Can You Drink Alcohol While Breastfeeding?

Can You Drink Alcohol While Breastfeeding?

Will it harm for baby if I drink beer, wine, or hard alcohol while breastfeeding?

Many new moms want to know when they can have a beer or glass of wine after pregnancy and nine months of abstaining from all alcohol. Then the question is; can you drink alcohol while breastfeeding? The simple answer is, YES.

Can You Drink Alcohol While Breastfeeding?
Can You Drink Alcohol While Breastfeeding?

There is a lot of conflicting information on the internet related this question, can you drink alcohol while breastfeeding? I felt pretty confused when I had my first baby. I wanted to have a drink with family and friends again, but I did not want to do anything to put my baby at risk.

There are basic rules related about drinking wine while breastfeeding, but one size does not fit all. Most new mothers are going to have to take a look at the recommendations, and think about how their bodies process alcohol and use their own judgments.

After doing some research, I feel fine when having an occasional drink (or more) and breastfeeding my baby. I just make sure to know how my body responds to alcohol, and to prepare the best I can for those occasions. I have summarized some of the facts and opinions related to this subject. So you can make your best informed choice as well.

How Does Alcohol Affect Our Milk?

When we drink alcohol it does transfer in and out of our breast milk the same way. Alcohol transfers in and out of our bloodstream. Alcohol levels peak about 30-60 minutes after ingestion, and the amount of alcohol that makes it into the milk is much less than what is ingested so in most cases it is a miniscule amount.

Dissimilar estimates have position it at less than 2-16% of the amount of alcohol ingested by the mother. And as we know, alcohol levels are metabolized by adults at about 15-20 mg/dl an hour.

The Amount of Alcohol in Most Drinks

In the United States (US), one of “standard” drink alcohol contains roughly 14 grams of pure alcohol.

  • 12 ounces of regular beer. It’s which usually about 5% alcohol is; some light beers are about 4.2% alcohol.
  • 5 ounces of wine. It’s which is typically about 12% alcohols.
  • 5 ounces of distilled spirits. It’s which is about 40% alcohols.

The recommendation found frequently online is to wait 2 hours per drink, and there is also a frequent rule touted that if you are sober enough to drive you are sober enough to breastfeed. These are both a safe, but may be a bit conservative.

At the same time, as it makes sense to wait to breastfeed your baby until you do not feel the effects of the alcohol. It is really going to correspond to your weight and how quickly your body metabolizes the alcohol.

A number of adults may metabolize a drink alcohol in an hour and several may possibly take two to three hours. How much you have eaten possibly will modify this stat. It is hard to identify any correct regulations about alcohol and breastfeeding since these factors can be different so much.

How Does Alcohol Affect My Baby?

Generally drink an alcohol in one or two is almost always fine, and not harmful to your baby. It gets more questionable for much better amounts of alcohol, and how frequently or often you are drinking. So while drink an alcohol in one or two here or there is fine. A drink or two every day for an extended period may not be.

How Does Alcohol Affect My Baby?But unfortunately, there is not understandable information on this since it is hard subject to document and study.

Long term side effects of alcohol use in a breastfeeding mother are not known, but some possible side effects for the infant include lower weight gain and possible motor development delays. Shorter term side effects are less milk supply letdown, and your baby consuming less milk while there is alcohol present.

An additional thing to stay in mind is that an infant will have a harder time metabolizing tiny amounts of alcohol. A newborn older than three months will be able to process it more capably.

Generally, having drinks occasionally is fine if you use good judgments. If you feel you have a drinking problem or are heavy alcohol users please talk to your Dr. about other options.

What Are Some Of The Official Recommendations?

The AAP says that alcohol apply while breastfeeding is generally friendly. If consumed in large amounts it lists possible side effects that could happen:

Deep sleep, drowsiness, weakness, and abnormal weight gain in the newborn, and the possibility of decreased milk-ejection reaction in the mother.

Dr. Jack Newman in his newsletter about “More Breastfeeding Myths”, he has said:

“Reasonable alcohol drinking should not be discouraged at all. As is the case with most drugs, very little alcohol comes out in the milk. The mother can take some alcohol and continue breastfeeding as she normally does. Prohibiting alcohol is another way we make life unnecessarily restrictive for nursing mothers.”

The La Leche League’s recommendation was taken from their book “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding”:

The effects of alcohol while breastfeeding baby are directly related to the amount the mother ingests. When the breastfeeding mother drinks infrequently or limits her consumption to one drink or less per day. The amount of alcohol her baby receives has not been proven to be harmful.

Thomas W. Hale, R.Ph. Ph.D. “mothers who ingest alcohol in moderate amounts can generally return to breastfeeding as soon as they feel neurologically normal.” So, a mother’s blood alcohol level must be 300mg/dl before significant side effects are noticed in the infant.

Do I Need To Pump And Dump?

No you don’t. The term pump and dump is pretty awful. An alcohol enters into your milk and leaves your milk in the same way it enters and leaves your bloodstream. Pumping will not do anything to speed this process. And there is no need to get rid of the milk while you are drinking alcohol.

The only reason you may want to pump is, if you are going to be away from your baby for a long time. You may want to pump during that time if you are going to miss a feeding.

Pumping can be useful if you would like to have pumped milk available to your baby during the time while you are having a couple of drinks. You can always get ready by pumping ahead of time, but there is no pumping and dumping needed.

Does Alcohol Help Milk Production While Breastfeeding?

No it doesn’t, but in fact it can inhibit milk letdown. Alcohol has been shown to block the hormones responsible for the let down of milk and can affect the production of milk, and you probably do not want to ingest alcohol if you are having supply issues.

Other experts say there is no scientific evidence to support the popular wisdom that drinking of alcohol will boosts your milk supply. For one thing, alcohol dehydrates your body and makes you lose body fluid. It can negatively impact how much milk you make. Furthermore, drinking alcohol disrupt the hormones that are mixed up in milk production.

The oldest rumor that drinking an alcohol can help milk production most likely came about due the barley and hops in beer which are known galactagogues (something that can help you make more milk). You can get the same have an effect on by drinking non alcoholic beer.

Talk to a lactation consultant and your baby’s healthcare practitioner if you’re concerned about a low milk supply.

Do I Need Those Strips That Test Alcohol in My Milk?

Milk screen makes a strip that lets you test the level of alcohol in your breast milk. I used to be a fan of these, but now I am not so sure to do that. When we already have a pretty good idea that a couple of drinks are fine I think it may be unnecessary to test breast milk for alcohol.


Based on some experts’ opinions say light to moderate alcohol use by a breastfeeding mother is fine. More than that could be a problem, but it is not really known how excessive alcohol use impacts breast milk. Perceptibly a bigger issue may be that if you are drinking more than a moderate amount, then you are unable to correctly care for your baby.

Generally it’s a good idea to wait until you feel normal to breastfeed your baby. It is not harmful to your baby if you limit your alcohol consumption to an occasional drink or few per week. It may give you peace of mind to plan ahead or try the milk screen strips if you are worried about it.

You can always pump some milk ahead of time to help your baby. Plan ahead and have a bottle of breast milk available for your baby if you would like to have a night out.

I found this topic is very interesting. And it seems to prove that miniscule amounts of alcohol actually make it through to our breast milk.

Please use your own judgment and let me know if you have any questions about can you drink alcohol while breastfeeding?