The topic of breastfeeding and alcohol is a hot one. It can be confusing to navigate and can make you feel guilty for drinking while breastfeeding..
So let me start by raising my glass to you and saying, there's no need for guilt if you fancy a festive beverage. Look, even if Great Aunt Karen raises an eyebrow at the Christmas dinner table, you can confidently reassure her (and yourself) that yes, you can enjoy a tipple while nursing.
Great Aunt Karen: "Amy, you can't drink that Champagne! You're still breastfeeding Max!" (Insert wide-eyed horror)
Me: (Full of confidence) "Actually, Aunt Karen, I can. Did you know research indicates the safest time to do this is while I'm breastfeeding?"
Just watch her face! Being kind and dropping facts will help them back off….
Now, let's arm ourselves with some extra knowledge this holiday season to confidently respond to any more naysayers, shall we?
The Myth of Beer Boosting Your Supply…..
You've probably heard the old wives' tale about stout or beer boosting your milk supply. Here's the surprise - it holds a grain of truth! Ingredients like hops and barley may increase serum prolactin, the hormone responsible for milk production. But wait, there’s always a but…
Why not 10 tequila shots?
While a round of tequila shots or a champagne waterfall might be tempting ( or actually terrifying lol ). Over indulging can mess with your milk supply. Which is bad. Research suggests that consuming five drinks or more might inhibit your milk ejection reflex, leading to a temporary dip in milk production. Plus, safety should always come first - we want to ensure we're not so buzzed that we can't care for our little ones properly.
Celebratory Champagne or Wine
But if you're considering a celebratory glass of champagne or a lovely wine with dinner, here's what happens: alcohol peaks in your bloodstream and breastmilk about 30-60 minutes after consumption. Factors like your weight, food consumption, and body fat percentage also play a role in this timing. So, I can't guarantee that you'll be fine after five drinks - there's no one-size-fits-all rule here. But you know your body best!
When to Drink?
Here's my top tip: The safest time to enjoy a drink is actually while breastfeeding or pumping. So, feed your baby, enjoy a beverage or two, and by the time they want to feed again, it's very unlikely that any alcohol would be in your milk.
Pump and Dump?
Noooo Contrary to popular belief, 'pumping and dumping' doesn't remove alcohol from breastmilk. Alcohol concentrations in breastmilk closely mirror those in your bloodstream. So as your blood alcohol levels decrease, so does the alcohol content in your breastmilk.
The Boobie Bottom Line
In general, less than 2% of the alcohol you drink reaches your breastmilk. It's literally like throwing a shot glass into a swimming pool! My advice? Enjoy a glass or two while actively feeding your baby. Above all, ensure that you can safely care for your baby and meet all their needs.
Remember, the approach to drinking alcohol may differ from when you're breastfeeding a newborn who feeds every 1-3 hours, to when you're nursing a three-year-old who feeds just a few times a day. Use common sense, keep a clear head, protect your milk supply, and always prioritize your baby's safety.
Here's to a joyful, guilt-free holiday season!
Until our next LactaChat
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Maija Bruun, et al. “Alcohol and Breastfeeding.” Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology, vol. 114, no. 2, 2013, pp. 168–173., Link
Alcohol - Drugs and Lactation Database (Lactmed) - NCBI Bookshelf: Link
- “Alcohol’ s Effect on Lactation.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services