Last updated on January 28th, 2020
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Alcohol and Breastfeeding – All Questions Answered

Is Breastfeeding and Alcohol Consumption Safe Together?

In moderation, yes.

Only about 2% of the alcohol that’s consumed ever reaches a breastfeeding mother’s milk. That means if you have a margarita that has 2 ounces of tequila in it, only 1/25 of an ounce (about a quarter of a teaspoon) will reach your milk. Additionally alcohol leaves the milk supply in the same way and in the same timeframe that it leaves the bloodstream.

Abstaining from alcohol is the only sure way to avoid passing alcohol to your breastfeeding baby, however a single drink, or possibly two, should have no negative effects provided you avoid breastfeeding when alcohol concentrations are highest in breast milk and you take into account baby’s age.

Basically if you are a responsible drinker and take some simple precautions, there is nothing wrong with enjoying the occasional glass of wine, beer or cocktail while breastfeeding. If you are not a responsible drinker, you should avoid all alcoholic beverages.

When Is Alcohol Strongest In Breast Milk?

For breastfeeding mothers, the concentration of alcohol is strongest in breast milk 60 to 90 minutes after the alcoholic beverage is consumed. This timeframe can be decreased by:

  • Consuming the alcoholic drink quickly
  • Drinking on an empty stomach
  • Below average body weight

The 60 to 90 minute timeframe can be increased by

  • Consuming the alcoholic drink slowly
  • Having the alcohol along with a lot of food
  • Above average body weight

To pass along the least amount of alcohol to your breastfeeding baby, it is best to avoid breastfeeding (or pumping) during this timeframe as much as possible.

What Is The Best Timing For Breastfeeding And Alcohol Consumption?

The best timing of breastfeeding is any time outside the 60 to 90 minute timeframe when alcohol concentration is greatest in breast milk. As odd as it may sound, one of the best times to breastfeed is while you are drinking the first alcoholic beverage. The alcohol will not have had enough time to reach your milk supply and breastfeeding now will fill baby so that baby will not need to breastfeed during the highest alcohol concentration timeframe.

Of course sipping a martini while breastfeeding is sure to get some questioning looks, but it is good timing.

What is an Easy Rule Of Thumb For Breastfeeding And Alcohol?

Because alcohol leaves breast milk at the same time that it leaves the bloodstream you can tell how much alcohol is in your breast milk by how you feel. If you feel sober and feel confident you could drive a bulldozer or car, then you are safe to resume breastfeeding.

What Is Moderation When It Comes To Breastfeeding And Alcohol?

The expert consensus is that moderation for the breastfeeding mother is no more than two alcohol drinks per day and no more than two days per week when alcohol is consumed.

Does The Type Of Alcohol Matter?

In general, there is no difference between hard alcohol and wines and beers. There is roughly the same amount of alcohol in one cocktail, one beer and one glass of wine.

Do You Have To “Pump And Dump” To Be Safe?

Provided you are drinking alcohol in moderation, no. Because only 2% of alcohol consumed ever reaches breast milk and because the body will naturally and automatically remove alcohol from breast milk it is never “contaminated.” Just be sure to wait until you feel sober, before resuming breastfeeding.

How Does Baby’s Age Affect Breastfeeding And Alcohol Consumption?

Baby’s are born with immature livers (the organ that removes alcohol from the body) and until baby is over three months old the baby can’t remove alcohol as quickly from its body as an adult can. Therefore be extra cautious with alcohol while the breastfeeding baby is younger than three months old.

What Are The Risks Of Alcohol Consumption When Breastfeeding?

Provided alcohol is consumed in moderation there are no significant risks to the breastfeeding mother or her baby. However if alcohol is not consumed in moderation there are many risks to baby and mother including, slow weight gain, lower milk production, developmental problems and delays, poor sleeping and so on.

Breastfeeding and alcohol can go together provided the mother is responsible and is knowledgeable about the factors in this article.

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