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  • Writer's pictureChardá Bell, IBCLC, CBE, CD

Alcohol & Breastfeeding - What are the rules?


Lately, I've read some concerning comments on my TikTok from people saying they got some poor advice from bad lactation consultants on this topic.

One said "my lactation consultant told me if you can find the baby, you can feed the baby"


Another said "Mine told me if I can drive I can breastfeed"


An entertaining one read "my LC told me I can drink while I feed my baby"


The concerning one said "mine told me that there are no rules and I could get hammered because literally nothing will pass to the milk"


Well, I'm just gonna give you my two cents all tea, all shade...because I earned this IBCLC title honey!


Some of y'all really miss that glass of wine after work happy hour or champagne during celebrations. As long as it don't control you, then you're good.



Here's my take on breastfeeding and drinking:

You can find the baby you can feed it, You can drive you can feed

This one gets on my last nerve...


I'm a daughter of a mother with alcoholism. I have also known many people in my life now, that have battled alcoholism. One thing I know for sure is that the first two comments don't always apply to all people. My mother was so highly functioning that I didn't find out that she was suffering from this disease until I was 36 and she was 62 on her death bed. Apparently she had been hiding it for years and none of us knew how long it had been happening until the doctors told us how bad off her organs were, they were all failing suddenly. She developed early onset dementia (wet brain) as a result but Thank God, she is alive and recovering in a sober living skilled nursing facility.


I tell you this to say, you can drive and find a baby while piss poor drunk. Unfortunately, many folks do it all the time with skill. My mom was running a restaurant for her blind boyfriend and driving to pick up my kids on an almost daily basis. I wouldn't have known she was drunk. So, she could find a baby or drive but her blood alcohol level was still through the roof.


You can't have a bunch of alcohol in your blood, so much that it can't get out, because then it can't get out of your milk either. This would mean that milk is not safe for a baby to consume. Pumping and dumping wouldn't even be advisable in that situation. It would be better to abstain from breastfeeding as it would be contraindicated for someone with alcoholism.


Drinking while you feed or pump

This one is borderline OK with me. Is it the safest option, no, can it be done safely, yea. I don't love this one but I'm here for it.


The scoop is, you gotta do it and finish your session before the alcohol starts to peak in your bloodstream. That means it would be at its highest concentration which increases risk.


Alcohol on an empty tummy peaks around 1 hour into drink. A little longer like, 1.5 - 2 hours. on a full tummy or with food.


I can get hammered if I want, tiny bit or nothing passes to the milk anyway.

Define tiny bit, define hammered, nothing gets into the milk? Really? Uh uh the lies honey.


So first off, getting hammered is a bad idea while breastfeeding if you don't have any plans to feed your baby such as previously stored milk or alternative milk if you don't have any breastmilk.

It's just too much alcohol in the blood. You have to pace it. Day drinking over several hours with breaks in between and timing it out is different, that can be achieved to continue feeding at breast. Drunk without a plan, that's another story.


Alcohol DOES pass into the milk. It IS a minuscule amount when you stick to the plan of having 1 drink and letting it work it's way out. However, the amount is so small that it likely would not affect a full term, healthy baby. The older the baby the better. A baby who is sick, premature or in the NICU or just out, I would refrain from having alcohol in your milk. These babies may have a harder time metabolizing any amount of alcohol no matter how small.


Key Takeaways:


  • Start your feed or pump at the end of your feed or pump session for best results and less risk.


  • Overconsumption of alcohol may lead to decrease in supply.


  • 1 drink every 2-3 hours is a good rule of thumb.


  • In the United States, one "standard" drink (or one alcoholic drink equivalent) contains roughly 14 grams of pure alcohol, which is found in: 12 ounces of regular beer, which is usually about 5% alcohol. 5 ounces of wine, which is typically about 12% alcohol. 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, which is about 40% alcohol.


Not gonna lie, I get a kick out of seeing these mamas drinking wine with their pump on. Just watch the clock tho mama!


Be safe out there!


Disclaimer and Sensitivity Notice:


This post is for those who choose to drink. I don't condone drinking but I'm about freedom of choice. If it triggered you, I apologize for contributing to your struggle. I empathize with families dealing with alcoholism.


Alcohol is a plague in our society. It's hard to see past it. I support those who are sober living. If you are suffering please don't be afraid to get help.


If you know someone who is affected by alcoholism seek professional help.


Al-Anon has been very helpful for me on my journey to helping my mother with her sobriety.




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