I just had a glass of wine. Can I nurse my baby? – Holiday Breastfeeding Question #3

To celebrate the holidays, we’re posting the top holiday breastfeeding questions from the Breastfeed Chicago Facebook group and answers from our experts. Here is question number three!

Alcohol Breastfeeding Safety

There isn’t one single source of information that can provide a final answer. Research is emerging and each person has a different comfort level with alcohol use during breastfeeding.

Here is what we do know about alcohol use by breastfeeding parents:

  • A person’s breastmilk will contain alcohol in the same concentration as their blood alcohol content, commonly known as a person’s BAC.
  • Time, not pumping, removes alcohol from a person’s body and their breastmilk. Pumping milk out of your breasts does NOT speed up how quickly your breastmilk is clear of alcohol. Your breastmilk will always contain alcohol at the same level as your blood, so your milk will be free of alcohol when your body is.
  • If you need to pump because your breasts feel full, do it! Avoid clogs and possible mastitis. But it will not make the milk you produce after pumping any less alcoholic if your body is still intoxicated.
  • No one should bedshare with a baby after drinking alcohol. It can impair your ability to sense baby next to you and respond safely. You can read more about safe bedsharing guidelines here.
  • Alcohol use, especially in large amounts, inhibits a person’s milk ejection reflex (commonly called “letdown”) and overall milk production.

The American Academy of Pediatrics states that “ingestion of alcoholic beverages [by breastfeeding parents] should be minimized and limited to an occasional intake but no more than 0.5 g alcohol per kg body weight, which for a 60 kg mother is approximately 2 oz liquor, 8 oz wine, or 2 beers. Nursing should take place 2 hours or longer after the alcohol intake to minimize its concentration in the ingested milk.”

Dr. Thomas Hale, the director of the Infant Risk Center at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, said that “mothers who ingest alcohol in moderate amounts can generally return to breastfeeding as soon as they feel neurologically normal” (2017).

Here are some links for further reading on the topic. We encourage breastfeeding parents to make an informed decision for themselves.

Kelly Mom entry on Breastfeeding and Alcohol

La Leche League International FAQ on alcohol use by breastfeeding parents

A fairly comprehensive article from Slate about the practice of pumping and dumping


Next Question: Is it safe for me to have peppermint-flavored snacks? What about stuffing with sage in it? I have read both of those can negatively affect my milk supply.

All Holiday Breastfeeding Questions

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