42 answers

Drinking Beer While Nursing??

I've heard that drinking an occational beer helps produce more breast milk. Is this true? What is your thoughts on drinking a beer while breastfeeding, how much of the alcohol is transfered to the baby? I just thought I should ask

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Thanks so much for all you helpful advice. I tried many things in the last week, I tried both Mother's Milk and Fenugreek. They did help me a little. But for some reason, after I drank only half of a guiness, I felt more relaxed and was able to let down much more milk. Some of you have mentioned that its the hops or the malt or possibly the yeast in the beer that helps produce more milk. That's not to say I would suggest other mothers do the same, it just worked for me. I am going to try a non-alcoholic beer next time though. Thanks again....

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I drank an ocasional beer to keep my milk it and it worked better than anything out on the market, and my baby did just fine. Try whatever you like, but beer worked the best for me. If you are worried about the alcohol, after you drink the beer just pump and dump than you should be fine.

I was told by my Italian grandma my first day in the hospital to drink a beer, but I think it is more of a myth... however she insisted it was what you do to get the milk plentiful!!! :)

I looked it up in Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. A limited amount of alcohol hasn't been shown to harm the baby. Alcohol in milk peaks at 30-90 mins afterward. Relaxing helps the let-down, which is what someone else said - that's probably where the myth comes from.

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I've breastfed two babies (one for 9mos and the other for 6mos). My pediatritian was actually the one who told me that having a beer will help with milk production. He also told me that it takes your body an hour to metabolize a drink. When I was breastfeeding, I would have one without worrying about causing harm, but if I had a couple, I would wait a few hours. If I felt to full after drinking a couple, I would just pump some milk and throw it out. Hope this helps.

I read through some of the other responses and I think some people could get their opinions across without sounding so judgemental. Some peope have strong opinions against it, but that doesn't mean they should make anyone feel bad for asking about it. I think responding with why would you ever do that is pretty shitty.

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Here's from the Breastfeeding Answer Book, which is La Leche League International's medical text, updated in 2003:
"The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Drugs considers alcohol consumption compatible with breastfeeding, although side effects are noted if alcohol is taken in large amounts. An occasional drink or regular light drinking (one or fewer drinks per day) have not been found to be harmful to the nursing baby.
"Alcohol passes freely into mother's milk and has been found to peak about 30 to 60 minutes after consumption, 60 to 90 minutes when taken with food. Alcohol also passes freely out of mother's milk and her system. It takes a 120 pound woman about two to three hours to eliminate from her body the alcohol in one serving of beer or wine.
"However, the more alcohol that is consumed, the longer it takes for it to be eliminated. It takes up to 13 hours for a 120 pound woman to eliminate the alcohol from one high-alcohol drink. The effects of alcohol on the breastfeeding baby are directly related to the amount the mother consumes.
"Although drinking beer was once recommended to help a mother relax and stimulate her milk supply, two studies found that after mothers consumed alcoholic or non-alcoholic beer, the babies whose mothers received the alcoholic beer nursed more frequently but consumed less milk than the babies whose mothers consumed the non-alcoholic beer. (Other studies are cited than show similar outcomes--more frequent sucking, but less effective overall.)
"Mothers are sometimes told to have an alcoholic drink to help their babies sleep better. One study, however, found that alcohol produced the opposite effect. Although the babies fell asleep sooner, they slept for significantly less time during the three-and-a-half hours after they drank the alcohol-flavored milk compared with the mength of time they slept after they drank human milk alone. The researchers concluded that the alcohol produced changes in the babies' sleep-wake patterns than resulted in less sleep overall.
"Although the American Academy of Pedatrics Commiyyee on Drugs (2001) considers alcohol compatible with breastfeeding, it also lists possible side effects when it is taken in large amounts, such as "drowsiness, deep sleep, weakness, decrease in linear growth, abnormal weight gain," and it notes "maternal ingestion of 1 g/kg daily decreases milk ejection reflex."
"One study found that babies of nursing women who consistently drank moderately to heavily (the amount of alcohl in two or more drinks per day) scored slightly lower on motor development at one year of age than the norm. Mental development was normal in both groups. One flaw of this study is that "breastfed" was defined as receiveing up to 16 ounces of formula per day in supplemental milk or formula. Also, binge drinking, which is more likely to cause damage, was not factored into the results.

There's also some fairly obvious info about how moms with a drinking problem are likely to deal with a variety of breastfeeding problems and symptoms in both themselves and their babies. If you'd like to read the rest of the details or want to know specific info about each study, check out www.llli.org and find a La Leche League Leader in your area. She can give you even more of the nitty-gritty, if you are interested. All LLL services are free, and there is usually a lending library of breastfeeding and parenting books available at meetings for anyone to borrow--it's been a huge asset to me as a mom, and I really recommend being in contact with your local group both for information and for fun.

The gneral alcohol rule is: No more than two drinks per day, but you cannot save them up (no binge drinking).
Personally, I do not drink, but my concerns with drinking and nursing are more about the mom's reactions and reflexes than about the rather limited side effects of the occasional drink on baby. For example, no one who has had any alcohol or other sedative (and I'm even a prude about Nyquil here) should be sleeping with a baby. We all know there's a big difference between a glass of wine with dinner and passed out in a gutter ;) It's up to wise moms to make the best choices for themselves and their families.
Best wishes on your mothering journey!

1 mom found this helpful

A lactation consultant I spoke to with this same question put it this way... if you feel like you can safely drive, you are 100% fine to nurse after drinking. You produce milk from your blood, so it's related to blood alchohol level- same thing that's tested with breathalyzers. Personally, I had a single beer or glass of wine about 3x a week until my baby was 4-5 months old and nursing less often. Now, I have a drink with dinner every night, usually wine, as I love it! My baby goes to sleep at 7, about when I eat/ drink wine, then I don't nurse her until 2am...

I really think a single drink is a complete NON-ISSUE, even if it's daily. Americans are so uptight, it's unbelievable. It's not like drinking while pregnant, where your placenta is a direct line to the fetus.

Do what you think is right. With 16month old twins and a 2 month old, I would bet you need an "occasional drink" ;)

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Truth or fiction?
All I can tell you is that when I was pregnant with my first son, who is now 41, I had an old army doctor. He told me while pregnant to drink a beer a day and I would never have trouble breastfeeding.
He was right, I had enough milk to feed an army. LOL
Pun intended.
The malt in the beer makes very healthy milk.
So that is my two cents worth, good luck.

Actually, water is better. It hydrates more, has no form of sugar, carbonation, or side affects

Hey B.,

Holy cow! I know you already got a lot of responses, but I thought I'd put in my 2 cents anyway. I received a book from my doctor called the Nursing Mother's Companion when I went to my first prenatal appointment. I would highly recommend it, it has EVERYTHING about nursing in it and it is so nice to have a reference. In the book it says that it is okay to have an alcoholic beverage, but moderation is the key so it won't pass through the breast milk. A glass of beer every now and then absolutely will NOT hurt your baby, it even says so in the book, so don't worry about it. I'm not sure if it helps milk production, but I have heard that. Hope this helps!

I have heard that a beer can help you relax and hops can help stimulate breastmilk. If you are concerned about the alcohol there are herbal supplements that can help increase breastmilk. I recommend More Milk Plus, which does contain alcohol, but they make an alcohol free supplement or a capsule that can be a great alternative. Check it out at www.motherlove.com

It worked for me!!! I don't do it very often and usually have less than half a beer. Within three hours of drinking it I am engorged... I make sure I nurse my son right before, drink some and then don't nurse again for four hours. (he's six months old so he eats every four hours) My doctor told me within two hours all of the alchol is absorbed into the blood stream and as long as your not throwing back a couple beers in a row, very little alchol actually gets to the baby.

Geez there are some judgemental women. I would be scared to even ask something because of some of these responses.

Having one beer does help with building up the milk supply or you could drink something with malt in it. Also eat and drink lots of water. And just have your baby nurse as much as you can, that stimulates your milk to come in. I also find that if I go to the store and leave baby home with dad, my milk comes flooding in.

The alcohol will transfer to the baby. Try some chocolate malt ovaltine. I drank it every night while nursing my kids. If I pumped and put it in the fridge, the next morning there was literally a 1/2 inch of cream on the milk! It's easy and good tasting! It's the malt that makes the milk more abundant, not the alcohol.

