breast milk and is toxic for babies. The smoke from crack cocaine is also harmful for your baby. Mothers should wait for at least 24 hours after using cocaine or crack before breastfeeding.

There are very few studies about the effects of dagga. There is likely to be long-term harm to your baby’s brain. After heavy use, babies have dagga in their bodies for weeks. Mothers should not use dagga while they are breastfeeding.
If someone else in your home uses dagga, they should do it away from baby.

These drugs are very addictive and a growing problem in many countries. There is not a lot of information on how tik impacts baby’s development and health, but we know that it is linked to social problems, domestic violence, and lower rates of breastfeeding.
If you are a breastfeeding mother and have used tik, you should wait at least 48 hours before breastfeeding again or until methamphetamine does not show up in a urine test. You can express and discard your milk in the meantime to maintain milk production.
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