Breastfeeding: Food and Medications that Aren't Safe

A mom sits in a rocking chair while breastfeeding her baby.

As a new mom, you have a greater need to eat foods that can give you important vitamins and minerals when you’re breastfeeding. You also need to drink plenty of water and limit how many sugary drinks you consume.

However, there are certain foods that you should limit or avoid eating. 

It’s better to choose foods that have a low amount of “empty calories,” which are calories from solid fats and added sugars. Foods with empty calories include desserts, candy, ice cream, fried foods, hot dogs, biscuits and sweetened cereals, as well as soda and sugar-sweetened tea and fruit drinks.

Your healthy diet can include seafood such as salmon and sardines that are higher in beneficial Omega-3 fats. But you should avoid the following fish that have high levels of mercury: swordfish, king mackerel, shark and tilefish.

In rare cases, your doctor might advise you not to breastfeed for the following reasons:

  • If you take certain medicines that are dangerous for babies, such as anxiety medication or specific migraine medications
  • If you get radiation therapy (Depending on the therapy, you might resume breastfeeding after a short pause.)
  • If you have a specific illness, such as active tuberculosis or HIV

Before you begin breastfeeding, talk with your doctor if you have an illness or take medicine, and discuss the details of a healthy diet. If your baby has a reaction to your breastmilk and has symptoms like diarrhea, talk to your pediatrician.