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Alcohol and Breastfeeding

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2-Feb-10 2:28 pm

The topic of drinking alcohol and breastfeeding has come up several times recently, so I wanted to make the answers easy to find.

A small amount of alcohol does go into your breastmilk when you drink, but it doesn't stay there. It leaves the milk just as it goes into your blood and then goes out again. You do NOT need to pump and dump after drinking alcohol. You simply need to wait to nurse (or pump) until the alcohol level in your milk goes down. A good rule of thumb is that if you can drive, you can breastfeed.

Here is a good article on the topic written by a lactation consultant. I was just going to post the link, but I decided to copy the article here so it is more easily accessible. This source of this article is http://kellymom.com/health/lifestyle/alcohol.html

Breastfeeding and Alcohol

By Kelly Bonyata, IBCLC

Guidelines

  • Current research says that occasional use of alcohol (1-2 drinks) is not harmful to the nursing baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Drugs classifies alcohol (ethanol) as a “Maternal Medication Usually Compatible With Breastfeeding.”
  • Many experts recommend against drinking more than 1-2 drinks per week.
  • It is recommended that nursing moms avoid breastfeeding during and for 2-3 hours after drinking (Hale 2002).
  • There is no need to pump & dump milk after drinking alcohol, other than for mom's comfort -- pumping & dumping does not speed the elimination of alcohol from the milk.
  • Alcohol does not increase milk production, and has been shown to inhibit let-down and decrease milk production (see below).
  • If you're away from your baby, try to pump as often as baby usually nurses (this is to maintain milk supply, not because of the alcohol). At the very least, pump or hand express whenever you feel uncomfortably full - this will help you to avoid plugged ducts and mastitis.

In general, if you are sober enough to drive, you are sober enough to breastfeed. Less than 2% of the alcohol consumed by the mother reaches her blood and milk. Alcohol peaks in mom's blood and milk approximately 1/2-1 hour after drinking (but there is considerable variation from person to person, depending upon how much food was eaten in the same time period, mom's body weight and percentage of body fat, etc.). Alcohol does not accumulate in breastmilk, but leaves the milk as it leaves the blood; so when your blood alcohol levels are back down, so are your milk alcohol levels.

Always keep in mind the baby's age when considering the effect of alcohol. A newborn has a very immature liver, so minute amounts of alcohol would be more of a burden. Up until around 3 months of age, infants detoxify alcohol at around half the rate of an adult. An older baby or toddler can metabolize the alcohol more quickly.

 

Effects of alcohol on breastfeeding and the breastfed baby

  • Alcohol does not increase milk production. In fact, babies nurse more frequently but take in less milk in the 3-4 hours after mom has had a drink, and one study showed a 23% decrease in milk volume with one drink (Mennella & Beauchamp 1991, 1993; Mennella 1997, 1999).
  • 2+ drinks may inhibit let-down (Coiro et al 1992; Cobo 1974).
  • One study showed changes in the infant's sleep-wake patterning after short-term exposure to small amounts of alcohol in breastmilk -- infants whose mothers were light drinkers slept less (Mennella & Gerrish 1998).
  • Daily consumption of alcohol has been shown in the research to increase the risk for slow weight gain in the infant.
  • Daily consumption of alcohol (1+ drinks daily) has been associated with a decrease in gross motor development (Little et al 1989).

 

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2-Feb-10 2:34 pm

 I read this also. though I read that you should try to avoid drinking all together the first 2 months of the babies life because his/her liver is not well formed yet and may not process any alcohol well.. but after that period you can do the guidelines above.. is this true or false?

 

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2-Feb-10 2:40 pm

Here is some more good information from La Leche League:

http://www.llli.org/FAQ/alcohol.html

The age of the baby is mentioned in this FAQ, as one of several "important considerations":

Important Considerations

  • Your baby's age
    • A newborn has an immature liver, and will be more affected by alcohol
    • Up until around 3 months of age, infants metabolize alcohol at about half the rate of adults
    • An older baby can metabolize alcohol more quickly than a young infant
  • Your weight
    • A person's size has an impact on how quickly they metabolize alcohol
    • A heavier person can metabolize alcohol more quickly than a lighter person
  • Amount of alcohol
    • The effect of alcohol on the baby is directly related to the amount of alcohol that is consumed
    • The more alcohol consumed, the longer it takes to clear the mother's body
  • Will you be eating
    • An alcoholic drink consumed with food decreases absorbtion

 

Mom2RJA Baby Boy R, 2000 Baby Boy J, 2003 Baby Girl A, 2009 MS/IUI 10/2/07 at GIVF, natural cycle, 1 follicle, 94.7% sort purity, BFN MS/IUI 8/25/08 at HRC, Clomid + Ovidrel, 3 follicles, 92.99% sort purity, BFP!!! Beta #1 on 9/9 (15 dpo): 153, Beta #2 on 9/11 (17 dpo): 395 

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12-Feb-10 3:28 pm

I wish you could post this for the rest of the worl too! So many people think you have to pump and dump!

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21-Feb-10 7:41 pm
Thank you for sharing! This was a good read :).
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