I can't remember the details of the alcohol 'transfer', I never drank more than 3 alcoholic beverages while I was nursing, and that was less than 2x a month if at all. But My favorite occasional beer while nursing was Negro Modelo...I always woke up very full in the breast the following morning.

I have heard it is the Malt beer, not a regular. I am not a beer drinker, but I am assuming it is NOT something like Budweiser. I tried it with my daughter and my BIL bought me the beer and I never saw that kind before.

There are also more "natural" ways to help. At health food stores the have a mother's milk tea. Also, you can get fenugreek capsules (you will smell a little like maple syrup and so will your urine!) and blessed thistle.

I even had a medication called Reglan/metoclopramide (used for nausea but also helps milk production).

Don't forget you can always try pumping between feedings. (if you can fit in into your schedule.)

Don't beat yourself up if it doesn't work. I tried ALL of that and lost my milk with my daughter. My other two kids were fine!


I have never heard of that. I would say no. Years and years ago my mom drank a beer and then nursed my sister. She got really sick and threw up. It smelled like beer, my dad was grossed out of course. Mom never did it again. I think if you have a beer, make sure it's right after you already nursed your child. IMO I wouldn't do it at all.

I nursed for 15 months. It worked for me, when I felt like I was getting low. Just make sure that it is really dark beer, like Guinness~the lighter stuff doesn't work. Also try taking Fenugreek pills or drinking special teas (Organic Mothers Milk) to help up your milk supply. Those all worked for me.

It is ok to drink a little- the yeast helps the production of milk. Alcohol is the same in your blood as in milk- it's highest concentration is about 1.5-3 hours after you have the drink. one drink won't effect the baby that much- just try to plan your drinks around your babies feeding schedule.

I've had a lot of people tell me that this works, but in my experience drinking beer while nursing had no impact on my milk supply. When I say drinking beer, I'm talking about 1 beer. My guess is that having a beer is enough to relax us and allow our milk to let down, which may seem like it is increasing production.

When my milk supply was low with my second child, I was told that there is something in beer that would help my supply increase - the same is in non-alcoholic beer. I also used Fenugreek and Brewer's Yeast.

Short answers:
Yes--but only dark beer
No--but moderation in all things!

My lactation consultant actually recommended it as something to try and increase milk supply. I'm also taking herbs. However, just any beer is not going to cut it. She said to try some of the local breweries and what it is that helps in the beer is the brewer's yeast. Obviously, you don't want to get inebriated when you're doing this, or you can't breastfeed until you're sober (plus, drinking too much will actually reduce your supply). But one beer shouldn't transfer into the breastmilk. Often, Guinness is a good beer because it also has a higher iron content. I will usually just have a pint of beer with dinner.
The problem with Americans and drinking is that too many of us have an "all or nothing" mentality, whereas moderation is perfectly okay.

I looked it up in Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. A limited amount of alcohol hasn't been shown to harm the baby. Alcohol in milk peaks at 30-90 mins afterward. Relaxing helps the let-down, which is what someone else said - that's probably where the myth comes from.

There are some amazing website to look up the research but here is what I've read. That it increases the taste of the milk (which makes your baby want to drink more, thus making more milk in future), but that it in reality can cause you not to make as much milk.

Google it, there is so much information from doctors out there! Everyone I've heard try to use it for increase milk flow, it didn't work.

I have never looked into this theory much. I, however, would never take the chance.

I absolutely do NOT what ANY trace of alcohol to get to my child EVER.

Plus, you never know these days who the legal system is going to turn. If something where to happen and they found traces of alcohol in your milk, you could fry, even if it was improbable for it to have had an ill effect. (I know this sounds paranoid, but what can I say--I know people who've been traumatised for insignificant things and, sadly, also known people who should have the book thrown at them who are "livin' the life")

I wouldn't chance it with my children and I wouldn't chance it with myself.

I was told by my Italian grandma my first day in the hospital to drink a beer, but I think it is more of a myth... however she insisted it was what you do to get the milk plentiful!!! :)

I drank an ocasional beer to keep my milk it and it worked better than anything out on the market, and my baby did just fine. Try whatever you like, but beer worked the best for me. If you are worried about the alcohol, after you drink the beer just pump and dump than you should be fine.

