Detox While Breastfeeding? Nine things you can (and should) do (and so should everyone else)

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I never realized what a detox junkie I am until I got pregnant and couldn’t detox.

Thankfully I had done a deep cleanse just a couple of months before getting pregnant, but once we had conceived, my focus was on deep nourishment and a “building” diet– lots of good fats, healthy meats, nutrient-dense bone broths, and cultured foods. Of course I ate my fair share of veggies and did a lot of juicing as well, but my primary focus was on foods that build: healthy fats and proteins.

None of this changed when Sia was born. Breastfeeding is no small job and takes a lot out of you on every level. And as any breastfeeding mama knows, it’s not the time to cleanse. For one, you don’t have the energy for it. More importantly, the last thing you want to do is mobilize toxins that could end up in your breast milk and thus in your baby.

Depending on how long you breastfeed, this could mean you don’t have the opportunity for a deep detox for a long time. My daughter just turned 13 months a couple of weeks ago, and we’re nowhere close to weaning. I expect we’ll go up to at least her 2nd birthday. When you add the months of pregnancy into that total, we’re getting close to three years without a detox. I started itching to “clean house” many months ago.

A few important things to know about detoxing:

  • Your body is always detoxifying. This isn’t something it only does on a juice fast. Everything from the hormones your body naturally produces, to the supplements you take, to any toxins in your food and environment… Every moment of every day your body is cleaning house. It’s just not doing it on an extremely deep level. Think of it like the day-to-day housekeeping you do versus the deep spring cleaning you only do once or twice a year.
  • One of the most important things you can do to support your body’s everyday housekeeping efforts is to make sure your elimination pathways are running clear and smooth. Once those toxins have been dealt with by your body, you want them to have a speedy exit route. When you take out the kitchen trash you don’t want the hallway blocked with junk preventing you from taking the garbage outside. Just like you with your busy schedule, your body doesn’t always have the time to clean up those elimination pathways on top of everything else it’s got to do, so preventing that back up in the first place is the best strategy.
  • While you don’t want to do a deep cleaning when you’re still breastfeeding, what you can do is reduce the number of toxins that are going in on a regular basis (and thus reduce your toxic load) and support your elimination pathways to flow freely.
Detox While Breastfeeding? 9 things you can (and should) do - and so should everyone else |

Young woman breast feeding a baby — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Here are nine strategies you can safely use while breastfeeding to keep your inner house clean:

Screen shot 2013-08-27 at 9.50.33 PM 1) Make sure you’re digesting and eliminating well – In other words: ensure you’re pooping at least once daily. Your digestion is one of the primary vehicles for your body to eliminate toxins – both food waste and the toxins your liver has neutralized. Here’s the connection: your liver neutralizes toxins, which are excreted from the body in bile. The bile is stored in your gallbladder, where it waits until you’ve eaten a meal containing fat. When your digestive system senses fat is present, your gallbladder squirts the stored bile into the top of the small intestine, where it breaks down the fats and escorts toxins out of the body in your poop. Kinda cool, right?

{Interesting side bar totally not relevant to breastfeeding mamas: you know how if you’ve had one too many drinks you crave greasy food? Well, that’s your body’s natural and totally appropriate response to getting those toxins OUT in a hurry. Eating a meal high in fat will cause your gallbladder to squirt out bile to emulsify those fats, while at the same time conveniently removing those extra toxins from the alcohol out of your body.}

If pooping daily is something you struggle with – and please know that many breastfeeding mamas get constipated – then getting things moving should be a top priority. Try adding beets to your daily diet (beet kvass – a fermented beet drink – is an even better option) to help thin the bile flow. There are lots of natural strategies for getting things moving, but this gets more clinical so we’d recommend you work with a practitioner if what you’ve tried so far hasn’t worked.

Woman Drinking Water from a Glass 2) Make sure you’re well hydrated – Another key elimination vehicle is urine, and thus your kidneys. The best and easiest way to take care of your kidneys is to stay well hydrated. This is especially important (and difficult) to do when you’re breastfeeding and losing so much of your liquid through your breast milk. My strategy is to drink 8-12oz of water every time I breastfeed in addition to sipping water throughout the day. Try adding a pinch of unrefined sea salt to your water to add electrolytes for better absorption. Also, staying really well hydrated will help you poop and makes everything in your body run more smoothly. If you only do one thing on this list, get hydrated.

dry brush 3) Keep your skin clear – Many don’t realize that our skin is a major detoxifying organ. Lots of stuff leaves our body via sweat, which means it’s a good thing to get sweaty. You can do this through good old fashioned daily exercise, or you can take a hot Epsom salt bath. I’d be careful with saunas and hot tubs – they’re obviously off limits when you’re pregnant, but even when you’re breastfeeding they can mobilize more of those toxins than you’d like.

Another way to keep your skin clear is a technique called dry brushing. This is where you use a skin brush with natural bristles (like this one) on dry skin before showering. I emphasize dry skin because it really doesn’t work on wet skin and can actually pull or tear the skin, and you want to do this before showering so you can wash off all that dead skin the brush stirs up. Start at your extremities (hands and feet) and move in strong swift strokes up to your torso, always moving in the direction of your heart. Your skin will be a little pink, but not red. It’s not super comfy at first but you’ll get used it and it actually starts to feel really good over time. Not only will this help your skin breathe and eliminate toxins more easily, you will look and feel amazing!

4) Keep that lymph flowing – a side benefit of skin brushing and exercise is that you keep your lymph flowing. Lymph is the fluid of your immune system, another important element of your detoxification system, and it circulates through the body in a system that parallels your main circulatory system (your blood). The difference is that your lymph doesn’t have the benefit of a heart pumping to move it around – it depends on your movement.

The best way to get your lymph moving is to bounce: skip rope, do some jumping jacks, go for a jog, jump on a rebounder or trampoline – do anything that has gravity and requires you to bounce. Runners have excellent lymphatic flow because they do all that bouncing and they’re also pumping their arms at the same time, stimulating lymph flow in the nodes in their armpits. Time to break out the baby jogger?

meditate 5) Deep breathing – Our lungs are an often-neglected detoxification organ, but with every exhale we’re ridding our body of toxins. Exercise can do the trick, or try some restorative yoga and focus on deep, cleansing ujjayi breaths. Never under-estimate the power of breath. It is life giving and can be an amazing tool if you harness its power and breathe with intention and awareness.

6) Oil pulling – Your mouth is big source of toxins and bacteria. Oil pulling is an ancient ayurvedic technique based on the principle that toxins and bacteria are attracted to oil.

Here’s how it works: first thing in the morning (ideally before you’ve brushed your teeth or eaten any food) you take a spoonful of good quality oil (I prefer coconut oil but any good quality oil will do) and swish it around your mouth for a good 20-30 minutes. As you swish, toxins and bacteria that are in your mouth get pulled into the oil. You might find that your nose starts running. When you’re done, spit the oil into the garbage. DO NOT SWALLOW IT!! as it’s loaded with toxins, and don’t spit it in the sink as it will clog it. You can then rinse your mouth with some warm salt water, brush your teeth, and proceed with your day as usual.

If you do this regularly you’ll notice over time that your teeth get whiter, feel cleaner, and your breath is fresher. By removing the burden of extra toxins and bacteria in your mouth, you’re freeing up your immune system and other detoxification organs to attend to other business in your body.

7) Reduce the number of toxins going in through your diet – Last but certainly not least is what you’re putting into your body. This is a time to be really mindful of how you nourish yourself and your baby. A diet filled with nutrient-dense whole foods is paramount. Steer clear of processed or “faux” health foods (you know – those “health” foods that you couldn’t grow or cook yourself and that come in fancy packaging with all sorts of health promises on it). The more homemade, the better. This is precious time in your baby’s life that you won’t get back. Deep nourishment for both of you is a top priority.

The one nutrient-dense real food cleanse you can do while breastfeeding is our Sugar Control Detox. We don’t recommend you try it until your baby is at least three months old, but it’s less of a cleanse and more of a deep commitment to eating exclusively nutrient-dense whole foods. And, of course, we take out any and all forms of sugar (and foods that convert to sugar in the blood quickly) in the process. Many breastfeeding mamas (including myself) have done this protocol with great success. It’s a great way to ensure you’re eating only the highest quality real food, and conveniently it eliminates a lot of the foods that contribute to colicky behavior in babies (like gluten and dairy) so your baby will love it, too. Oh yeah, and it’s an excellent and safe way to get rid of those last few stubborn pounds of baby weight.

8) Eat more veggies. Most of us don’t eat enough vegetables (even, ironically, many vegetarians!) and it’s a rare person I don’t have to overtly cajole into increasing their intake. Vegetables are very cleansing and jam-packed with micronutrients, antioxidants, fiber and flavanoids your body needs to thrive. Your goal should be 2-4 cups of vegetables per mealSee, I told you you’re not eating enough.

This guideline comes from Dr. Terry Wahls, author of The Wahls Protocol (exceptional book on healing autoimmune disease through food), who reversed her severe Multiple Sclerosis through diet and lifestyle changes that included this significant intake of vegetables and fruits.

If you’re thinking “how on earth am I going to eat that many vegetables?” here’s a way to divide it up so that you’re getting a good diversity and not eating the same thing over and over again. At each meal, strive for:

  • 1 cup of dark leafy greens (lots to choose from here: spinach, kale, collards, mustard greens, swiss chard, arugula, watercress, etc)
  • 1 cup of brightly colored fruits vegetables (beets, carrots, berries, eggplant, olives, tomatoes, peppers, radishes, etc)
  • 1 cup of cruciferous, alliums, and/or mushrooms (cruciferous are vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, radishes, brussels sprouts; alliums are garlic, onions, leeks)

Eating so many vegetables will naturally displace other less-important things on your plate, most notably the starchy carbohydrates like grains, legumes and white potatoes, and will significantly increase your body’s cleansing potential without mobilizing toxins in a dangerous way.

9) Coffee enema. If you’re feeling brave, this is a lovely way to open up a key elimination pathway without mobilizing more toxins, making it safe to do while breastfeeding. It’s a big, controversial topic, which I wrote about here.

As an extra bonus, if you’d don’t know about low-intensity infrared saunas, then I highly recommend reading this. This particular infrared saunas is an excellent and safe way to detox at low temperatures even while breastfeeding. Learn more here.


Written by Margaret Floyd, NTP HHC CHFS


  1. Ray


    Is it safe to drink IASO detox tea while breastfeeding 5month old?

  2. MARIA



  3. Nadia


    I have been doing coffee enemas a couple times now I the past week. I started to because my liver needs help. Every time After I eat a meal, I get real dizzy and hot for a bit. I read up that it’s the liver overloaded and it’s working really hard, hence the heat. Plus I’m constipated. I go about every 3-4 days if not longer. I m breastfeeding a 2 month old.
    So coffee enemas still okay for me??

    • Nadia – you might start with an enema that has probiotics in it rather than the coffee enema to loosen things up. Also, make sure you’re doing all the things in this article to help with constipation. You want to make sure those toxins have an easy exit out of the body.

  4. Ashlee


    I am nursing a 22lb 6 month old but am having some issues with bile and stomach acid would it be safe to use beet flow (the green tops of beets) as well as hcl to help get things moving or would this be too much?

    • That should be fine, Ashlee. You can also try beet kvass. That’s a really good way to get things moving – it’s so therapeutic for the gallbladder.

  5. Ari


    Breastfeeding a 9 month old. I have recently given up meat(more like I completely lost all desire for it). Now I’m eating a lot more veggies & fruits. Is it safe to consume a carrot/pear/cabbage “detoxifying” drink? I am drinking a lot more water as well.

    • It’s fine to drink that kind of drink as long as you’re still getting sufficient fat and protein to sustain you. If that’s all you were consuming, it would not be safe.

  6. CATARINA Avila


    I plan on doing a 7 day detox comprised of juices, smoothies and soups-all clean. I have a 4 month old that Im breastfeeding. This should be fine, right?

    • As long as those soups have protein and good fats in them, then yes, but if not then save it for after you’ve weaned.

  7. Billie-Di


    Excellent article, thanks for compiling it.

  8. Cynthia


    I want to do a detox and digest cleanse with a 5 day meal plan. It’s through amazing grass. Do you think it’s ok while breastfeeding? My doctor said ok to the green powder itself.

    • I don’t know that program, but I’d be leary of anything that’s pushing detox pathways while breastfeeding. It’s better to play it safe and wait until you’re done.

  9. Kelly


    Hi Margaret! I’m nursing a 5 month old (taking a break from my postnatal vitamin) and I started taking about 5-7 mg of liquid ionic zinc and I feel like my body is starting to detox it’s heavy metals. (Joint pain, brain fog, slight headaches, some anxiety, metal taste in mouth) Same symptoms I get after a deep massage. Should I stop taking it??? I don’t want my breast milk to have my metals/toxins in it!!! I do almost everything else on your list except enemas. I have several healthy bm’s every day. I also drink dandelion tea to support my liver. Would love your thoughts. Thank you!

    • Kelly, if you notice these symptoms after starting this (or any other supplement), then stop the supplement and see if those symptoms go away. That’s a very high dose zinc and just pushing one mineral can cause imbalance in the others. I’d stop it and see how you feel.

  10. Candace


    Hi Margaret, I’ve started drinking a detox water that’s all natural (oranges, grapefruit, mint, and strawberries for a bit of sweetness). I’ve read that peppermint can slow milk production, because of the menthol. However, I haven’t been able to find anything about the effects of fresh mint. Would you consider the mint along with these other ingredients to be safe? Thanks!

    • As long as you’re still eating otherwise, it should be fine. I certainly drank peppermint tea while nursing and it had no effect on my milk supply, but every body is a little different so just pay attention and go slowly.

  11. CandiceP


    How can you tell if the detox you’re doing will push toxins through breast milk? I started (only 1) doing the 10 day green smoothie clease by J Smith. I have a 3 month old and admittedly did not research this enough before starting. Can I continue the clease and just modify by adding in more protein?

  12. Joan


    Im Nursing a 7moth old i buy detoxic Just Now i didn’t realize it’s its ok for me to take this medicine thank you

  13. Danielle


    Hi Margaret
    Thankyou this article is great.
    Definitely keen to increase my intake of vegetables. You mentioned they would eventually displace other things such as grains and I assume sugar and dairy etc which is fine… I’m just wondering about the detox effect this would have and is it ok as I know from past experience eliminating these things from my diet had a huge shift on my body but did give me detox ‘symptoms’.

    • Just increasing your veggie intake and decreasing grains/sugar/dairy shouldn’t push you into too much of a detox. It will mostly recalibrate your sugar handling (which is good) so you might feel a bit wonky for a few days, but it’s not necessarily due to a big detox. If you’re worried about it, do it in stages: start with increasing veggies and remove other things a bit at a time, starting with the sugar.

  14. haisba


    hi im breastfiding a 8 months old baby, is it ok to start a 7 day detox comprised of juices ?

  15. Quinn


    Please help I would like to detox by drink a detoxing tea made with roasted dandelion. Will that be safe while breastfeeding.

    • If it’s a tea that is to inspire detoxification, then I’d hold until you’ve finished breastfeeding.

  16. Tahmina


    Dear Margaret,

    I want to lose weight and beside this i have 4 Months baby and breastfeeding him. My question is this that can I drink detox of mint, Gegner, lemon, green tea and cinnamon ? Is this have any affect to the baby?

    Waiting for ur kind reply

    • You can drink the tea, but you want to make sure you’re not doing anything else like significantly restricting food intake or taking supplements that push detoxification.

  17. Jamie


    Hi Margaret,
    I am nursing an 18 month 20 pound baby. I am on day 3 of a detox diet. It’s juicing, lots of fruits , avocados, salads, but just brown rice and veg for dinner for the first 7 days. The detox is 21 day program and you slowly add in nuts, fish , meat and dairy. Is this safe?

  18. Pingback: Coconut Oil Cleanse: How to Do It (and When You Shouldn't)

  19. Kindal


    If I detox while breastfeeding we’ll all the bad toxins go through my milk to come out???

  20. Chelsea Hood


    I would caution against new mothers doing high impact exercises such as jogging and jumping as that puts a lot of pressure on the pelvic floor and can cause or worsen pelvic floor prolapse. For a gentle workout I would recommend Fit2Be.

  21. saado


    im breastfeeding a 3 months old and planning on feeding her till shes 2 yrs old. can i start drinking water with mint lemon and cucumber?

  22. Natalie


    I want to do a one day juice detox from a local juice bar… if I added protein into the plan will that be ok to do while i nurse my 9 month old?

    • It really depends on the detox and what’s is included in the juice… I’d lean to being on the safe side and just not doing it.

  23. Heather M


    I am 31 years old, breastfeeding a 15 month old, and TTCing baby #2. I suffer from chronic constipation and my recent Zyto scan showed parasites. I’m going to implement the tips above, but what type of enema should I try? I would hate to wean but should I give my body a break before baby #2 and do a complete detox?

    • I’d strongly encourage you to give your body a break between babies, do some GI stool testing, address any pathogens, and heal up that gut before having baby #2. It will only benefit you and the next baby long term.

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  25. Melissa


    Thanks for the great article. I am a cancer survivor of 8 years but I think it’s coming back. I want to do all natural treatment but I’m worried about the detoxing affect for my 9 month old. I’m not ready to wean, however I also don’t want to hold off on healing. I appreciate any thoughts you might have? Thanks

    • Hi Melissa,

      Thank you for sharing. I’m so sorry you’re in this situation. This is a really tough call. Honestly, you’re going to have to make some hard choices of your health or continuing to nurse. I know making a choice like this can be challenging.

      I’m not an expert by any means in working with cancer so I recommend you seek out the advise and support of someone that has extensive experience in this area. Just to in case you haven’t thought about it, I want to make sure you are aware that you can still give your child breast milk that you’ve pre-pumped. I wish you the best of luck.

  26. Advika


    Shall I have cucumber, coriander leaves, ginger juice while breastfeeding the 3 month old baby

    • Hi Advika, None of those are usually an issue when breastfeeding. Most of them are staples in many people’s diets. That said, it’s really up to the baby. I’ve seen many babies react to all types of foods. If there is any concern that the baby may react to these items, don’t eat them all at once or in large quantities. Maybe try one for a day and see if the baby has a reaction. Then wait a day or two before trying a different ingredient. I do recommend peeling the cucumber since the skins can sometimes be an issue for people. Congrats on your 3 month old! Wishing you all the best!

  27. Activated charcoal is specially treated charcoal which has some pores in it which can soak in anything it encounters. It acts as a sponge and takes in everything. This property is known as adsorption and has been used since olden times to cure poisonings. The same concept can be used in pregnancy as well. Are activated charcoal pills safe during pregnancy, is a question most often enquired about and the answer is yes, it is safe if taken in a controlled amount.

  28. I am an exheroin addict who has about a year clean. I started on methadone maintenance at 4months pregnant and I am still on maintenance while nursing my 7month old son who was consiquentially had a low birth weight because of my poor choices the first few months i was unaware of my pregnancy . He is very healthy and growing beautifully, with no health issues but I wanted to know what affect the methadone may be having on him and what type of cleanse might potentially be beneficial or if I should actually even continue to breast fed despite my doctors beliefs since the breastfeeding benefits far out way the minute amouth of methadone is absorbed into breastmilk. I can’t help but to feel guilty for subjecting my infant to nursing from me. HELP!

    • I can understand your dilemma – it’s an extremely personal decision and ultimately only one you can make. I’m not an expert in that drug so I really don’t know its impact or how much of it gets through to the baby via breastmilk. From what I can see from the drug information I’ve read, it’s not going to affect the baby much at all and so I’d feel comfortable continuing to nurse him, especially given your doctor’s recommendations. We know the benefits of nursing are enormous. Also, I’m sure it’s easy to be hard on yourself about past choices, but remember that this beautiful little baby boy chose you for a reason — and babies are surprisingly resilient! Your concern shows what a good and loving mother you are!

  29. Kathy


    Can I drink parsley, lemon and cucumber while breastfeeding? My baby is 10 months.

    • Yes, absolutely you can, as long as you’re also eating as well. This drink alone won’t push your detox pathways excessively.

  30. Ally


    I want to do a 12 day smoothie slim detox and I still breastfeed my 28 month old 24 pound baby is it safe to do this detox even though I’m still breastfeeding ?

    • Hi Ally – I strongly encourage you to wait on this detox until you’ve finished breastfeeding. A smoothie-only detox can certainly mobilize toxins that will dump into the breastmilk and affect the baby.

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