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The ABC's of Breastfeeding: B is for BOOZE AND BREASTFEEDING

holidays breastfeeding alcohol permission




The holidays are just

around the corner,

and all the celebrations that come with them!


Now you may start to wonder about all the holiday celebrating and what is on or off the table as far as indulging in a celebatory drink. Can you celebrate Thanksgiving dinner with a glass of wine? Is a glass of champagne alright for New Year’s Eve? What about a beer at the BSU tailgate party? There is so much confusing information out there regarding this topic.

Let’s take a look at a few of the fallacies, find the facts, and alleviate our fears.

Drinking beer will increase my milk supply. While this is partly true, the opposite is also true. Even though the barley in your favorite ale does stimulate prolactin, which helps your body make more milk, it also inhibits your ability to release your milk. This happens because it decreases oxytocin levels, which in turn causes inhibition of the letdown reflex and actually makes it more difficult for your infant to get the amount of milk he or she needs. Studies have shown that after mom has just one drink, infant intake at the breast can be lowered by 20%. Sleep duration was also shown to be shortened, which makes sense if they are taking less than usual at the feeding.

You should "pump and dump" after you've consumed an alchoholic beverage, everytime. This will decrease the level of alcohol in your breastmilk. Actually, only TIME will decrease the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream, and the same is true for your breastmilk. Your blood/alcohol content and the alcohol content of your breastmilk are the same at any given moment. The level of alcohol in your bloodstream peaks at 30-90 minutes, and dissipates over time, taking an average of 4 hours after just one drink to completely clear from your system. This number varies, of course, from person to person. Pumping and dumping won’t accelerate this process. It’s just a matter of time.

Even one drink while breastfeeding can be damaging. According to the AAP, “one alcoholic drink” is equal to 12 oz. beer, 1oz. hard liquor, or a 4 oz. glass of wine. The more you drink, more time is needed for your body to clear the alcohol from your system. Keep in mind that your newborn infant’s liver is immature, and they will require twice as long to process the same amount of alcohol that you do. Some experts recommend that a mom who is breastfeeding should avoid alcohol altogether until her infant is at least 3 months old.

So, how can a breastfeeding mom 

enjoy an occasional alcoholic beverage? 


There are a few helpful tips to keep in mind. If you want to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, for instance, time your drink in a manner that allows ample time before baby is going to want to nurse. You can plan your drink around one of your little one’s longer stretches of sleep. You can pump before going to a party, so you will have a bottle ready for your little one to drink instead of going to the breast. This is the only time pumping and dumping is appropriate. If you skip a feeding while you are out, you may need to pump. This is the milk you will want to dump, since the alcohol content of this expressed milk will be higher. Some say this is ok to save and freeze-that alcohol content of expressed breast milk dissipates over time. Dr. Thomas Hale, of the Infant Risk Center, states this is not something one can count on.

The bottom line is, if you choose to have an occasional alcoholic beverage, the right timing can help protect your breastfeeding infant! 

altTina Schroeder, IBCLC specializes in lactation and feeding issues, supporting families throughout the greater Treasure Valley
  and beyond through Treasure Valley Midwives Lactation clinic. As an IBCLC, she is passionate about empowering parents to      
  nurture their children in whatever way work best for them, and is honored to be able to foster a growing confidence for parents
  in the newborn stage, with all of its joys and challenges.

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