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What to avoid when breastfeeding

07 April 2021 Blog
Our breastfeeding guides help you prepare for your breastfeeding journey as well as providing helpful tips for getting started or managing any issues.

Are you lost in the minefield of what to eat and the things to avoid when you are breastfeeding?

Everyone is willing to offer advice, but the truth is, eating a balanced diet is best.

Having said that, there are some foods and drinks that can affect your breast milk. These foods and drinks can alter the taste, smell or colour of the milk you produce which may make your baby refuse the breast at times. 

If your baby shows signs of restlessness or discomfort after breastfeeding, there may be something in your diet that disagrees with them.

If you can identify the food, you can try removing it from your diet and see if there is an improvement after a few days. If not, contact your family doctor for advice.


Your baby is not able to process caffeine as quickly and easily as you can. So, you may end up with a very restless and unsettled infant if too much is passed on to them.

One to two cups of coffee, (or similar) per day are fine when breastfeeding. But it is a good idea to space out the time between your cuppa and your baby’s next feed.


The safest option when breastfeeding is to avoid drinking. Any alcohol you do consume while you are breastfeeding as alcohol passes readily into breastmilk.

If you do drink alcohol limit the amount to one standard drink just after a breastfeed and only once or twice a week. This will allow the alcohol to be broken down by your body before the next breastfeed.

Planning ahead and expressing some milk before you have a drink, means your baby can feed while you wait for the alcohol in your system to pass.

You can download the Feed Safe app to help you estimate when it is safe to breastfeed after consuming alcohol. The app was created through a collaboration between the Australian Breastfeeding Association, Reach Health Promotion Innovations, and Curtin University.


It is not advisable to smoke when breastfeeding. If you do choose to smoke at this time, do so away from your baby and straight after a feed so the smoke has left your body before your baby feeds again.

Your breastmilk contains immunity-boosting qualities. If you are a smoker, it is better to continue breastfeeding rather than giving your baby formula.

Babies exposed to cigarette smoke have a higher risk of respiratory problems such as asthma and greater risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The antibodies in your breast milk can help protect them from getting sick.

Michelle Luxford - Nurse manager and midwife

Michelle Luxford is a nurse manager, registered midwife, lactation consultant and clinical nurse educator at Hawkesbury District Health Service. She has worked as a midwife for almost 30 years and has a particular interest in breastfeeding and caring for women and their newborns.