Can you drink alcohol while breastfeeding?
YES! Have your glass of wine or your martini! According to the CDC, moderate alcohol consumption (1-2 standard drinks) is not known to be harmful to baby. There is no need to pump & dump milk after drinking alcohol, other than for your comfort, as it does not speed the elimination of alcohol from your milk. You may have heard drinking a dark beer like Guinness will increase your milk supply. Like many old wives’ tales, there is a grain of truth there. The barley used to make beer contains a polysaccharide that increases prolactin production, which in turn stimulates breast milk production. However, alcohol on its own actually decreases milk production. When drinking more than 2 drinks, it may inhibit your milk let-down. Studies vary, but find anywhere from 2-6% of alcohol consumed will reach your milk. Alcohol peaks in your blood and milk approximately 1/2-1 hour after drinking (there is variation from person to person, based on how much food eaten, your body weight, % of body fat, etc.). It clears your body of a rate of 2-3 hours per drink. Alcohol does not accumulate in breast milk, but leaves the milk as it leaves the blood; so when your blood alcohol levels are back down, so are your milk alcohol levels: what you breathalyze, you breastalyze. In general, if you are sober enough to drive, you are sober enough to breastfeed. Daily and excessive alcohol consumption can cause drowsiness, deep sleep, and decreased weight gain in baby. Baby’s age plays a role in the effects of alcohol. A newborn has a very immature liver, so small amounts of alcohol are hard on their body. Up until around 3 months of age, infants detoxify alcohol at around half the rate of an adult. Older babies/toddlers can metabolize alcohol more quickly. You should not bed-share with your baby if you’ve had any alcohol as your reflexes will be affected. If you‘re drunk to the point of disorientation or vomiting, wait until you’re sober to breastfeed and ave someone who is not intoxicated care for your child(ren).
GraceFull IBCLC Julie Matheney // @lalactation