I tried this- didn't help much for me... but there's a testing kit (at $5 a test, but it was worth it for me) to test the milk for alcohol. Called Milkscreen- you can get it at the breast feeding store in Park Meadows and maybe even Babies R Us. Nice to be able to have a glass of wine and then 30-45 minutes later pump and make sure there's no alcohol in it...

Good luck! The thing that helped me was called Goat's Rue - tasted horrible and you have to take it 1/2 hr before eating/ drinking 3 times a day (PAIN!) but it did work better than Mother's Milk or Fenugreek alone.

You can drink non alcoholic beer.

Well, I'm different than everyone else it seems.. I don't like any risk of alcohol getting to the baby. There are other things you can try first.. Like JUST malt- you can put it in your milk or ice cream. You can also go to the health food stores and get "More Milk Plus" So there are other options besides alcohol...

Hello B.,

I am a nursing mom with a 9 month old son and I had the same questions about drinking. I did not touch a drop during my pregnancy even though everyone said one glass of wine or one beer wont hurt, but I didnt. Now nursing-- I waited until he was like 2 months old and on a some what schedule, and I would have a beer or glass of wine(no more than two) after I nursed him and knew he would sleep for awhile or not need a feeding for a few hours. Realistically- it takes about 2 hours for whatever you eat or drink to get into your milk, and its not like everything goes straight there- just some stuff. I worried about and asked the doctor and he said it would be alright. If I had more than two drinks, I would pump when I was done drinking/ before nursing just to be on the safe side. I always had milk frozen in the freezer in case I didnt feel comfortable nusring him.
Its not easy to drink and nurse, you have to plan if you want to actually have a night out- but if your staying around the house and drink moderatly (1 drink and hour- something like that), you'll be alright. I always looked at like if I could actually start feeling "tipsy" (which after not drinking for a year, it doesnt take much) then you know you need to pump and dump, but if you have a few and still feel normal and were pacing it out over time, I wouldnt worry.
Its relaxing to have a glass of wine or beer after a long day of dealing with the baby, so dont feel bad.
I have had some people look at me weird, but you know what is best for you and the baby.
My grandmother from Holand actually told me that when she had kids in Holland, its recommended for nursing moms to drink a glass of dark beer a day. So who knows. But my son is healthy and fine and I have nursed and drank.
Hope some of this helps, sorry for rambling on.
Let me know if you have any other questions with this as I am still going through it all and seeing what works and what doesnt.
Take care and good luck

My feeling is that it is one of those things that people tell moms because we will do anything to help our child. My personal advise is to call the La Leche League with any questions and to talk to a nursing consultant. There are many things that we can do to increase ur milk supply and theyknow all of them. Main things that affect milk production are sleep, calories, fluid, and supply and demand. Usually the more that your baby requires the more your body will produce. Pumping usually only relieves full breasts. Please talk to people that specialize in nursing. I nursed my daughter and did just fine without any beer. You have to decide for yourself what you feel comfortable with.

Alcohol does pass through to breast milk. An occaisonal drink may not hurt, but you wouldn't want to give your baby alcohol any other way, so I'd avoid giving baby any in the milk. If you didn't drink before pregnancy, then don't start even an occaisional drink now just to build milk supply - there are better ways to do that!

Pumping and dumping is a total myth. I drink dark beer-just a bottle/glass if I'd like something to drink. Guinness has always seemed to help with milk production (and relaxation!) and it was the only beer I actually wanted during pregnancy and after, so I take that as a sign. I've also had a glass of wine or drink from time to time, but I keep it to about one. The United States is definitely the most uptight when it comes to alcohol, primarily because we are so litigious. Doctors tell you not to do it all because they don't want to get sued. But ultimately, you'll find out from most of them that one, particularly dark beer, is fine--even during pregnancy (though most of us are too scared to do that, which is probably best.) Enjoy your drink, feed your babies and take care!

I think it's an old wives tale personally. I am breastfeeding my baby right now too, and there's no way I would take a chance on drinking alcohol and have it transfered to the baby. There's many other ways to increase your milk supply. Try pumping once or twice and day on top of breastfeeding, and just store the extra milk in the fridge.

