Alcohol and Breastfeeding

Alcoholic Beverages

Alcoholic Beverages

Can I have an alcoholic drink while breastfeeding?  This is one of the top common questions, along with… am I making enough milk?  Most breastfeeding advocates do not believe that an occasional drink should be discouraged for breastfeeding moms.  The wonderful nutritional benefits of breastfeeding so far prove to outweigh the risk of an alcoholic beverage every few weeks or months.

In the past, moms were told that they should try to have a dark beer to increase supply.   Is this true?  Actually, the opposite is true.

“Scientific researchers have turned folklore on its head by showing that alcohol consumption by women who are breast feeding reduces their milk supply, rather than boosting it. New evidence shows that alcohol consumption causes hormonal disruption, decreased lactation performance and diminished milk supply.”

Does this mean that moms cannot indulge in a beer or glass of wine once in a while because it will impact supply?  Not in most cases, but it is something to be aware of, especially if you are drinking alcohol more than occasionally.

We know that alcohol does reach mom’s milk and therefore her baby.   This means that if you are planning on drinking a cocktail with dinner or at an event, you may want to plan accordingly by offering to nurse ahead of time.  Things to consider most would be your baby’s age and health and mom’s weight and metabolism.  This is important because a newborn will take in the alcohol mom drinks and take double the time to expel the alcohol from their little systems.   If you feel tipsy or off, this is not the time to breastfeed.

What about pumping and dumping?  The alcohol will leave your breast at the same rate it leaves the rest of your bloodstream.  If you have had a few drinks and are feeling full, it is fine to pump but it is not a must and will have no effect on when the alcohol leaves the system.  If you choose to have an alcoholic drink or more than one drink, please plan carefully.  Too much alcohol consumption can truly effect your child’s sleep and other development; such as gross motor and learning.

If you think you may have a problem with alcohol or depression or anxiety causing you to feel a need to drink alcohol on a regular basis, please call your health care provider and find support.

For more information check out the website National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism article: Alcohol’s Effect on Lactation by Julie Mennella, Ph. D.

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