Cheers to Parenthood! Guidelines for Breastfeeding & Drinking Alcohol

Breastfeeding and Drinking Alcohol

If you have a nursling at home, this time of year especially may have you wondering: is it ok to drink alcohol? What is the latest information and guidelines on safely having a glass of wine or two over the holidays, and will it affect my baby? We encourage you to bring questions like these to your pediatrician and a trusted IBCLC.

Here we share the basic guidelines and information available from the American Academy of Pediatrics for mothers who do choose to enjoy an occasional drink, especially for the holidays!

Pumping & Dumping

Pumping and dumping is not necessary to remove alcohol from your breastmilk. Generally, it takes 2-4 hours for alcohol to clear your milk, as it clears the rest of your system. Pumping will not make this occur faster. A good rule of thumb is that if you are safe to drive, you are probably safe to resume nursing your baby. The only reason you might consider pumping and dumping would be if you will be away from your baby for an extended period of time, and need to continue pumping at regular intervals to keep your milk supply regulated.

Create a Plan

Infants, especially in the first few months of life, are not as effective at clearing alcohol from their systems. To minimize exposure, plan to have your drink right after breastfeeding, and space your next feeding at least 2 hours or more after you finish your last drink.

Moderation is Key

According to the AAP, an occasional glass of wine or bottle of beer should be ok, when the above precautions are taken. The general amount stated by the AAP is: 8oz of wine or two bottles of beer for women weighing approximately 132lbs, when at least 2 hours is allowed to pass before feeding the baby again. MommyMeds has created a helpful calculator to let you know, based on your weight and alcohol intake, approximately how long it will be before it is safe to breastfeed again.

Know the Risks

If you follow these policies outlined above, you should be fine to enjoy an occasional alcoholic beverage while breastfeeding. There are no known major, long-term risks for the infant when these precautions are taken, however, it is important to know some of the potential risks, so that you can minimize them:

  • Regular alcohol intake decreases milk supply over the long term.
  • Motor development has been shown to be affected in babies whose mothers regularly have one drink daily.
  • Do not sleep with your baby if you have any amount of alcohol in your system, as it does increase the risk of SIDS. If you are worried that you may fall asleep while caring for your baby, ask someone else to help you in the meantime. 

Ask a Postpartum Doula

Your postpartum doula can help you create a safe plan if you want to enjoy a drink or two this holiday season, or any time. We can do overnight care if you want the peace of mind of knowing they are well-cared for while you take a break, unwind, and enjoy a Christmas Ale or New Year's champagne toast. You deserve it!