If you’re a breastfeeding mom it’s important to know that it is okay to enjoy a glass of wine this holiday season. In all honestly, a glass of wine was something I really missed being able to have while pregnant, so when my baby finally arrived, mamma popped the cork and had a glass (moderately and responsibly of course)… while breastfeeding. And here is why.
Alcohol present in breastmilk is the same as the maternal blood concentration. This means that if your blood alcohol level is 0.05% your breast milk will also contain 0.05% alcohol. Typically, within 30-60 minutes after consuming a beverage, there will be alcohol present in both your bloodstream and your breastmilk. I can recall being at a family Christmas party and breastfeeding standing up with a glass of wine in hand. With three kids under my belt my multitasking had hit new heights! He was drinking completely alcohol free breastmilk and I knew that by the time he needed to be fed again my breastmilk would be free of alcohol.
We now know that “pumping and dumping” is not necessary. The reason most people pump while consuming alcohol is to feel more comfortable (not become engorged). If you plan on consuming more than one alcoholic beverage in a night plan to pump prior to consumption so that your babe has a ready-to-consume supply of breast milk. It’s important to remember that alcohol clears from breastmilk the same as it does in the bloodstream. For the average individual this will be 2-3 hours per standard drink (see below), depending on your weight.
- 12 ounces (355 milliliters) of beer (5% alcohol)
- 5 ounces (148 milliliters) of wine (11% alcohol)
- 1.5 ounces (44 milliliters) of liquor (40% alcohol)
The bottom line is there’s no level of alcohol in breast milk that’s considered safe for your baby. The effects of maternal alcohol intake on the breastfed infant are limited, but some of the risks to the infant (after consuming breastmilk with alcohol) include disrupted sleep and decreased intake (due to reduced lactation). So if you do decide to have a drink, have it safely. This means paying close attention to how much you’re drinking and the timing of each drink, to ensure that you keep your baby safe.