29 answers

Wine Consumption While Breastfeeding - Is It Okay If I Am Supplementing?

I have read so much conflicting info on alcohol consumption and breastfeeding as of late. And now I am just plain angry that I can't get a consistent answer. Maybe you all can help. I am breastfeeding my 6-week-old infant and have had the occasional glass or two of wine with dinner. When I do this, I am careful to abstain from breastfeeding - or from pumping - for the suggested 5 or so hours afterwards, usually longer. I instead supplement with pre-pumped breastmilk or with formula. So if I have my wine at 7 pm let's say, (two 5 ounces glasses), I will not give the baby my milk until around 1 or 2 am. From what I understand, all alcohol has been metabolized by my body and thus out of my breastmilk by this point. (And my pediatrician knows I supplement one or two feedings a day with formula and says that is fine, in fact it enables me to avoid a vitamin D supplement.) So here is my question: What if I decided to have two glasses of wine EVERY night? If I am literally waiting for the alcohol to be eliminated from my breastmilk, what is the harm in this? I have a supportive husband so do not fear that I am caring for my baby while under the influence. I am just just trying to figure out what is so bad about alcohol consumption when one is careful with timing and alternative nutritive sources while drinking? Am I endangering my baby by enjoying one or two glasses of wine in the evening once my husband is home? But how can I be if she never drinks a sip of tainted breastmilk? Your educated thoughts are much appreciated!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Well my daughter is now 20 months old and I am still breastfeeding - Thanks to those of you who didn't make me feel like a wicked person and offered supportive advice. I did go back to work when the baby was 3 months, and fortunately was able to work 2 days at home. I pumped every day at work very successfully for 18 months, and my baby was almost exclusively breastfed for that time, with 1 feeding a day of formula then later of whole milk usually right before bed (after I had had my glass or two of wine). I continued to time my wine consumption the whole time, leaving 2.5 hours between drinking and feeding per glass of wine and did purchase milkscreen based on someone's suggestion. I am only bothering to respond now to let those of you new moms who enjoy wine and abstained during your nine months of pregnancy and now fear breastfeeding because you'd like to go back to being you, that you can have it both ways. Like I said, my daughter is almost two, and we still breastfeed during the night and during my days with her, or when I first get home from work. It is a wonderful bonding thing she and I do, and even though I work, I feel like my daughter and I are so extremely close, and she is the happiest, most lovable baby girl I could ever ask for. I guess it comes down to doing what is going to make you happy as a mom because then you can be present during all the important moments, and she will feel your positive good energy when you are with her, if you are happy. I have LOVED being a mom these first 20 months and I don't feel guilty that I drank wine with my dinner, because I cook extremely well-rounded meals every night (even on days I work), which my baby happily devours, while she sits at the table every night with my husband and myself. I work full time, keep a safe clean house for her to play in, and talk to her constantly during my 4 days home with her. So if my personal little relaxing ritual was a glass or two of wine at night, I daresay my baby is better off for it. Because she has a happy happy mommy who gives her tons of love and praise, and carries a lot of responsibility at home and at work. I think someday she'll understand that that was my way of unwinding at night and know that it has nothing to do with her.

Featured Answers

If you have one glass of wine with dinner I think it is fine. But having two or more a day isn't a really good idea, it can inhibit the supply of breastmilk and could affect the baby, especially one so young.

Here is info about it from kellymom:

http://www.kellymom.com/health/lifestyle/alcohol.html

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

Since you are unsure and can't get a straight answer- it probably means that there are no definitive answers! Is it really such a big deal to wait a few more months before drinking every night? In the big picture is that wine so important to you that it might endanger your child?
Why do you feel the need to have 2 glasses of wine every night? I know that shortly after I had my daughters- 2 glasses of wine would have knocked me over!!!
That is a lot of drinking and in my opinion you should examine why you need to drink so much in the first place. Wine is nice for a treat- but I don't understand why you want to drink it every day! It's probably not the best example to set for your child.
It just seems odd to me and you might want to think about your reason behind this want.
Good luck,
S.

