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Alcohol and Breastfeeding: What You Need to Know for Baby’s Safety

Alcohol and breastfeeding can be a tricky topic for most mothers. Many wonder if it is safe to drink alcohol while breastfeeding, but the answer to this question is not black and white – it depends on a variety of factors. In this blog post, we will discuss the risks and benefits of drinking alcohol while breastfeeding. We will also provide some advice for mothers who are wondering whether or not alcohol and breastfeeding can go hand in hand.

Parents who breastfeed often wonder if it’s harmful to their baby to drink alcohol. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk for miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, and other complications in newborn babies. But how much alcohol is too much? And what about alcohol consumed by women who are breastfeeding?

Alcohol and Breastfeeding

alcohol and breastfeeding

Is it safe to drink alcohol while breastfeeding?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), moderate alcohol intake — defined as one drink per day for women — does not appear to pose any risks to infants. However, some studies suggest that even small amounts of alcohol can cause changes in breast milk composition. In addition, alcohol can interfere with the absorption of nutrients in breast milk.

While studies have shown the immediate effects of alcohol consumption on nursing mothers and their babies, we still do not know what long-term outcomes may result.

If alcohol is consumed to excess, it can bring about drowsiness, deep sleep, weakness, and atypical weight increase in infants. The milk-ejection reflex in the mother could be weakened as well.

Depending on how much alcohol you consume before you nurse your baby, may experience a number of effects from the alcohol in your milk. Even a small to moderate amount of alcohol may impair milk production and the milk ejection reflex.

Some of the negative effects on the baby may be:

-Drowsiness

-Deep sleep

-Weakness

-Atypical weight increase

Mothers who drink alcohol should be aware of these potential effects on their babies. If you choose to mix alcohol and breastfeeding, it is important to do so responsibly.

Can I have more than one glass of wine or beer per day?

If you plan to nurse your baby, it’s best to avoid alcohol altogether. Plus, it can also be harmful to your own health. However, if you’re looking forward to a glass of wine at dinner, you’ll be happy to learn that breastfeeding moms who drink no more than one drink per day appeared to have minimal or no harmful effects on their infants.

Alcohol and breastfeeding don’t have to be exclusive of each other when done responsibly.

Should I avoid alcohol altogether?

Some women find that alcohol affects their ability to produce enough milk. In fact, research shows that moderate amounts of alcohol (up to one drink per day) can reduce milk supply by up to 50 percent. This means that women who do choose to drink should limit themselves to no more than one alcoholic beverage per day.

Will my baby get drunk from my breast milk?

If you’re concerned about whether your baby will become intoxicated from your breast milk, talk with your doctor or lactation consultant. They can help you determine how much alcohol is present in your breast milk and what effect it might have on your baby.

LactMed, a database with information on drugs and chemicals individuals who are breastfeeding may be exposed to, offers the following:

“Breastmilk alcohol levels closely parallel blood alcohol levels. The highest alcohol levels in milk occur 30 to 60 minutes after an alcoholic beverage, but food delays the time of peak milk alcohol levels. Nursing after 1 or 2 drinks (including beer) can decrease the infant’s milk intake by 20 to 23% and cause infant agitation and poor sleep patterns. Nursing or pumping within 1 hour before ingesting alcohol may slightly reduce the subsequent amounts of alcohol in breastmilk.”

Safety Suggestions if you Choose to Breastfeed & Drink Alcohol

-Young infants can not metabolize alcohol well. Wait until they are at least 8 weeks of age before consuming alcohol if you are breastfeeding.

-Wait to breastfeed. If you can, wait at least two hours after drinking before nursing your baby. This will give your body time to metabolize the alcohol.

-Eat before you drink. You may want to have a meal before consuming alcohol. Eating will help slow down the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream.

-Alternate between breastfeeding and bottle feeding. If you’re going to be drinking, try giving your baby formula or pumped milk from a bottle instead of directly from the breast.

-Limit yourself to one drink per day. As we mentioned earlier, moderate amounts of alcohol (up to one drink per day) are unlikely to harm your baby.

-Choose your drinks wisely. If you’re going to drink, opt for lower-alcohol beverages like beer or wine spritzers. Hard liquor has a higher alcohol content and can stay in your system longer.

-Know your limit. Pay attention to how alcohol affects you personally. Some women metabolize alcohol faster than others. If you feel tipsy after one drink, it’s best to stop there.

-Talk to your doctor. If you have any concerns about drinking while breastfeeding, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider first. They can offer more personalized advice based on your individual situation.

Alcohol and Breastfeeding in Conclusion

If this topic is consuming a lot of your thoughts, you may want to reach out to a trusted friend or your pediatrician or OBGYN to discuss your feelings. New motherhood can be difficult and it’s important to learn from those who are experts or have gone before you and can lend you their support.

If you’re a new mom and looking for some inspiration, take a look at these quotes on motherhood!

If you’re looking for more breastfeeding resources, take a look at our guide for how to stop breastfeeding the easy way while still maintaining a special bond with your baby or toddler.