Can I breastfeed if I drink alcohol?

can i breastfeed if i plan to drink alcohol? via lactation link

A common question we get in our community of breastfeeding mothers begins with “Can I breastfeed if….” And it’s no wonder! We are told to avoid everything from roller coasters to alcohol to X-rays while pregnant, and the conflicting recommendations about consumption of alcohol can carry over after birth when our body is still nourishing our little ones. You’ve waited 9 months (or maybe more) for a drink, but now you’ve started breastfeeding/pumping. So the question is “can I breastfeed if I have an alcoholic drink?”

A common question we get in our community of moms begins with “Can I breastfeed if….” And it’s no wonder! We are told to avoid everything…

Can I breastfeed if I plan to drink alcohol?

The short answer is yes when done with a few guidelines in mind and in moderate amounts.  The AAP (The American Academy of Pediatrics) Section on Breastfeeding recommends that breastfeeding women limit their amount of alcohol intake while breastfeeding. A “drink” for a person with the body weight of 60kg/ 130 lbs equals 2 oz liquor, 2 beers, or 8oz of wine. (To calculate alcohol consumption levels for you, it’s .5 grams of alcohol per kg of body weight).(1) Occasional alcohol use is just fine, but drinking large amounts or binge drinking isn’t recommended by healthcare professionals for lactating people.

You shouldn’t need to pump and dump or express milk when following the above guidelines as it does not reduce the level of alcohol in mother’s milk any faster. Just be sure to feed baby right before leaving home (to prevent engorgement) and consuming your alcohol fairly soon after arriving where you are going. This gives the alcohol time to work its way out before becoming reunited with baby so they can resume normal milk intake. Since milk is made from your blood, once your own blood alcohol level has gone down, so has your milk’s alcohol level.

can i breastfeed if i plan to drink alcohol? via lactation link

Ready to have an alcoholic beverage or two? Here’s a few more tips for you!

+ Isn’t beer a galactagogue (milk booster) that can help with less milk/ low milk supply? Beer or other alcohol is NOT recommended as a galactagogue. The effects of alcohol can actually inhibit the let-down reflex and your effect your oxytocin hormones, and have a negative effect on milk production. 

+ Remember not to bed share with your nursing baby after consuming alcohol. Alcohol reduces your awareness and bed sharing isn’t recommended if you’ve been drinking. 

+ If you do get drunk, be sure another adult can care for your baby’s needs and don’t resume breastfeeding until you are sober. 

can i drink alcohol if i plan to drink alcohol? via lactation link

So feel safe to enjoy that holiday eggnog, glass of wine or occasional drink, and return to breastfeeding a few hours later. Do you have any questions for us in this series? Let us know in the comments. Lots more info about how substances and food interact with breastmilk in my online confident breastfeeding courses. Need more one-on-one support? Book a consult with one of our lactation consultants.

Thanks for stopping by,

lindsey-headshot-white-with-grey

Lindsey Shipley, RN, IBCLC

Sources

  1. Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk. (2012, March). Pediatrics, 129(3), 842-856. Retrieved from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/3/e827