Cannabis, Tobacco, and NRT while Breastfeeding


Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)



During pregnancy and breastfeeding, counselling is recommended as the first choice of treatment for quitting smoking.

If counselling does not work for you, the use of nicotine replacement therapies (such as lozenges, gum, and inhaler) is preferred over the use of the nicotine patch.

If you do use the patch and you are pregnant, remove it before bed to reduce the exposure of nicotine to the fetus.

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) should be avoided during the first trimester of pregnancy. If you are having trouble quitting on your own try NRT as directed by your health care provider.

What does Ottawa Public Health recommend?

  • That you try to quit smoking as soon as possible
  • Using NRT is better than smoking
  • Breastfeeding women are recommended to breastfeed before using NRT each time in order to minimize the exposure to the baby
  • When breastfeeding, keep using NRT for as long as you need it

Smoking while pregnant

Smoking during pregnancy is not healthy for you and can lead to:

  • Miscarriage
  • Going into labour too early
  • Your water may break too soon
  • Problems with placenta (with risks to mom and baby)
  • Increases your child's risk for:

    • Being born too small
    • Infections and other health problems
    • Behaviour and mental health problems (such as ADHD, autism, depression, learning problems)

Smoking during breastfeeding

Smoking during breastfeeding can expose you and your child to harmful chemicals and can lead to less or lower quality breast milk. If you continue to smoke, don't stop breastfeeding. There are still many more benefits from breastfeeding. Just make sure you smoke outside and away from the baby.

Nicotine Replacement


  • You and your baby avoid the 4,000 chemicals found in cigarette smoke
  • Help you with cravings and withdrawal symptoms
  • Doubles your chances or quitting smoking
  • Exposes you and your baby to less nicotine than cigarettes


There are no known risks compared to smoking

There are a number of resources to help you if you need it:

  • For information and support to pregnant and postpartum women, visit the Pregnets website
  • For free confidential information and advice on a number of topics- Ottawa Public Health Information Line: 613-580-6744 or by email
  • Smoker's Helpline 1-877-513-5333
  • Motherisk Helpline 1-877-327-4636
  • Prenatal classes online

Cannabis use while breastfeeding 

How can cannabis affect breastfeeding babies?

Cannabis is a plant that has hundreds of chemicals. Some of these chemicals are called cannabinoids, like THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is psychoactive, meaning it affects the way your brain thinks and feels.  No matter how cannabis is used, THC is absorbed and stored in breast milk. This means it can be passed to your baby through breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is the healthiest choice for baby and mom.  It is safest to stop using cannabis while breastfeeding. 

If you consume cannabis and need help to reduce your consumption or would like help quitting, you can:

For more information:

Do you have more questions?

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