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Breast Feeding

Digestion enquiry



How long does it take for food etc. to reach breast milk


Although there is some evidence that flavor/odor molecules from certain foods may pass into milk, maternal foods, fluids, medications, etc. do not reach a baby in the same form as when a mother consumed them. The foods eaten by the breastfeeding mother are digested by her body and broken down into more basic molecules or "active" ingredients, such as amino acids, sugar molecules, fatty acids, alcohol, etc., which then circulate in the maternal blood stream. Some of those nutrients then are "pulled" into the milk-making cells (alveoli) in the breast, which continuously take what they need from the mother`s blood stream to make human milk. The time it takes for different foods to be digested by a mother and the resulting nutrients or byproducts used by the breast for, or passed into, milk may vary by several hours.

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Response by:

Karen Kerkhoff Gromada, MSN, RN, IBCLC
Adjunct Clinical Instructor
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati