Can I Drink Alcohol While Breastfeeding?

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During your nine months of pregnancy, you may be counting down the days until you can finally have your favorite Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. The faint memorable smell and taste of your favorite wine or alcoholic drink may be such an exciting thought for when you are done being pregnant. But wait? Can you drink alcohol if you plan to breastfeed?

After having a list of forbidden foods, drinks, and medications during pregnancy, it is sometimes hard to adjust to the idea that there is more freedom on the other side of delivery!

Sometimes parents want to toast with champagne in the delivery room, or moms are wanting to imbibe at a holiday party, or simply wanting a cold drink at the end of a long day and that is okay. We all have been in the place of wanting to wine and dine or just have a relaxing bath with a yummy drink in hand.

The general rule of thumb is, if you can drive, you can breastfeed. Having your one drink right after your breastfeeding or pumping session is the safest option.

We also want to point out that while you are fine to have an occasional drink, keep in mind that between avoiding alcohol for 9 months and metabolizing things differently in the postpartum period, you may find that one drink goes a lot further than it used to.

What do the studies say about drinking while breastfeeding?

The CDC recommends breastfeeding mothers to not drink alcohol, they also state that a breastfeeding mother who have one drink, has not shown to have any harmful effects on your baby.

There also have been some studies that show a negative impact when moms drink alcohol while breastfeeding. A study in 2018 showed that children of mothers who drank alcohol while breastfeeding, had lower cognitive scores between the ages of six and seven. There are also studies that show a mother’s milk supply can decrease as much as 23% after having an alcoholic drink. Infants under 3 months of age will not metabolize alcohol as well as older infants or nursing toddlers. It may be best to keep your alcohol drinking to a minimum until your baby is a little older.

If you do want to relax and unwind with an alcoholic drink while breastfeeding, we have a few suggestions that you may find helpful.

If you choose to have a drink while breastfeeding:

Consume your alcohol with food and water.

Take it   s l o w l y.

Start with a lower alcohol percentage drink. 5%-6% would be a good starting point to see how that amount affect you and baby.

While you don’t need alcohol-testing strips for your milk, you do need to proceed with a little caution when drinking as a breastfeeding mom.

If you’re with your baby, it’s best to have your drink during or immediately after a breastfeeding or pumping session. That is because it takes about two hours after one drink for the alcohol concentration in your milk to peak and then start to go back down.

Do you need to Pump and Dump after drinking?

Alcohol levels in milk are proportionately reflective of alcohol levels in the blood, which means alcohol doesn’t accumulate and stick around in your breastmilk. This is why pumping and dumping won’t actually do anything to immediately lower the amount of alcohol in your milk, but will simply provide physical comfort for mom if it’s been a while since the last milk removal session.

With everything in life, do your best to weight the pros and cons of drinking alcohol while you are breastfeeding. Trust your mothers instinct. If you do choose to have an occasional drink, make it a delicious one!

For additional information, and for those who like to crunch the nitty gritty numbers in terms of alcohol concentration in breastmilk, you can read more at La Leche League. or Kelly Mom

If you would like to ask specific questions about your breastfeeding relationship please contact us. We have an amazing team of Lactation Consultants and Counselors to help you along your journey.

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