2 moms found this helpful

I am a lactation counselor, and having a glass of wine or two is perfectly fine, AND you can still nurse your baby as long as you don't feel the effects of the alcohol. The amount that is in your milk after you consume it is little to none, as long as you are not buzzed or intoxicated. Pediatricians unfortunately don't know much about breastfeeding...ask a lactation consultant if you really need the reassurance. Those that have been educated on breastfeeding (they actually don't teach this in medical school!) know that you can safely enjoy adult beverages and breastfeed.

As far as the vitamin d goes...your baby will get plenty from just sitting near a sunny window. We all get vitamin d from the sun, it is better absorbed that way. You don't need to feed her formula for her to get it. I have 3 children, formula has never touched their lips, and none of them are vitamin d deficient.

I would go to a LeLeche League meeting where you can meet other women who are nursing and ask some of the experts there about your questions. You would be surprised at what you will find out about breastfeeding, and that you don't need to have all of these restrictions on yourself. Breastfeeding is a natural beautiful experience to share between mother and child, not something we should be so nervous and concerned about.

2 moms found this helpful

As with anything, moderation is the key. When I had my first child, I was really stressed out. So every night I had a glass of wine as I started her bedtime nursing. It allowed both of us to relax and there were no adverse effects. I spoke to my daughter's pediatrician before I started doing it, and her pediatrician agreed that there was no harm in what I was doing.

1 mom found this helpful

Read up on your own about how long it takes for alcohol to metabolize from the body. How much fat you carry on your body will effect the rate I'd imagine as fat absorbs a lot of toxins as well as the liver. Breast milk is fatty as well, so it may absorb it, but for how long is something you need to find out for yourself unfortunately.

Because our culture is so in love with alcohol, its difficult to get objective information on the effects of alcohol consumption. Your best bet is to research online with independent scientific journals or non-profit resources that specialize in issues related to alcohol and children.

The fact remains that caution should be your bi-word. The infant brain is still in the early development stages and forming important neural and tissue connections. Any negative effects from the environment can have a deleterious effect on that development, thus caution must prevail.

Would it be impossible for you to give up your after dinner wine for the time that you are breastfeeding? Considering the length of your life and the importance of your child's development, you might want to look carefully at the big picture before getting all stressed out about how to control your desire to imbibe.

Sounds like you are going through a lot of trouble for a couple glasses of wine. Is it worth it? Would a few months of abstinence be that difficult? I don't want to sound preachy, but if you feel the "need" to have alcohol every night now, what will you do as the child gets older and things get really stressful? I would suggest that possibly you might want to check yourself -- do without for a while, it will do you good as well as the baby!

BTW -- My mother was an alcoholic and drank lightly throughout all her pregnancies and during nursing. She had numerous miscarriages, had one child very premature who still has some mental disabilities and I have had to suffer with lifelong problems with memory and depression problems that seem to come from nowhere. How do I know it wasn't because of my mother's drinking?

I'd say its not worth the risk.

1 mom found this helpful

If you are worried, they do sell test strips at Babies R Us that will tell you if there is alcohol in your breastmilk. That way you can eliminate the need to guess!!

1 mom found this helpful

Whoever told you you can't nurse if you have a glass of wine is giving you outdated advice...new research shows that you can have up to 2 glasses of wine or coffee and still nurse. Thank goodness for me!
You can read more about this at la leche league's website.

1 mom found this helpful

If you have one glass of wine with dinner I think it is fine. But having two or more a day isn't a really good idea, it can inhibit the supply of breastmilk and could affect the baby, especially one so young.

Here is info about it from kellymom:

http://www.kellymom.com/health/lifestyle/alcohol.html

1 mom found this helpful

J. -
From reading your question I feel like there is more to it than just nutrition. Why do you need 2 glasses a wine once or twice a week, if not every night? And why is this such a concern with everything else that happens with a first child? Alcohol in general is dehydrating and not beneficial to your health, and you need to stay as healthy as possible while breastfeeding and taking care of a new baby. Every time you go a long period without pumping or breastfeeding you are teaching your body that the baby doesn't need milk during this time and eventually you won't be producing enough milk. As your baby gets older, and when you return to work you will need more milk for pumping etc. You said that you are already supplementing with formula, try not to. Breastmilk is so fundamental for giving your baby the best possible health, is it really worth a couple glasses of wine? Please, save your boozing for a special night out with the hubby and enjoy your little one now, it goes so fast!

