Alcohol and Breastfeeding??

Updated on July 18, 2007
A.H. asks from Modesto, CA
17 answers

Hiya ladies! I am nursing my 2nd child - 4 1/2 week old boy. With my first, I had almost no alcohol while nursing - MAYBE an occassional half a glass of wine, but that was it. This time, I really enjoy having a glass of wine or a beer with dinner. I don't typically "feel" the alcohol and am quite conscious of when I next breast feed. I have read that the "pump and dump" idea of pumping the alcohol laden milk is not effective because breast milk doesn't hold the alcohol, rather it is like blood and holds it until it wears out...??
Ok, so here's the real question. Is my guilt unreasonable? a glass of wine or a beer about 4 times a week - horrible mom? or ok to do?
:) thanks for your feedback!

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So What Happened?

I am going to continue to have a single glass of wine or a single beer with a meal. I didn't mean to imply that I drink heavily or rely on alcohol - merely enjoy the taste with some meals (as I did pre-pregnancy). I also have decided to substitute Non-alcoholic beer to allow me the taste without any implications - if there are any!
Thanks for your feedback - ALL OF IT, EVEN THE FEEDBACK THAT IMPLIES I AM AN ACTUAL ALCOHOLIC! :) really. I appreciate the forum we have here to share our experiences and our views. For the majority of you who gave documented support that I am not jeapordizing my child by having A glass of wine or A beer a few times a week with a meal, thanks. It's always good to be right, but also great to have back up information (from experts)! Again, thanks to all!

More Answers

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E.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

A.,

When I had my twins 16 years ago I had a bit of a problem producing enough milk. My Obgyn encouraged me to drink a beer late afternoon to relax. He also said the darker the beer the better. I usually drank about half a Guiness. This allowed me to continue to breastfeed until the boys were over 13 months old. I also began a workout program to help with my stress(I also had a 2 year old at the time). My boys are now 16 and are in Gate and Honors classes in High School.

Enjoy that one with no guilt.

E. M

2 moms found this helpful
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G.R.

answers from Sacramento on

If your breast milk will not freeze it contains too much alcohol. Just a fact.

Pumping after the morning feeding (when hormones are high) would help you feel more at peace with what your feeding him for that time of the evening. I wouldn't say give your baby formula, which has a shelf life of 3 years, just because you had a drink. Your a breastfeeding mom. 1 bottle of formula can really throw you and your milk supply off. Your breastmilk is on your body all the time. Pumping a couple more times in 24 hrs, Normally will, increase milk supply in about 3-5 days. Especially with how young your baby is. This time is important. You can store for use when you feel uncomfortable nursing.

When you have a drink. Remember to pump (you dont want to get engorged, a breast infection, or worse less milk production) and freeze. If your drunk, then so is your milk is a guideline I hear alot. But I agree with the post-partum depression and alcoholism. The "pump and dump" comes in if that milk wont freeze. Then, yes dump it. But your milk supply should always be protected.

Just my opinion

2 moms found this helpful
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W.W.

answers from Sacramento on

I am not a doctor or researcher, but according to Dr. Sears' book alcohol will stay in breast milk for about 2 hours (for a regular glass of wine/beer). So, as long as you are conscientious of when you are drinking and feeding you should be ok. I don't drink and breast feed my baby only because I have never been much of a drinker except on my birthday. You are right about pumping and dumping. You're better off just waiting the 2 hours, that way you can really feed your baby! I cannot tell you whether your guilt is unreasonable. As my childbirth education used to say, "Do what feels right to you and your baby."

1 mom found this helpful
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C.M.

answers from Salinas on

Hi it looks like you already made a practical decision on what to do but breastfeeding issues are near and dear to my heart so I wanted to let you know about a good resource to check out. look up "dr. jack newman articles" on google and when you find the articles, you'll find some files on this very topic. in a nutshell, he is a breastfeeding expert and says alcohol is OK. (of course you obviously know to not get drunk to the point where you can't care for yourself or your baby.) there are other breastfeeding myths in those articles if you or any other moms reading this want to check it out. it is very informative. i can't believe some of the rude comments you got on here and i hope they didn't get you down!! if you want, feel free to email me... [email protected]____.com

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A.F.

answers from San Francisco on

I drank a little too while I breastfed because my doctor told me it was fine to do so in small moderation. We never had any effects from it. My daughter is almost 2 and doing wonderful. I would feed her, then have a drink with food, wait 3 or more hours and then feed her again. She's healthy, normal and a joy to be around. So enjoy a little wine or beer!

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H.W.

answers from Sacramento on

I never breastfed my son (he is adopted) but I remember two friends of mine telling me that they had beer to actually help them produce more breastmilk...I think it is one of those "old wives tales" that might actually work, if you have trouble producing enough milk volume to feed your baby. I don't know how much beer, or how often...and I don't remember them saying anything about wine.

