Can I still breastfeed my baby after having one beer, or will it harm my baby? And if I go out for an evening and drink enough alcohol to get tipsy, when is it safe for me to breastfeed again? How many times should I pCan I still breastfeed my baby after having one beer, or will it harm my baby? And if I go out for an evening and drink enough alcohol to get tipsy, when is it safe for me to breastfeed again? How many times should I pump and dispose of the milk after drinking?
You've asked some great questions, all of which have to do with how much alcohol the baby
actually receives when a nursing mother drinks an alcoholic beverage. Interestingly, all the alcohol you drink quickly passes into your bloodstream and then quickly into your breast milk. After you drink an alcoholic beverage, your blood alcohol level (which we all know about from driver's education) and your breast milk alcohol level are pretty much the same. Similarly, your body breaks down the alcohol in your blood and your breast milk at the same rate. Alcohol doesn't store or build up in breast milk. All this means that your baby
receives the same dose of alcohol that you do.
With this in mind, one beer on an occasional evening probably won't harm your baby
. If you drink enough to feel tipsy, however, and you nurse while you're tipsy, your baby
will feel the effects of the alcohol, too. Since your baby
is smaller than you, he will probably feel more of the sedative effect, which could be dangerous. It's probably okay to resume breast-feeding when you no longer feel the effects of the alcohol yourself. If that's longer than a few hours, you may have to pump and discard some milk.
I should add that alcoholic beverages have historically been thought to improve a breastfeeding
woman's milk production and appetite. Controlled studies have shown no actual increase in milk production and perhaps even some infant
aversion to the taste or smell of breast milk tainted with alcohol. Nonetheless, an occasional alcoholic beverage may relax an anxious nursing mother and thereby allow more normal milk letdown. Pregnant women need to remain cautious about alcohol consumption.