1 mom found this helpful

your fine, and doing the right thing. just make sure your pumping out the breast milk an hour or so before you nurse her, which I think your prob already doing and all will be fine.

If you have one glass its completely safe to nurse your baby after or during your consumption (as long as its a serving of wine and not a lrg glass or goblet). I always used the pump and dump method if consuming more than one glass. That way you keep your milk flow consistent and although its a bummer to have to dump liquid gold you know you are being safe.
Hope that helps
S

it's ok to have a glass of wine or two even if you are not giving any bottles at all. the alcohol concentration in breastmilk is very very low.

hopefully this link might help you:
http://kellymom.com/health/lifestyle/alcohol.html

edited to add: i see that previous posters have already directed you to kellymom.com. it's a GREAT resource for breastfeeding....lots of info. sorry that even here you are STILL getting conflicting advice.

I was told by my lactation consultant that it takes 2 hours for the wine to metabolize. That doesn't mean that you can have multiple drinks and wait 2 hours. In general I was told that if I feel any effects of the alcohol after that time period so will my daughter. Hope that helps.

It actually only takes 2 hours for the alcohol to get out of your breast milk HOWEVER that does also depend on how much "alcohol" you are drinking at one time. I would continue doing what you are doing except you only have to wait for 2 hrs after drinking the wine not 5 hrs! If you want 2 glasses of wine then yes you will have to wait 4-5 hrs before nursing her again. I however would just not chance it and I would either pump before drinking the wine or formula feed until the next
day! There is nothing wrong with supplementing with formula but I found it to be a pain to pump all the time!!

Bonnie D is crazy I would never give my kid tainted breast milk I would rather give them formula & not risk hurting my baby!!!!

Please ignore all the people trying to make you feel bad about a glass or two of wine. Do what you need to or want to do, your baby will be fine. If I have a drink, I feed her with no problem. I don't pump and dump unless I'm feeling drunk (which is a rarity with two little ones!)Enjoy your wine, supplement if that works or nurse her if that works better...and please don't feel guilty!

You should be fine - go Here: http://www.kellymom.com/health/lifestyle/alcohol.html

This site is amazing with information, and that article should answer all of your questions. The only other thing I'd add is that if you cosleep, drinking alcohol before going to bed isn't a great idea.

Good Luck!

They say after 2 hrs after alcohol consumption its okay to nurse if its a real concern talk to your ob and your ped. and see what they have to say.

I am SO on the other side of this. I grew up with my mother drinking a beer before or while nursing. The beer helps thicken your milk and therefore helps the baby sleep a little better because they are a little more full.

I have never had a drink and then pumped and dumped. I always nursed my kids after I had a drink. There was never an issue and they slept great.

Mind you my kids are now 8, almost 6, and 3, and things chage on the medical spectrum on a regular basis. But if I were to have another baby, not that plan to, I would not change a thing. One beer or glass of wine never made me tipsy and I was in complete control over my faculties and my baby.

Oh happy day. I too wanted a glass of wine or an alcholoic beverage after I had my daughter. My doctor told me that I only had to wait for 1 hour per drink (8OZ)
And my daughter never seemed to get drunk of me.

You might try this product:

http://www.milkscreen-moms.com/

I've never used it, but it sounds intriguing and would be a way to find out exactly how much alcohol is gettng into your milk.

Hi J.:

When my son, now 18 months was breast feeding I used to have one glass of wine with dinner every night because I did supplement with formula before bed time. In the breast feeding course I took through the hospital, the nurse mentioned that one or two glasses of wine was okay. She said to wait at least two hours before feeding. Before becoming pregnant, I used to drink 2 glasses each night before bed. So, when nursing I started with one drink at night and gradually went up to two when my son began taking more formula. He's a healthy, happy and intelligent 18 month old! I feel as long as you're careful there should be no worries. Obviously, you can't get drunk and breast feed, but a little shouldn't be harmful.

If you're concerned about the subject, why not err on the side of caution and go for only one glass a night? It seems safer. You'd hate to find out after the fact that two glasses "put you over the top" and ended up affecting your baby. The chances of that might be slim, but why risk it? I commend your choice to breastfeed and to educate yourself about the subject!

