What You Can (and Can’t) Do, Use, and Take While Breastfeeding

woman breastfeeding baby

“The moment you decide to start trying to conceive, your body is no longer your own,” my best friend confided to me during a long walk. She had a baby; I did not.

What she meant by that is when you’re trying to conceive (TTC), you’re often wondering what tweaks you need to make to your diet and lifestyle to support conception. Perhaps that means cutting alcohol and coffee or choosing low-impact workouts. 

Some people may make no changes at all. Rather, their mindset alters. (“I could eat this sushi, but what if I am pregnant and don’t know it?”) There are a lot of what ifs.

Now that I am on the other side of having two children of my own (6 months, and 2.5 years old), I would like to add to that idea: “Until you stop breastfeeding, your body is no longer your own.” Because the what ifs don’t stop once the baby is out so long as you’re still providing milk for the little one. Everything you consume (wine, shrimp, allergy medicine) or use (hair dye) or get (Botox) or do (smoke weed, lose weight) could affect your milk quality and supply. 

You likely know the result of having all of these types of questions swimming around your mind: late-night Google sessions. (Because if you’re still nursing or pumping, you may not have a sleep-trained baby yet.) And as someone who has been there and is still there breastfeeding a baby, it can be challenging to find clear, expert-backed answers to all of the questions. 

Until you stop breastfeeding, your body is no longer your own. Because the what ifs don’t stop once the baby is out so long as you’re still providing milk for the little one.

So we combed through the research and asked the pros, including healthcare providers and lactation consultants, for advice what to do and ditch when breastfeeding. We’ll help you understand the safety of 39 different (but common!) topics when it comes to breast milk. 

Sometimes the answers are hard lines in the sand. For instance, dermatologists confirm you should not use retinol when breastfeeding, as it has been studied and proven to have negative effects on breast milk. And unexpected things are allowed; for instance, doctors say you can have one glass of wine while breastfeeding

Often, the answer falls in that gray space, in that it has not been studied, so we don’t know how it could affect breast milk. One example: it’s not totally clear whether you should get a gel manicure if you’re still nursing or pumping

In those cases, healthcare providers typically go on the conservative side and just say no. That said, it’s still important to do your own research to make informed decisions for yourself. Let us help you get there.

Whether you’re breastfeeding or pumping or both, this guide can provide you with thoroughly-researched information to make decisions. Considering having a beer at that brewery or taking migraine medicine while producing milk? Keep reading to learn what’s on and off the table during those lactation-filled months (or years!). 


Lauren Levinson
Editorial Director, Verywell Family

1 Source
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed) [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); 2006-. Tretinoin. [Updated 2021 Sep 20].

By Lauren Levinson
Lauren has 10+ years experience creating and managing content teams in the family, beauty, fashion, and lifestyle categories. As Verywell Family’s editorial director, she hopes to combine her creative ideas, editorial experience, and love for parenting to foster an engaged digital community.