18 answers

Drunk While Breastfeeding - What Now?

My daughter is 2 years and 2 months old and still breastfeeds. She does this more for comfort than sustenance and on the days I work, she does not miss my milk, but when I come home at 6 pm, she feeds and she feeds before falling asleep. I generally have a glass of wine or two with dinner, and wait the recommended 2.5 hours per drink before feeding her to be safe. (She goes to bed at 10 pm and sleeps until 9 am, nursing a couple of times during the night as older nursing babies generally do).

But on 4th of July yesterday, I drank several glasses of wine at a party I hosted, between the hours of 3 and 10 pm (like 6-7 glasses!) figuring I would tell her "No, no boopa tonight (her word for Mommy's breast), Mommy had wine" and wait until early morning to feed her. I'd done this last 4th of July and there was no problem. Stupid me, I forgot that a year ago I could supplement with a bottle for the comfort factor, but she's way beyond that now and last night insisted on me or nothing. So she freaked out at bedtime and wailed and wailed, getting all redfaced, and tear streaked (she rarely cries) until I finally relented and let her drink from me.

I've done my research, I know that no one tells you it is "okay" to nurse a baby when you wouldn't get behind the wheel, and while I was not stumbling drunk, I stil would not have driven in that condition so I qualify as drunk I'm sure. Now here is my question: Could I have done real harm to my baby? Or perhaps was that tainted breastmilk less dangerous that the big warnings out there make it sound seeing as how she is 26 months old and that she really doesn't drink much at a "sitting". Unlike an infant who might drink 4-6 ounces of breastmilk at a feeding, I'd be surprised if my baby was getting an ounce at night. So taking that into account, along with her age, should I be worried?

Thank you so much for any educated advice you can offer me. I am up at 6 am stewing with worry, and feeling like a horrible mom. I sweare if I could wean her I would, but she loves my breast so much, I just can't take it away from her just yet.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Don't worry, she'll get over it and she is eating solids anyway, so sit her down with a banana or an apple (organic preferably). No need to feel guilty, at least she has been breast-fed many, many times. A huge number of kids sadly don't even get anywhere near a human nipple.

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I wouldn't worry about it... if you had given her an ounce of straight alcohol, that probably would have been bad, but the level of alcohol in breastmilk is exactly the same as in your blood-- which means you may have had .01 percent of your milk be alcohol X 1 oz of milk... not worth even speaking of.
(Not to say that it should be an everyday thing!)

I would be a little worried though about not being able to set limits with a kid that big. If she had wanted ice cream at bedtime, would you have given it to her even if she had freaked out? It is time to start getting her used to the idea that you are in charge-- especially of YOUR body. That is going to be important for her as she learns about good/bad touches, etc.-- and just in general. If she cries herself to sleep, she cries herself to sleep. Better than giving her something that you don't know at the time is safe, and better than teaching her that if she throws a big enough fit, she'll get what she wants.

Easy for me to say, not having had to make the decision in the moment, eh? :-)

6 moms found this helpful

I am sure it didn't do any harm, however I would rethink why you can't give up drinking altogether while you are still nursing. Breastfeeding a choice and doing it means a sacrifice on mom's part. That means eating healthy, and no alcohol!!!! If you can't make the commitment or sacrifice any longer then I would suggest you ween her off. Can't have it both ways!!

6 moms found this helpful

I'm a trained LC, though I'm not finished with my clinical hours for certification. I think I can tell you with confidence that while you might have helped her fall asleep faster last night, you have done no lasting harm physiologically. Don't do it again, though. The last thing you want is for tipsy or drunk to be a comfortable feeling for her, but if it is one single occasion in her life and she's eating solids and drinking an ounce or two of milk you have not hurt her. Forgive yourself.

For future reference, though, babies don't cry blood and no matter how heartbroken she is, it is better to let her cry herself to sleep than give her spiked milk. She'll get over it by morning and there will be no questions and no regrets.

3 moms found this helpful

Your baby is fine. There is no damage. You are not a bad mother. Repeat until you remember that you are human, mistakes happen, and our children are incredibly resilient! Just think of it as a reminder to watch your alcohol intake and prepare for a possible little overindulgence next time. And enjoy your nursing days with your baby girl!

1 mom found this helpful

No wonder so many Moms tell me LCs are a hit or miss. Seems not even 'trained' LCs always know what they are talking about... If possible, search for IBCLCs - they have a more in depth knowledge, experience and well rounded idea on how best to help and express a realistic desire to help.

****If you were not drunk - it is still fine to breastfeed. Buzzing, feeling good, having 3-4 drinks - all fine. The body is an amazing system - - the Mother's body will filter thru most of the bad stuff (lack of proper nutrition, medications, alcohol, etc) and give the baby the best the Mother can offer thru her breastmilk.****

Most other nations breastfeed their children thru 3 years old, if not longer... do you REALLY think they give up drinking for that long? Nope... because their isn't a need. Excessive ANYTHING is bad, so if you are stumbling drunk, of course do not breastfeed... but if you just had enough to be feeling good and 'buzzed' feel safe knowing your body will handle the filtering of our breastmilk before the child gets it...

I am a child led weaning advocate. My daughter didn't completely wean herself until just recently, like June 2010 and she will be 5 in September.

1 mom found this helpful

While I wouldn't encourage you to do that again until she's weaned, I wouldn't worry too much. Only 2% of what you drink goes into your breastmilk and if she's only suckling, then she didn't get much.

1 mom found this helpful

The amount of alcohol in your milk is the same as the amount of alcohol in your blood. So if you were legally too drunk to drive, it was .08% alcohol. Fresh orange juice and grapes have more alcohol than that naturally. So does non-alcoholic beer. It's officially a trace amount.

