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How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Breast Milk?

A mother holds her baby’s hand.


We all know that you shouldn’t drink or do drugs while pregnant. Cocaine in particular is prone to make its way from a mother’s bloodstream into their breastmilk rather quickly whether by smiling, injecting, or snorting it.

But when it comes to breastfeeding, things may not seem so black and white. How long does cocaine stay in breast milk and, if so, what are the effects? How long do you have to wait to breastfeed after doing coke?

The Effects of Cocaine on a Breastfeeding Baby

The high associated with cocaine use is relatively short; however, it has been shown that the drug can remain in breastmilk for considerably longer. When it comes to nursing mothers, there will be more cocaine present in their breastmilk than in their blood after drug use.

Trace amounts of cocaine can even be found in a newborn’s urine more than one week after their mother used the drug.

The National Institute of Health has published a study indicating that cocaine passes from mother to infant in “meaningful amounts” and could cause “considerable harm.”

Newborns are extremely sensitive to cocaine since they lack the enzymes to break it down.

Cocaine exposure can cause many harmful effects on an infant including:

  • increased heart rate
  • increased blood pressure
  • extreme irritability
  • agitation
  • increased startle reflex
  • choking
  • vomiting
  • dilated pupils

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How Long Do You Have to Wait to Breastfeed After Doing Coke?

In some circumstances, mothers who have used cocaine in the past, though are not currently using, can safely breastfeed their child.

Obviously, the best choice is to completely abstain from cocaine. If you do use once in a while, however, the recommendation is to wait at least 24 hours before breastfeeding. In the meantime, you should “pump and dump” and feed your baby formula or breast milk that was expressed and stored when you were not using cocaine.

The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine goes so far as to recommend that women who have used cocaine should not breastfeed unless they have a negative maternal urine toxicology when they deliver their child and have abstained from cocaine for no less than 90 days.

Mothers who abuse cocaine on a regular basis are advised not to breastfeed at all and to seek help in a substance abuse treatment program.

One final word of caution: Cocaine should never be smoked when babies are around because they can be exposed to the drug just by breathing the smoke in the room.

The long-term use of cocaine can also have very serious adverse effects on a mother, including her ability to breastfeed. Cocaine abuse can impede the body’s ability to produce breastmilk by causing chronically low levels of prolactin, an important amino acid when it comes to lactation.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment at The Raleigh House

It’s true that cocaine is highly addictive, but recovery is possible and happens every day. When you come to The Raleigh House, our first goal is to make you feel safe and comfortable. You’re then assigned your own master’s level therapist who will work with you to come up with a plan that addresses the physical, psychological, mental, spiritual and social aspects of recovery.

The goal is not just to get off of cocaine. It’s to find your path to a healthy, fulfilling and rewarding life.

Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about the cocaine addiction treatment program at The Raleigh House.

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