Breastfeeding and alcohol, it’s a topic that has been debated for years. Some say it’s safe, while others argue that it can be harmful to the baby. But what is the truth? In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about breastfeeding and alcohol.
Can you drink alcohol while breastfeeding?
Yes, you can drink alcohol while breastfeeding, but it’s important to do so in moderation. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “ingestion of alcoholic beverages 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.”
So, if you’re going to drink alcohol while breastfeeding, limit your intake to one or two drinks, and wait at least two hours before nursing your baby. This allows enough time for the alcohol to leave your bloodstream, reducing the risk of your baby being exposed to alcohol.
How does alcohol affect breast milk?
When you drink alcohol, a small amount of it enters your breast milk. The amount of alcohol in your breast milk depends on several factors, including how much you drink, how quickly you drink, and your body weight. However, the amount of alcohol in your breast milk peaks about 30-60 minutes after you start drinking, and then starts to decrease as your body metabolizes the alcohol.
Drinking alcohol can also affect the taste and smell of your breast milk, which may cause your baby to refuse to breastfeed. It can also reduce your milk supply, making it harder for your baby to get the nutrients they need.
What are the risks of drinking alcohol while breastfeeding?
The risks of drinking alcohol while breastfeeding depend on how much you drink and how often. Drinking large amounts of alcohol or drinking alcohol frequently can have harmful effects on your baby, including:
- Poor feeding habits
- Slow weight gain
- Developmental delays
- Reduced milk intake
In extreme cases, drinking heavily while breastfeeding can cause your baby to become unconscious, which is a medical emergency.
How long does alcohol stay in breast milk?
The amount of time alcohol stays in your breast milk depends on how much you drink and your body weight. On average, it takes about two hours for one drink to leave your system. If you’re going to drink alcohol while breastfeeding, it’s important to plan ahead and time your drinking so that your baby isn’t exposed to alcohol.
How to minimize the risks of drinking alcohol while breastfeeding?
If you’re going to drink alcohol while breastfeeding, there are several things you can do to minimize the risks to your baby:
- Limit your intake to one or two drinks.
- Wait at least two hours after drinking before nursing your baby.
- Consider pumping milk before you drink so that you have a supply of alcohol-free breast milk for your baby.
- Have someone else watch your baby while you drink, so that you don’t have to worry about nursing while under the influence of alcohol.
The bottom line
Breastfeeding and alcohol can coexist, but it’s important to be responsible and mindful of your baby’s safety. Drinking alcohol in moderation, waiting before nursing your baby, and taking other precautions can help minimize the risks to your baby. However, if you’re concerned about the impact of alcohol on your baby, talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant for advice.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers who choose to drink alcohol while breastfeeding do so in moderation, limiting their intake to one or two drinks at most. This means drinking no more than 2 oz liquor, 8 oz wine, or 2 beers if you weigh around 60 kg.
It’s important to remember that alcohol affects everyone differently, and factors such as your weight, how quickly you drink, and whether you’ve eaten can impact how your body metabolizes alcohol. So, it’s crucial to be aware of your body’s response to alcohol and adjust your intake accordingly.
Another way to minimize the risks of drinking alcohol while breastfeeding is to pump milk before you drink. This will give you a supply of alcohol-free breast milk to feed your baby, so you don’t have to worry about exposing them to alcohol. You can also consider having someone else watch your baby while you drink, so that you can enjoy a drink without having to nurse under the influence.