I wonder if the beer helps since it has a sort of diuretic effect? (helps you to release water)

How does your baby respond when you drink the alcohol? Do you notice a difference in his habits or sleeping or wakeful behavior? That is one thing I'd watch for. You might also ask your doctor, and ask a naturopathic doctor for a second opinion (different medical perspective).

Good luck!

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J.L.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi A.,
I just took a breastfeeding class, tought by a lactation nurse. She said its fine to have alcohol while breastfeeding. Just don't get to the point where you feel too buzzed and wabbly, but a little tipsy (1-2 drinks) is ok. If you drink too much, go ahead and dump it. But if after drinking too much you don't dump your baby most likely wont feed anyway because the breastmilk will be sour tasting to him. Beer expecially supports breast milk because of the hopps - So go ahead, enjoy!

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M.C.

answers from Honolulu on

If a glass of wine caused problems, I think the whole of Europe may be retarded!! My grandmother told me that a glass of beer helps milk production!! Just be sure that it is truly only one glass/day, esp in the evening (it may help him sleep better!!!) and use your best judgment. You want what is best for your baby, and you would not do anything that you really felt was wrong.

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M.W.

answers from Las Vegas on

Why not just pump right BEFORE you are going to drink, then have your glass of wine. That way if your baby is ready to eat after you've had a drink, then you can just feed him breast milk from the bottle. That's what I did. :)

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J.A.

answers from Los Angeles on

As long as it's only ONE glass of wine (I think 6oz, maybe 8oz), especially reds because of their known heart health benefits, OR ONE (12oz beer), then it’s fine. It actually helps you to produce MORE milk, and to let down easier.

The only reasons I'd give you to stop post-hast would be if you are feeling Postpartum Depression, or you or your family have a history of alcohol dependency. If these reign as a factor, DO NOT continue! This behavior could lead to alcoholism if you have a history that leaves predisposed to the condition, and can sink you further into a depression if you’re already suffering. A good measure to know whether you’re beginning to become dependent on it is this: Do you think about when your next opportunity to have a drink is? If you are timing your day EVER by “your next drink”, you ARE addicted and should IMMEDIATELY seek help.

So long as depression and addiction aren’t issues to be concerned with, then ONE drink a day is fine. Just be sure that you’re honest with yourself and listen to your friends and family if they’re concerned. Alcoholics never believe that THEY have a problem. It’s always “that other guy” that has the problem, they are JUST FINE!

Hope it helps~ J.

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P.K.

answers from Los Angeles on

A.,
My wife and I have been experiencing the same feelings on this issue.
We sought the advice of our peditrician and lactation consultant. It is my understanding a glass of wine or beer will pass through the system in 2 hours and can promote milk production. So we believe your are safe if you don't feed or pump if you wait 2 hours.
I think you should talk this over with your doctor and consultant too.
As far as guilt, well, remember there are many cultures in this world which don't have such puritan attitudes toward alcohol. I think in America we have this unobtainable goal of making the world absolutely safe. Ultimately, you have to find your own safety level and remember most things in moderation are not harmful.

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S.K.

answers from Las Vegas on

In my breastfeeding class, the lactation consultant said worse case scenario alcohol in breastmilk would do the same thing to your baby as it does to you - it acts as a depressant. Meaning it may make your little one tired. Who can be against that? :) But she said it was fine, not a problem to have one beer or glass of wine.

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M.G.

answers from Los Angeles on

I had a great doctor with my 3 kids and that was topic of conversation on more than one occasion. While pregnant or breast feeding (which I did with 2, the 3rd I couldn't) you are able to have a glass of wine/beer with dinner every night if you chose and things will be fine. So go ahead and have your wine or beer and your body knows what to do and filter it. I did and my kids are fine.

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C.S.

answers from Las Vegas on

Hi A.,
I wouldn't do it. I don't think anyone really knows for sure how it all works. I have heard and read so many things which all contridict eachoter. Why not feed the baby formula and have the glass of wine or beer at dinner.

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D.B.

answers from Los Angeles on

No! you are not a horrible mom! I say it is OK. When I was breastfeeding my second son, I was told to drink a beer a day for milk production, but that was 28 years ago. I do not think that it is recommended these days, but my advice to you would be to ask an expert.

There are experts on brestfeeding in the hospital. Call the hospital where you had your baby, and ask one of them.

D.

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V.W.

answers from San Francisco on

You should not be drinking at all while you are breastfeeding... Look at the research - talk to your OB and to your pediatrician - - -

If you cannot live without alcohol - you really need to just stop breastfeeding your milk is no good to your baby - - - you are fooling yourself like most alcoholics. It's the alcohol talking - - -

For your baby's sake - you need to wake up and switch to formula.

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K.D.

answers from Reno on

Ditch the guilt! One glass of wine or a beer isn't enough to worry about. The only thing I was told by my kids pediatrician is that the tanin in red wine can cause tummy aches for the baby. And don't worry about having to "pump & dump" it is true that the alchohol works through in about 1/2 an hour. Don't be afraid to ask your Dr. about this, chances are they've been asked it before, they won't think you're horrible!

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