By Melissa Portunato MPH, IBCLC, RLC
You’ve waited nine loooooooong months to have a drink and now that baby is finally here you’re asking yourself is it really OK to pop that bottle of champagne and celebrate? I mean, you did just go through labor and delivery, some of the most painful and beautiful moments of your life! You should be able to sit back, make a toast and enjoy yourself right?
Before you kick back and relax read on to get all the facts you need to know about consuming alcohol while breastfeeding. Keep your baby safe and keep yourself sane. Bottoms up!
What Do The Experts Say?
The research is pretty clear on booze and pregnancy – it can be dangerous for babies – but the message is not always as crystal about alcohol and breastfeeding. Alcohol does transfer into breastmilk but it’s not stored, meaning alcohol enters and exits your breast milk according to your blood alcohol level.
According to Dr. Hale, the leading expert in perinatal pharmacology, alcohol can be safely consumed by breastfeeding mothers without adverse effects to her infant. The AAP says that while alcohol intake should be limited, an occasional drink is acceptable. Research studies suggest, though alcohol is quickly absorbed and cleared from breast milk, it can temporarily inhibit milk production.
When Is The Best Time To Pop That Bubbly?
Mothers of infants less than 3 months old should be extra careful. Newborn babies have a very immature liver while older babies can metabolize alcohol much quicker. Research tells us daily consumption of alcohol has been shown to slow weight gain and gross motor development in infants and young children.
It’s best to nurse baby first and then have that drink. Allowing for at least 2 hours between consuming alcohol and breastfeeding. Food helps to decrease adsorption. It’s best to accompany that glass of wine with a delicious dinner.
Do I Need To Pump and Dump?
Alcohol metabolizes in the blood and leaves breast milk as it clears from your blood. Pumping and dumping does NOT speed up the elimination of alcohol from your breast milk. It is important to pump though, to avoid clogged ducts that can lead to mastitis. Pump as often as baby is eating (not because it will eliminate the alcohol faster) to keep up with your milk supply.
The only time you really ever need to pump and dump is if you totally overdid it with the drinking, still feeling more than a buzz, and you are engorged. At this point mama, so sorry but it wouldn’t be the best for baby to pump and store your milk. Ugh!
Let’s Wrap It Up!
Moderation and proper planning is important. An occasional drink is acceptable and compatible with breastfeeding. The primary concern is not that the alcohol will pass through the milk and harm the baby but rather mom being intoxicated and not being able to care for her baby. If an epic party you’ve been anticipating is going down soon, plan for a sober person to care for your baby. Remember the more alcohol consumed the longer it will take to clear your body. Generally, if you are OK to drive, you’re OK to breastfeed.
Avoid drinking excessive alcohol and seek help from a professional if you are concerned about your alcohol use. It’s OK to ask for help mama! You’re an amazing mama and your baby needs you. Keep in mind some medications can interact with alcohol. Talk to your doctor if you are currently taking medications and planning to consume alcohol. Have more questions about alcohol and breastfeeding? Spectra Baby USA has got you covered! Schedule a LIVE virtual consultation with one of our International Board Certified Lactation Consultants today and walk away confidently, ready to make the best decision for you and your baby. We’re here for you and we support you!