Monday, March 17, 2014

You Can Drink That?!

March is the month of one of the "booziest" holidays of the year, St. Patrick's Day.  It also ushers in spring and summer, which are great months for sitting on the porch and having a glass of wine with a neighbor or your significant other.

But you're a breastfeeding mom so the only thing green you'll be drinking is your kid's Kool-Aid and you'll have to get your grapes from grape juice, and not the fun kind, right?!

Or, even worse, you'll have to hook yourself up to that torture contraption known as a breast pump and at the end of your 15 minutes of pumping dump all that liquid gold down the drain.


Now, we're not advocating on behalf of the alcohol companies and we're not saying you should go out and get extremely intoxicated and then go home and nurse your baby.  What we are saying, is that you don't have to give up that glass of wine and you can certainly enjoy a green beer without concern.  We are also saying that you absolutely do NOT need to dump your pumped breastmilk after a drink, or even two.

The rule of thumb is that if you are sober enough to drive a car, you are sober enough to feed a baby and the amount of alcohol in breastmilk peaks at 1/2 hour after drinking.  According to, less than 2% of the alcohol a mother consumes actually gets into her blood stream and milk supply. Alcohol leaves the milk as it leaves the blood - so when your blood alcohol levels are back down, so is the level of alcohol in your milk.

And who doesn't love the Jack Newman Facebook post that has gone all sorts of viral that talks about a study a mother did in a toxicology laboratory regarding alcohol levels in breastmilk.  You can find the whole post here, but the end conclusion is that percentage of alcohol she found in breast milk after consuming one mixed drink OR half a beer and two 6oz glasses of wine is so negligible that it is unlikely to have any adverse affects on a baby.

Now, you should keep in mind the age of the child when making the decision to drink or not.  An older infant or a toddler will be able to process any alcohol that does enter their system via breast milk much easier and faster than a baby that is only a few weeks old.  

Also, please remember that while the amount alcohol that may pass to your child is small and will most likely not hurt them, it could effect your judgement and ability to properly care for your baby.  Keep in mind that if you are co-sleeping and breastfeeding it is advised that you not drink before putting a child in bed with you.  And while I've never experienced this, I can't imagine a hangover and a baby go very well together!

So today I raise a glass to you, fellow breastfeeders. Now go and enjoy that green beer guilt free!

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