Alcohol and Breastfeeding

Have you been advised to always ‘pump and dump’? Or just "not drink at all"


Breastfeeding mothers often receive conflicting advice about whether alcohol consumption can have an effect on their baby.


While women are often warned not to consume alcohol during pregnancy due to evidence that it could cause damage to an unborn child, the risks of consuming alcohol while breastfeeding are not as well defined.


Dr Jack Newman Pediatrician and ibclc is the king of this topic he believes very strongly that "a mother can drink some alcohol and continue breastfeeding as she normally does" So how much is ok?


Simply - your breast milk will contain around the same concentration of alcohol as your blood. "Adult metabolism of alcohol  is approximately 1 ounce in 3 hours, so mothers who ingest alcohol in moderate amounts can generally return to breastfeeding as soon as they feel neurologically normal. Chronic or heavy consumers of alcohol should not breastfeed.” You are also looking after a baby, and alcohol does get into the breast milk, peaking at around 30-60 mins after consumption.  It would be absolutely important and sensible to stick with 1-2 units only, being aware it takes around 1 hr for 1 unit of alcohol to be cleared from the body


The other thing to emphasize is: alcohol does clear from breast milk as it does from the blood, at around the same rate.  Milk that is expressed with alcohol in it will remain milk with alcohol in it, important if you’re considering giving expressed milk


Therefore timing is important - best approach is to start your drink towards the end of a feed, so that there is another 2-3 hrs before the next feed and 1-2 units will have cleared.  It’s easier to do this once you have established a routine and have a predictable feeding pattern


If consumed in large amounts alcohol can cause drowsiness, deep sleep, weakness, and abnormal weight gain in the infant, and the possibility of decreased milk-ejection reflex in the mother.


Mothers who have been drinking should not bed-share with their babies as your natural protective reflexes will be affected. Did you have a drink while breastfeeding? I would love to know you thoughts and experiences.

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