Alcohol And Breastfeeding- Is It Safe For Baby?

We all know that alcohol isn’t recommended for pregnant mothers, but what about while breastfeeding? Are the rules the same? Can alcohol be transferred through breast milk? Keep reading to find out.

It’s a common misconception that breastfeeding mothers can’t enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, or have a drink while out with friends. In reality, this isn’t the case. We’ve heard time and time again that mothers have been told they shouldn’t be drinking while breastfeeding, but the CDC states differently.  If you choose to drink alcohol, this does not mean you need to end your breastfeeding journey. However, it should be noted that drinking in excess is not recommended for both the health of your infant as well as your own health. 

How Much Alcohol Can Breastfeeding Mothers Have?

While not drinking alcohol is always going to be safest, the CDC states that moderate alcohol consumption has no known impact on breastfed infants, especially if the mother waits 2 hours after drinking to resume feeding.

You may be wondering, “Well, what is a moderate amount of alcohol?” According to the CDC, moderate consumption is up to 1 standard drink per day. See the graphic below to learn more about how a standard drink is defined. 

standard drink

Does Alcohol Get Into Breast Milk?

Yes, in small amounts. Alcohol enters breast milk similarly to how it enters the bloodstream. For 1 standard drink, alcohol levels are at the highest concentration in your milk 30-60 minutes after consumption, but can still be detected for 2-3 hours after consumption. The more you drink, the longer the alcohol will still be detected (approximately an extra 2 hours per drink). 

Can I Pump And Dump To Speed Up The Alcohol Processing?

No. Pumping and discarding milk will not decrease the alcohol content. Just like how blood alcohol levels decrease over time, so does the alcohol content in breast milk. 

If it is time to nurse/pump but you are still feeling the effects of alcohol, you may need to pump out some milk to relieve discomfort from engorgement and protect your milk supply. If you think you may find yourself overindulging a bit, be sure to plan ahead and have other options for feeding your infant available.

**Note: Undrinkable breast milk can normally be used for milk baths and soothing other skin issues, but we do not recommend this practice with milk containing alcohol, as it can cause irritation.**

How Can Alcohol Impact Breastfeeding?

Consuming higher quantities of alcohol can impact your body’s ability to release milk, potentially leading to clogged ducts and supply reduction over time. Also, keep in mind that alcohol is a diuretic which can cause dehydration, which is one of the biggest causes of decreased milk supply. 

For your infant, excessive consumption while breastfeeding can hinder your child’s development, create hormonal imbalances as well as cause irregular sleep patterns. 

We know it’s difficult to keep the numbers straight. Feel free to save this image for future reference! → 

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***The information provided on our website is intended solely for general educational and informational purposes only. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician for any questions you may have regarding your or your child’s medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have received in this information.***