Breastfeeding

What to know about breastfeeding and drinking alcohol

You have gone nine months without an alcoholic beverage and now you have a beautiful new baby. You love this new little person more than anything, but what are the do’s and do not’s with breastfeeding and drinking alcohol. Is it safe?

Baby sucks the mother's breast. Close-up.

Firstly: Yes it’s safe to enjoy a glass of alcohol whether its beer, wine or whatever you enjoy.

How is it safe?

fine wine - tilt shift selective focus effect photo

Researchers have found that alcohol does get into the breast milk, however it generally stays in there for 30-60 minutes after having the first drink. Alcohol affects people very differently depending on your size, your metabolism, how quickly you drink, whether you have eaten and how many drinks you consume.

It is suggested that it takes 2 hours for the average woman to metabolise 1 standard drink, 4 hours for 2 drinks and 6 hours for 3 drinks etc. It is recommended in your baby’s first month of life to reduce alcohol intake to 1-2 drinks a couple of times a week, not daily. Having 3 or more alcoholic drinks a day can be harmful not only to the baby but your own health.

Many women falsely believe expressing and throwing away the milk will remove the alcohol from their breast milk however this doesn’t now work because the alcohol will still be in your blood steam.

What is the best way to enjoy a drink and breastfeed?

1. Plan ahead

breast pump close look

Express for a few days before the day/night you plan to drink alcohol.  If you have a good supply of breast milk available in advance for your baby then you can be reassured that it will not have any alcohol in it and all you will have to worry about is your ‘possible’ hangover.

2. Should you use formula?

an of powdered milk for children on wooden table

If your baby is a straight breastfed baby then no. If you plan ahead then the baby will have alcohol free milk. However, if your baby is mix fed already with formula and breast milk then adding an extra formula feed is totally fine.

Tips for breastfeeding mums

Other options to help you enjoy a drink and feel part of the crowd are to have less wine in your glass and top it up with ice and soda water. It also helps your calorie count and increases your water intake.

To keep up your breast milk supply you will need to increase your water intake 1:1. This means 1 extra glass of water per alcoholic beverage you consume.

Time is the only factor that will decrease the alcohol amount in your breast milk.

If you end up having a big night of drinking, make sure you have a sober person to help you look after your baby and never co-sleep under the affects of alcohol.

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