colourful selection of fruit and vegetables

Healthy breastfeeding diet

The most important thing is to include a wide variety of fresh, healthy foods in your breastfeeding diet.

If you think something you're eating is affecting your baby through your breast milk, talk to your GP or health visitor, or call the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 100 0212.

Alcohol and breastfeeding

When you'e breastfeeding, traces of what you eat and drink pass through to your breast milk. And while it's safer not to drink alcohol, an occasional drink (i.e. 1 or 2 units, once or twice a week) is unlikely to harm your baby.

After drinking alcohol, how long should I wait to breastfeed?

On average, it takes about 2 to 3 hours for a glass of wine or beer to leave your system, so it's best to wait a few hours to breastfeed. Obviously the more you drink, the longer it takes. If your baby is under 3 months old, it will take them longer to process the alcohol, as their liver is still developing.

If you express before drinking alcohol, your baby can be bottle-fed with your breast milk. If you need to miss a feed, don't let your breasts become uncomfortably full as this can lead to mastitis. It's best to express your breast milk rather than be uncomfortable.

Did you know?

One unit of alcohol =
  • a small glass of wine (125ml)
  • half a pint of beer
  • single measure of a spirit (25ml)

Plan ahead

If you've been drinking, never sleep with your baby. There is a strong link between sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and alcohol. If you know that you're going to have a few drinks, arrange for another (sober) adult to look after your baby.

collection of beer bottles

Help and support

If you drink large amounts of alcohol regularly and you feel you need some help cutting down, there's lots of support available.

These tips on cutting down may be helpful, but if you'd rather talk to someone you can always speak to your midwife, doctor or pharmacist.

These counselling services also offer confidential help and support:

  • Drinkline – the free national alcohol helpline, call 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am to 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm).
  • We Are With You (formerly known as Addaction) – UK-wide treatment agency that helps individuals, families and communities manage the effects of alcohol and drug misuse.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) – a free self-help group. Its “12-step” programme involves getting sober with the help of regular support groups.
  • Your nearest alcohol support service.

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