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Drinking and Breastfeeding

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Last winter I was still breastfeeding our younger son. So when New Year’s eve rolled around, I started to wonder about alcohol and breastfeeding. Just how much can a mom drink when she’s breastfeeding? I wasn’t planning to hit the bottle to ring in the New Year …I’m a bit of a light-weight…but still, I was curious.
This year of course, even though the babe is off the boob, we’re planning a married-with-kids version of hitting the town. One bottle of champagne and a living room window with a view of the New York City fireworks, and even a distant Times Square. Very glamorous.
Anyway…here’s the main information about drinking and breastfeeding from last year’s post:
After a bit of research, I’ve found that as with anything mommy related, there are differing, and sometimes conflicting, opinions about alcohol and breastfeeding.
But from numerous reputable sources, it seems that bottom line, alcohol in small amounts is ok. One to two drinks per week is fine. You might want to feed your baby before you have a drink, and then wait 2 to 3 hours after drinking before feeding again. Also, there’s no need to “pump and dump.” As the alcohol leaves your bloodstream, it also leaves your breast milk. So sober up, and your boobs will be set to go. If it makes you feel better, give your baby a bottle of expressed milk in the meantime.
Here’s a bit of information from
In general, if you are sober enough to drive, you are sober enough to breastfeed. Less than 2% of the alcohol consumed by the mother reaches her blood and milk. Alcohol peaks in mom’s blood and milk approximately 1/2-1 hour after drinking (but there is considerable variation from person to person, depending upon how much food was eaten in the same time period, mom’s body weight and percentage of body fat, etc.). Alcohol does not accumulate in breastmilk, but leaves the milk as it leaves the blood; so when your blood alcohol levels are back down, so are your milk alcohol levels.
Always keep in mind the baby’s age when considering the effect of alcohol. A newborn has a very immature liver, so minute amounts of alcohol would be more of a burden. Up until around 3 months of age, infants detoxify alcohol at around half the rate of an adult. An older baby or toddler can metabolize the alcohol more quickly.

La Leche League also says that the occasional drink is ok, but excessive drinking is not.
Alcohol abuse (excessive drinking) by the mother can result in slow weight gain or failure to thrive in her baby. The let-down of a mother who abuses alcohol may be affected by her alcohol consumption, and she may not breastfeed enough. The baby may sleep through breastfeedings, or may not suck effectively leading to decreased milk intake. The baby may even suffer from delayed motor development. If you are concerned that you or someone you know is drinking alcohol excessively, call your doctor.
At least one organization, the March of Dimes says you should avoid alcohol while breast feeding.
Small amounts of alcohol do get into breast milk and are passed on to the baby. One study found that the breastfed babies of women who had one or more drinks a day were a little slower in acquiring motor skills (such as crawling and walking) than babies who had not been exposed to alcohol. Large amounts of alcohol may also interfere with ejection of milk from the breast. For these reasons, the March of Dimes recommends that women abstain from alcohol while they are nursing.
So, what’s a mom to do? Use caution if you plan to get your party on this New Year’s Eve. If you want a drink or two, it seems you can go for it. You deserve to celebrate your parenting successes of the past year. Just remember, you may still have to get up in the middle of the night to feed your baby. So make sure you’ll be sober enough to safely care for her. And don’t forget, if you have an early bird, she’s not going to give you the day off from work.

One Response to “Drinking and Breastfeeding”

I’m allergic to many alcohols. That said, I did have a small glass of champagne on our anniversary and a small glass of wine on Christmas Eve. I never even felt the effect of the alcohol. Our lactation consultant said that a glass was fine and so, a glass it was!

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