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July 29, 2014
You spent nine months of pregnancy abstaining from alcohol and now your little one is finally here! Many moms are excited to finally enjoy a glass of wine or a beer with their evening meal. However, if you plan on breastfeeding, you will probably need to be careful about when you enjoy an alcoholic drink.
The concentration of alcohol in your blood is the same as the concentration of alcohol in your milk. This is what you must keep in mind when you enjoy a beer or glass of wine: as long as you drink sparingly and know your limit before your milk becomes unsafe for baby, you will be fine.
Alcohol enters the breast milk around 30-60 minutes after you have a drink. Depending on the strength of the amount of alcohol in your drink and how much you have eaten that day, the time it takes to clear your system will vary.
Even trace amounts of alcohol in breast milk can have negative effects on a baby’s tiny body, which processes alcohol twice as slowly as ours. In some cases, alcohol in breast milk can cause baby to lose sleep and not gain weight normally. Most sources say that it is safe for moms to enjoy 1-2 alcoholic beverages per week while breastfeeding; any excessive amount of alcohol will inhibit the quality of breast milk.
You just have to be careful about when you drink. For a typical 12oz. serving of beer, 4oz. serving of wine or 1 mixed drink, it should take between 2-3 hours for the alcohol to clear your system completely. If you plan ahead and have ‘clean’ milk pumped and stored then this won’t be a problem. But if you plan to breastfeed later in the day you should give yourself 3 hours per drink before pumping just to be safe.
For example, if you have three drinks with dinner at 8pm and wrap up by 9pm, you should be fine to pump out some breast milk by 6am the next morning.
One awesome solution that many moms count on is the Milkscreen tester strip. The tester strips are easy to use — if there is alcohol in your breast milk you will get a positive result. The testing strip only requires a couple drops of breast milk and the results appear in about 2 minutes. Using a milk tester strip allows you to drink a few alcoholic beverages without the guesswork of calculating whether your milk is safe for baby.
The moral of the story is to drink responsibly and be aware that high levels of alcohol will affect your breast milk. All that you have to do is be careful and time your beverage correctly, and both you and your baby will be just fine!
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