That's an issue in a tiny newborn whose liver isn't up and running yet, but not in a healthy toddler. Good for you for nursing her and giving her what she needs! And don't stress over the alcohol, seriously.

1 mom found this helpful

I would not worry about it if I were you. Our grandson is 29 months old and still nurses, as you say, more for comfort than nutrition. I know that my daughter will have the occassional beer or glass of wine and believe me she is one who has researched this COMPLETELY and if there were any danger to her son she would not be drinking that beer or wine!!!
I also need to comment on what Elizabeth said about "setting limits"...wanting to nurse is different than wanting a bowl of ice cream or a drink of coke!!! I never...NEVER refused to allow my children to nurse when they wanted to , unless it was for a safety issue, for instance, if I was driving at the time. You keep doing what you are doing....it is so rare to find Mama's that are still nursing at this age...good for you AND good for your precious little girl!!!

1 mom found this helpful

She's perfectly fine. Our bodies are a lot better filtration system than a lot of people give them credit for. In actuality the amount of alcohol passed through breaskmilk is minute. Especially for a big girl like your daughter. The danger is with infants because just enough passes through to make them sleep a bit deeper and SIDS is already a risk at that age. I've done all of my homework since I'm also a 2 1/2 year at a stretch, maybe even 3 this time, nursing mommy. You can have a few drinks without harming your daughter. I wouldn't have recommended it 2 years ago when she was very little, but at this age and with as little as she's getting any more, no big deal.

Be at ease.

1 mom found this helpful

Relax! She's fine!

All the warnings you hear about alcohol and pregnancy and breastfeeding are entirely overblown. No doctor, in the U.S., will ever say any amount of alcohol is OK because of their fear of lawsuits. There has been NO scientific study that shows that reasonable amounts of alcohol during pregnancy or breastfeeding cause any problems for babies.

1 mom found this helpful

OK, I'm smiling. You're a good mom, don't worry.
-B.

1 mom found this helpful

Don't worry another second! I worry more about you still up several times a night nursing a 2 year old! Your body works as a natural filter for your breastmilk, so if she got any "wine" at all, it was in the most minute amounts. It won't hurt her this once either! The problems are caused by women who are downing quite a bit of booze on a daily basis and nursing all the while.

1 mom found this helpful

I wouldn't worry about it , but I wouldn't make a habit out of it. If alcohol affects your blood, it affects your breastmilk but I'm sure not a heck of a lot.

No, nothing terrible is going to happen. It is one thing to worry about drinking alcohol in pregnancy, and despite what a previous poster has said, there IS plenty to be worried about and the risks are not overblown. The amount of alcohol that might get into breastmilk would be so minute, and your daughter isn't a baby so if you think about pound for pound of bodyweight, putting that into an 8 pound infant vs a 25 pound toddler, the infant would get 3x as much. Remember it is not straight alcohol going in. The breastmilk isnt "tainted" and there is no proof that mom drinking alcohol and breastfeeding causes any harm at all. This is different than drinking when you are pregnant

I always drank a little while breastfeeding and tried to wait, but sometimes my little ones were awake and needed it sooner. You spread it out so I'm sure she's fine.

I'm totally annoyed by the few moms here who are criticizing you. You are nursing a 2 year old! Great job!!!! (I'm guessing the judgmental attitudes came from first time moms who have never even breastfed a toddler, but either way - I've learned that those moms who need to condemn another are the ones to stay away from. they are energy suckers who need to be "better" than other moms, b/c of their own insecurities!)

Although your daughter is still getting breastmilk consumption advantages - it's not to satisfy her nutritional needs - and I would be shocked if she was getting more than a few ounces at this point. You averaged a drink an hour at a party. Big deal. Did you eat and drink water? I seriously doubt that your breastmilk was even contaminated - and I have no doubt that it wasn't enough to cause harm or discomfort for your child. Warnings have to be given for the total ignorant. You get to live and are still a great mom. Breast feeding is a lot about sacrifice and it is important to think about timing and alcohol consumption in that first year when they are nursing a LOT and OFTEN.
let the negative comments go and be at peace.

if anything - (and I mean this as the friendliest advice ever!!!) - it's probably time for your 2 year old to have a more kid friendly bedtime, so that you can relax and regain your lifestyle without these worries. You might be surprised to find that your kiddo can be shifted to a 7:00 bed time (eventually) and still get a solid 12 hours of sleep.

Good luck and keep up the great work!

p.s.
just in case it makes it better to know this - I breastfed both of my kids and am currently breast feeding my 25 month old, I am a doula on path to becoming a midwife and my husband is 1/2 way through medical school. I don't take these things lightly and I have strong convictions, b/c I do as much research and try to be as informed as possible :)

sorry not trying to be a jerk, but I really wish that you did not nurse her while drinking. I am glad that I get the feeling you are regreting it and will not do it again. I know it is hard when they cry and want milk, but you are right she did not NEED it she just wanted it for comfort/love ect. YOU wanted to soothe her and wanted her to sleep so YOU gave in, (which I do understand) but that was for your benfit not heres. My LAC did tell me that you can drink while nursing as long as you feel totally fine then your milk will be fine, but I never risked it. I have not touched a drink since we started trying, I am just cautious. I dont think you did any damage really but honestly it is not a good idea, you would never let her drink wine so dont let her get any from your milk. agian not trying to be a b(&^% to you so sorry. Glad you are still nursing, it is not easy, you have to make a lot of scarafices, and most people quit early on so congrats on that just please be more careful if you are going to continue. I still nurse at 19 mo so I do know how it is to nurse a toddler.

Don't worry, she'll get over it and she is eating solids anyway, so sit her down with a banana or an apple (organic preferably). No need to feel guilty, at least she has been breast-fed many, many times. A huge number of kids sadly don't even get anywhere near a human nipple.

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