The Truth About Drinking Alcohol And Breastfeeding

After steering clear of wine, beer, and liquor throughout pregnancy, new moms may struggle to continue their dry spell while breastfeeding their baby. While drinking alcohol and breastfeeding may seem like a hard no, many experts say that if you imbibe in moderation and monitor the time before your next feeding, it's okay to have that glass of wine you've wanted.

While too much alcohol in the breast milk can lead to stunted growth and development, having a few sips here and there isn't bad. Liz Pevytoe, a registered nurse and certified lactation consultant told Parents that "having a standard glass of wine or beer one to two times a week should be fine." Twelve ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of hard liquor qualify as a standard beverage, according to the outlet. Stick to these guidelines, however, as more than these amounts can lead to issues with your child's health and development.

Alcohol passes through breast milk in tiny amounts and, as such, it's vital to time your feedings if you're drinking. Blood-alcohol levels peak about a half hour to an hour after drinking and alcohol can stay in breast milk between two to three hours per beverage (via Parents). While this can help you prepare if you plan to drink this weekend, note that everyone's body reacts differently to alcohol and there are various factors that impact these levels.

Timing is a key factor

If you're looking to find a middle ground between reentering the social scene and tending to your baby, focus on the number of drinks per week (via VeryWell Family). Rather than having a few drinks per day, reframe your consumption around the amount of alcohol you've drank that week, timing when you've last consumed a beverage. 

According to VeryWell Family, the average woman's blood-alcohol level drops .01 percent every 40 minutes after drinking. That means, if you drank an estimated two to three glasses of wine within an hour, you would have to wait for four to seven hours before breastfeeding — again dependent upon various factors like your weight. 

Meanwhile, if you've ever thought about "pumping and dumping," think again. Experts say that there is virtually no need to express milk in an effort to remove any alcohol. Since time is the only thing that can reduce alcohol content within the bloodstream, pumping and dumping won't speed up the process (via VeryWell Family).

Just as long as you feel comfortable and monitor your reaction to booze, health professionals say that it's okay to indulge in a small amount of alcohol once or twice a week during this time. Just make sure this amount is limited to a glass or two, remembering to wait an appropriate amount of time before feeding.