My sister in law would have a beer after her last feeding of the night and it helped with her milk supply quite a bit. There's nothing wrong with it and none of the alcohol will transfer to the child especially if it's in the evening and you just have one. There's no harm in it at all!

Hi B.,

I drank while nursing...my doctor said it was fine, but just keep it to one beer or glass of wine. He said it helps relax the mother and the baby will not get much alcohol from just one drink. Any more than one drink, however, and you're going to have to "pump and dump!"

Good luck :)


My suggestion, is DON'T Drink beer, or any other alchoholic drink. You don't want to transfer that to your baby. The best thing to get your milk production up is water and milk. And eating healthy, 3-6 times a day. That is the best for your baby.

Hi B.,

My mom said she drank beer occasionally while nursing, but I think most folks steer away from that option now. Barley does help milk production (somewhat related to beer, I guess), as does oatmeal. Fenugreek is helpful too, and many folks have mentioned that here. A great resource for all sorts of breastfeeding questions is www.kellymom.com. There is a TON of information there! (That's where I learned about Fenugreek, for example.) Blessings!

I had this down to a science when I was nursing. To be honest, I don't remember how I worked it out since it's been over a year since I nursed my younger one and four years since I nursed my older boy. I'm not that helpful for giving you the exact amount, etc. However, I did want to let you know that I had an occasional drink when I was both pregnant and nursing my two boys. They both turned out healthy and happy.

Ok, let me edit/reword and apologize. I sincerely didn't mean it as judgemental; only a thoughtful question. (I am sorry it came across wrong to Erin.) I personally would not take the chance that some alcohol would get to the baby. Maybe use formula for a few feedings? You can never be too careful.I have heard that root beer might provide the same help, but that might be an old wives' tale. There are also herbs out there to help with milk supply.

Hi B.,

I am a Birthing Coach. I think you have a great question here. When I was growing up, my mom would have a beer when she nursed my brothers and she swore by the remedy. With what we know today, I would recommend that you drink non-alcoholic beer to help increase production if this is what you choose.
There are a couple of other things you can try as well. A nursing mom needs about 3,000 calories a day for proper milk production, and about 4 liters of water per day. If you are already doing these things, my clients often use an herb called "Fenugreek" that naturally helps boost your milk production.



I don't know if it helps with increasing breastmilk, but it isn't going to hurt the baby - especially if you drink it an hour or two before nursing. Actually, I was having a hard time with my daughter nursing and my doctor said I should have a half glass of wine to help relax me - it helped. Of course, I didn't do it at every nursing, just the really bad times. She is now a very healthy smart 11 year old. If you have more than one drink between nursings, I would express the milk and not let the baby have that.
Take Care,

I just delivered my fourth baby at Swedish and received new information regarding alcohol and breastfeeding. With the first three it was said you could drink but express the milk after drinking and throw it out. But now with this last baby it was stated in no uncertain terms that the alcohol does not stay in the milk for very long (I don't recall the exact time but I think less than an hour)so it is not necessary to pump the "bad" milk out. The big issue they wanted to pass along was that the alcohol will decrease the amount of breast milk produced by quite a bit so your baby will not get enough.

There was an old wive's tale that I had heard about drinking a beer helping but I think it was in reference for a mother to relax thereby having an easier time with let down, not necessarily an actual measurable increase in milk.

Hope this helps---FWIW, I just put my breastfed four month old to bed and am drinking a margarita while I am typing this. ;0)

Best wishes.

B., my word, while nursing,
to smoking and drinking ANY even tiniest amount
is absolutely NO.
NO, NO, and NO !!!

Opinions vary, but the chemistry of those things is absolutely unnecessary for a baby: remember, EVERYTHING affects them 100 times more than adults. The simple arithmetics will make ANY addition of the sort into the chemistry of the baby's food as harmful. While their brain grows, it is especially important.

it is up to any mom to decide, after all,
but we need to acknowledge:
our children are not always reaching their utmost potentiality of their mental and physical capabilities due to parents' making wrong decisions in a very crucial time of their growth.

My choice has been: NO, NO, NO! and I stick to my guns.

All the best, B.!

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