Been counting down the days the end of pregnancy to finally pop a bottle of your fav rosé and celebrate? But you might be wondering, is it safe to drink alcohol while breastfeeding, we have your answer.
There’s a lot of misinformation about consuming alcohol while breastfeeding that gets moms asking is it safe to drink alcohol while breastfeeding. Most breastfeeding moms wonder:
Can I drink at all? Should I pump and dump? Could it harm my baby?
Reasonable questions, and I’m here to give you some answers.
The general rule I use and many moms recommend is simple. If you’re sober enough to drive, you’re sober enough to breastfeed. But why?
Let’s dive into the research.
(Just as quick disclaimer that you can always check with your medical providers, though an IBCLC would probably be the most knowledgable on the subject. I am not a doctor and this is just my personal opinion based on my research and experience breastfeeding three babies.)
How much alcohol can transfer to breastmilk?
According to Kelly Mom, less than 2% of alcohol consumed by a mom reaches her bloodstream and her milk. The alcohol enters and leaves your breastmilk at the same rate it enters and leaves your blood.
But even if you’ve been drinking pretty heavily, the concern about breastfeeding while drunk is really more about whether you’re in a proper state to be parenting at the moment vs. the alcohol that you could be passing to your baby. The amount of alcohol that actually gets into your baby’s bloodstream is pretty minute.
A Slate article breaks down the math for us. They figured if a 150-pound mom drinks 4 glasses of wine and then breastfeeds a 13-pound baby while she is at her drunkest point, her baby’s blood alcohol level would be 0.0038 percent. That equals about the same amount that would be in the mother’s bloodstream if she drank 1.5oz of Bud Light.
They point out that there are actually higher concentrations of alcohol in some fruit juices, due to fermentation than in the breastmilk of a tipsy mom.
To pump and dump or not?
The only reason to pump and dump or even pump and save your milk would be for your comfort or to keep up supply while you might be away from the baby.
Because alcohol leaves your milk at the same rate that it leaves your blood, all the milk you produce while you are still feeling the effects of alcohol, or have alcohol in your blood, will still be present in the milk.
But that alcohol will leave the milk as it leaves your bloodstream. So just waiting it out is the only way to ensure there isn’t any alcohol in your milk if you are worried about that.
Reasons to worry about drinking and breastfeeding
A couple of things to keep in mind.
One factor to keep in mind when wondering is it safe to drink alcohol while breastfeeding is the age of your baby. A newborn doesn’t have as mature of a liver and has a harder time breaking down alcohol. So if your baby is teeny or maybe premature and you have reason to believe that could be less tolerant of anything in your breastmilk, you can always be extra cautious and steer clear.
The other thing to think about is basically whether you’re drunk. Are you too drunk to be parenting? If you are, then you should probably steer clear of breastfeeding as well because you just aren’t clear or coherent enough to care for a baby.
That’s the reason most stick to the advice that if you’re sober enough to drive you can breastfeed. If you can drive then you are certainly sober enough to parent and feed your child. Plus, if you do have any lingering concerns over the alcohol transferring to your milk, then sticking to just one or two drinks can help ease your mind.
And just a reminder, if you a pregnant, alcohol goes directly to the baby and isn’t filtered out through the milk. Big difference there. As to whether it is ok for pregnant women to occasionally indulge is another topic, but chugging down four glasses of wine surely wouldn’t be a great idea during pregnancy.
So, is it safe to drink alcohol while breastfeeding? The conclusion.
The bottom line is, it is ok to indulge moderately and still breastfeed your baby.
If you want to be cautious, just wait until you sober up a bit before nursing. No need to pump and dump unless you’re away from baby and need to for your own comfort.
Of course, I am not a doctor and always advise moms to do their own research and/or talk to their pediatrician. For me personally, I have drunk alcohol while breastfeeding all three of my babies with no ill effects.
While the recommendations seem a bit mixed based on who you ask, the question of is it safe to drink alcohol while breastfeeding is settled in my mind. The answer is… mostly yes. If you can drive, you can nurse.
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