Can I drink alcohol while breastfeeding?

(August 12, 2010)

Alcohol is one of the most important things that a woman has to abstain from when pregnant and there is no way you can have alcohol throughout the nine months of pregnancy as by doing that you are hampering your health as well as your baby’s health. Therefore, after delivery, a woman may want to indulge in a drink but might pause and think if it is the right option. Mothers breastfeeding a baby for a couple of months after pregnancy and thus, there is the fear of alcohol affecting the mothers’ milk which in turn will affect the baby. However, it is said that alcohol in limited amounts is alright if consumed while you are breastfeeding but a few precautions need to be taken. First and foremost, it is important to discuss this with your doctor. Many women feel that their doctor will judge them and treat them differently according to their visits. However, the doctor is an impartial individual who is used to various types of questions and it would be better to have your doubts cleared than to make a mistake that can affect your child for the rest of his/her life.

Alcohol consumed could be in the form of wine, or beer diluted with soda. The effect of wine is relatively less as compared to hard drinks. First of all, you need to know that when alcohol enters into your blood, it will also get into your breast milk. Moreover, the liver of your baby has not developed because of which he will not be able to digest the alcohol well enough. Alcohol, in turn affects the baby’s sleep and food and if you have had alcohol and nursing your baby in the first 4 hours, your baby is more likely to fall off to sleep faster and drink about 23 percent less milk. The quantity of alcohol referred in this case is a beer can, 4 ounces of wine, or one mixed drink.

Most people and doctors would discourage drinking alcohol while breastfeeding. In case, you have alcohol while breastfeeding your child, it is important that you do not nurse your baby for at least 2 to 3 hours after consumption of the same as  the alcohol will be flushed out from your system in a matter of hours. The amount of alcohol in your blood and thus, breast milk is said to be highest between 30 to 90 minutes of its consumption. However, you need to make a note that this time and also the time taken to get rid of the alcohol differs from person to person. If you really wish to have alcohol during breastfeeding, you can time it according to your baby’s sleep time so you know you won’t be feeding him anytime soon. You can also express your breast milk in advance so that you can feed your child this milk for the next one or two feeds. However, if you go beyond one drink, it takes longer for the body to flush it out of your system. 

Submitted by P T on August 12, 2010 at 11:34

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