Is it safe to drink alcohol while breastfeeding?
(And, how much is too much?)
Can you drink alcohol while breastfeeding? There is a lot of conflicting information out there, and it can be hard to know what’s right. As a mum, you’ve probably been there – at a social event, holding your baby and trying to figure out what to do about the glass of wine in front of you…
Can I drink alcohol while breastfeeding? Is drinking while breastfeeding safe if I have just one or two drinks? Does this sound familiar to you?
Well here is what I found out from my research as a mum who has been there.
Here is the truth! Whatever you eat or drink does go into the breastmilk… so it makes sense that by drinking alcohol and breastfeeding it creates a risk of your baby then drinking it too. But there are ways you can stop the alcohol from getting into your baby’s feed.
One important thing to note is how long does alcohol stay in breastmilk. As the NHS recommends, if a nursing mother decides to drink alcohol, for every drink they have, they should then wait 2-3 hours after consuming the one drink of alcohol before feeding their baby with breast milk again.
If you choose to partake in some wine or beer with dinner then plan on breastfeeding or pumping beforehand so that your body has time to process and remove all that alcohol before the next feeding cycle. This will help to avoid your baby taking any alcohol with their feed.
Do you have to pump and dump after drinking?
According to the NHS if you have one drink it is unnecessary to pump and dump afterwards if you simply wait 2-3 hours for it to leave your system. This is because the alcohol levels in your breastmilk will naturally reduce as it does in your body. However, your breasts may become very uncomfortable if you don’t empty the milk as quickly, therefore you may want to pump and dump breastmilk just to ease the pain before the 2-3 hours is up.
Do you want extra reassurance about the level of alcohol in milk?
If you have waited 2-3 hours after having a drink of alcohol and you want more reassurance that your milk does not contain any alcohol, then why not try an at-home alcohol test for nursing mums?
These breast milk test strips give quick and easy results to provide you with peace of mind about the alcohol levels in your breastmilk. This means that you can allow yourself an occasional drink of alcohol without worrying about it getting into your baby’s feed.
Does alcohol decrease milk supply?
Bare in mind that occasional drinking while breastfeeding (in small amounts) is considered okay for milk supply, but studies have shown that excess alcohol can not only be harmful to your baby but it can also decrease your milk production.
You may have heard that beer helps milk supply but according to Very Well Family, this is due to the barely and hops in the beer, not the alcohol. You can try non alcoholic beer for breast milk production which is a safer alternative to alcohol.
Related Post: Lactation Boost Brownies To Increase Milk Supply
So, what is the conclusion on alcohol and breastfeeding?
The good news is that there’s no need to panic if you want a drink every now and then. You can have one or two drinks per week, so long as you wait 2-3 hours after every drink before breastfeeding again.
If you, like some women prefer to use breast milk alcohol test strips just for extra reassurance then you can grab some here. So enjoy your time with friends and family without feeling guilty about the occasional cocktail! 🙂