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.

1 mom found this helpful

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" ;)

1 mom found this helpful

B.,

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.

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