Can breastfeeding mothers drink alcohol?
1. If I drink red wine, beer, or spirits, will it harm my breastfeeding baby?
This will happen if you don't take any precautions. The same amount of alcohol that goes into your bloodstream also goes into your breast milk.
If you only have one glass of wine, the amount transferred is relatively small. But your baby is small and her liver is immature, so she won't be able to metabolize alcohol the way you can. Babies under 3 months metabolize alcohol at about half the rate of adults.
Research shows that alcohol can affect a baby's eating and sleeping. In tests where the mother drank an alcoholic beverage (such as 4 ounces, 120ml of red wine; alcoholic mixed drinks; or a can of beer) after breastfeeding, the amount of breast milk consumed by the baby decreased within 4 hours 20%.
Breastfed babies may become drowsy and fall asleep faster after their mother drinks alcohol, but their sleep duration also tends to be shorter.
Alcohol in breast milk may also stunt a baby's development. In a landmark study of 400 breastfed infants, infants whose mothers drank at least one glass of alcohol a day during the first three months of life showed a lag in gross motor development by one year of age. However, the results of this study were not replicated (or ethically considered).
While no one can say for sure about the true effects of alcohol on a breastfed baby, it may be wise to abstain from alcohol. At least that's the case during the first days of a child's life. Some experts recommend that breastfeeding mothers avoid alcohol until their child is 3 months old.
If you're concerned that you're drinking too much, talk to your doctor.
2. How can I safely have an occasional drink if I am breastfeeding?
After drinking, wait at least two hours before feeding your baby to give your body time to metabolize the alcohol.
Your blood alcohol level (equal to the alcohol level in your breast milk) is usually highest 30 to 90 minutes after you drink, although this time, and how long it takes for the alcohol to metabolize completely in your body, It varies from person to person.
You can time the end of your last feeding, as well as when you drank alcohol, so your baby doesn't drink in the hours after feeding, for example, or drink while your baby is sleeping for a long time.
Alternatively, you can pre-store some expressed breast milk and bottle-feed your baby after drinking. (Pumping after drinking will not remove the alcohol from your system any faster. You will need to wait at least two hours.Test the alcohol content of breast milk by breastmilk alcohol test strips )
3. If I am breastfeeding, can I have more than one drink?
When you're a nursing mother, it's hard to be safe with more than one drink. The more alcohol you drink, the longer it takes for the alcohol to metabolize.
For example, according to the researchers' chart of alcohol content in breast milk: If a 120-pound, average-height woman drank three drinks in one hour, it would take seven and a half hours for her breast milk to be alcohol-free. For an average height, 175-pound woman, it takes about 6 hours. If a 140-pound woman drinks four drinks in one hour, it will take nine hours for her breast milk to be alcohol-free. For this 175-pound woman, it takes about 8 hours.
If you're a breastfeeding mother, you need to limit yourself to an occasional drink and no more than one a day. For a 130-pound woman, that means no more than 2 ounces of alcohol, 8 ounces of red wine, or two beers in 24 hours.
If you've had too much to drink, don't nurse your baby until you're sober. If you need to express milk, discard the drunk milk.
If your baby sleeps through the night and doesn't wake up to feed, it may be okay to have a few extra drinks in the evening. But this creates other problems:
*If you are drunk, you cannot safely take care of your children.
*If you are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, you cannot sleep safely with your baby. These anesthetics can interfere with your awareness of the baby's presence and baby's cries. So if you drink, don't let your baby sleep in your bed.
4. Does drinking alcohol increase breast milk supply?
Won't. There is no scientific evidence to support the common belief that drinking beer or any other type of alcohol increases breast milk supply. First, alcohol dehydrates your body, causing you to lose fluid and negatively affect milk production. In addition, drinking alcohol disrupts hormones involved in making milk.
Julie Mennella, a researcher at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, studies the effects of alcohol on lactation. The researchers believe this may explain why babies find it harder to breastfeed when their mothers drink alcohol.
If you're concerned about a low milk supply, talk to a lactation consultant, as well as your baby's pediatric healthcare practitioner.