J.,
You are totally fine! In fact, my OB recommended that I drink a glass of beer to help with the let-down. Of course, he was careful to mention that I should not drink it every time I nurse, but even drinking one glass of wine (to help you relax and let down) and then nursing right away isn't a crime. So, the way you are doing it--letting it go through your system completely and supplementing is certainly okay. My only suggestion, even though I don't know your exact situation in this, is that when your baby gets the supplement, you pump and dump. That way, if you do choose to forgo the wine one evening and want to nurse, the milk will be there.

No worries!

I agree with the other mom, who said, why two glasses? Why not just one glass. I know I would be drunk after two glasses of wine. If I ever drank alchohol, my milk was very watery, like my body was trying to expel it somehow. There is still alcohol in your breastmilk, but I could never find consistent answers either. Two glasses of wine a night isn't good for your health, but if you aren't breastfeeding, shouldn't harm the baby. The breastmilk might be kind of watery like mine was so I would pump and dump a little before breastfeeding. Stick with one small glass and you should be fine.

This is the answer that I got from my lactation consultant. You cannot nurse when you are feeling tipsy, then you will pass it to the baby. Since you metabolize one drink per hour then as long as you are not nursing within that hour you are fine, no need to pump and dump or to abstain for prolonged periods of time. If you are feeling tipsy then don't nurse. The alcohol level in your milk correlates with your blood alcohol level, once you've metabolized it from your blood, it is out of your milk as well. Just to be sure, I recommend contacting a local lactation consultant.

Hi J.! First of all, congratulations on your new baby girl! I enjoy wine as well, and went through the same frustration you did, as well as your ultimate decision. I decided the best was to feed or pump myself completely empty before drinking as to not waste any "good milk". Then if I enjoyed only 1 or possibly 2, i could wait and feed my babe on the next feeding. On the rare nights that I had 3 or 4, I would "pump and dump" to get rid of the tainted milk, but still keeping my body's milk supply up. Those nights I would of course sub the pumped milk or formula. It sounds like you're doing a great job, motherhood deserves a little break every now and then - we gotta keep sane too! My only little concern, however, is that you asked if it was okay EVERY NIGHT. I would say not, not for your baby's health, but your own. All day long alone with a baby is the sweetest, but can be very tiresome and frustrating. (oh honey, i know!!) Looking foward to someone coming home is the best, but if that also entails looking foward to a nightly escape to vino, it might become too much of a habit as the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm sure you're a great mom, and a great person so i'm sure you will make all the right decisions as a mom and wife. I just wanted to let you know that someone is just like you - and raising a perfectly healthy baby (& sane mommy)

I wouldn't drink just for the simple fact that you are breast feeding. Period. You want your baby to be healthy and are obviously breastfeeding for that exact reason... Whether people say it's safe or not, do it for your baby... Also, the more wine you consume - breastfeeding or not - the more you will lose sleep (with white wines anyway). If you have so many unanswered questions / contradicting answers, then just don't drink the wine... GOOD LUCK!

There are a lot of women on here taht are tyring to make you feel bad. It is a personal decision for you. I drank wine (which by the way, is heart healthy when it's red wine) almost daily and continued to nurse both of my children.

Have you ever stopped to think about what women in Italy do? They continue to drink their wine and they don't worry about it. A lactation consultant gave you adive, and hers was the best. Stop worrying about it. You are doing the right thing.

I wouldn't say I'm educated on the subject, but I have done a great amount of reading on breastfeeding. It seems most books I have read say it is fine, even recommended for increasing milk. Your "tainted" breastmilk is still beter for her than formula, and she certainly doesn't need formula for vitamin D, or any vitamin D supplement at all. I still can't figure out why pediatricians say that. Propaganda from formula companies?
I find that when I have a beer I produce more milk.

I dont know - but it sounds like you are driving yourself crazy with this! Poor thing. Dont stress.

If your child is properly taken care of and your not getting loaded everyday - then your fine. A little wine can be a good thing.

I asked my LC the same questions and she told me that wine is out of your system within 2 hrs of drinking it.

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