How do I drink and breastfeed the correct way?
By Charda Bell, Certified Lactation Educator & Counselor, Doula and Certified Childbirth and Parent Educator, IBCLC student
Most articles say can I breastfeed, but as you can see by the title of mine, the answer is yes and the question is how and I’m here to tell you. There is a right and a wrong way to drink while nursing and it doesn’t include pumping and dumping, which I’m not fond of that term by the way because it’s totally unnecessary and bogus information for the most part. I’m being petty but it also just sounds so trashy and silly of a term.
The holidays came fast, so fast that I bet many of you are in need of an adult beverage to take the edge off, am I right? So, if this is the case for you--or a client, friend or relative--and you are breastfeeding, here’s the real deal on breastfeeding and alcohol. I’ve adapted some of the information from the book Latch: Breastfeeding with confidence at every stage, by Robin Kaplan, IBCLC and owner of the San Diego Breastfeeding Center.
According to current research, the occasional use of alcohol (one to two drinks over the course of a few hours) does not appear to be harmful to a breastfeeding infant. The American Academy of Pediatrics and CDC states “ingestion of alcoholic beverages should be minimized and limited to an occasional intake but no more than 0.5 grams alcohol per kg body weight, which for a 60kg (132 lbs) nursing person is approximately 2 fluid ounces of liquor, 8 fluid ounces of wine, or 2 beers.
I cannot say this enough, and I love that they preach this at La Leche League meetings...Your milk is made from your blood, not the amount of liquids you put in your body. So, drinking more water, milk or tea will not increase your supply. I digress, because your milk is made from your blood, this means less than 2 percent of the alcohol consumed by the nursing person reaches their bloodstream and milk. Alcohol peaks in the blood and milk approximately 30 mins to 60 mins after drinking. This does come with some considerable variations such as how much food was eaten prior to and during that time frame, the nursing person’s body weight and percentage of body fat.
There are some cool little gadgets on the market for breastfeeding parents like this one milk screen test by upspring that helps you determine if you have too much alcohol in your milk. You use it by pumping and dipping a test trip in your milk to see if it’s considered safe to nurse. While that is super cool, it is not required, but what is required is that you listen to your body and know your limits. Hydrate before you drink, because alcohol is drying and dehydrating in general which isn’t the best for your milk production. Alcohol does not accumulate in the breast milk, and the half life is short. Alcohol leaves your milk as it leaves your bloodstream. Therefore, when your blood alcohol levels are back down, so are the alcohol levels in your milk. Despite what you may have seen or heard, there is absolutely NO reason to pump and dump, say it louder for the mamas in the back! Now, unless you feel like your boobs need to be relieved from being too full or something, and that wouldn’t happen because of alcohol but rather due something like a missed feeding, and in any case hand expression and it would probably be a better tool/option.
Feed your baby from the breast just BEFORE you start drinking, then make sure to wait 2-3 hours from each drink to feed the baby at breast. If your baby is going through a growth spurt or cluster feeding, wanting to eat more often and you are drinking, it might be best to pump some milk before you plan to drink just to account for any little snack nursing baby might want after you’ve already started drinking. As for that milk that you pumped after a glass of wine, go ahead and save it in the back of the freezer for the baby when they are older and their digestive system is more mature. Got drunk and pumped? Don’t give it to the baby, that would be too much alcohol in the milk. Should you dump it? That’s up to you, but I would totally make it into breast milk soap instead!
Eat, drink and be merry this holiday season while you are nourishing that precious little babe of yours. You deserve it mama and/or papa. Have a sip for me, cheers!
Need urgent help?