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January 14, 2015
Many new moms want to know if they can safely enjoy a glass of wine while still breastfeeding responsibly. The simple answer is yes; a moderate amount of alcohol will not harm your baby in any way. That being said, there are some tricks to drinking alcohol in a safe way while you are breastfeeding.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has approved the use of alcohol for breastfeeding mothers. Alcohol is metabolized in about 1 to 3 hours, so to be safe, wait about 2 hours after one drink (or 2 hours for each drink consumed) before you nurse your baby. This time frame should safely allow the alcohol to be metabolized.
It is recommended to stick to one to two alcoholic drinks per week when you are a breastfeeding mom. This amount will not harm your baby, and will most likely benefit you by giving you a chance to relax!
It’s also important to consider your body shape and size when you are enjoying a glass of wine. A breastfeeding mom should limit alcohol intake based on her weight. For example, if a 175-pound woman consumes three drinks in an hour, her body will take about six hours to clear the alcohol. If she drinks four beverages in an hour, it will take around eight hours for her breast milk to be free of alcohol.
Despite what you might have heard, alcohol has actually been proven to inhibit let-down and decrease milk production. While baby might nurse more frequently in the hours after you have had a drink, their milk intake is usually lower than usual.
Additionally, alcohol dehydrates your body and makes you lose body fluid more quickly. There is no way that dehydration will help you produce milk!
Alcohol leaves your milk the same way it leaves your bloodstream (so pumping and dumping does not speed up the process). That same milk you considered pumping and dumping would be safe to feed your baby once your body has metabolized the alcohol. As long as there is alcohol in your blood, there could be trace amounts of alcohol in your breast milk.
Everyone metabolizes alcohol differently so if you want to take the guesswork out of trying to figure out when you can safely nurse again you should invest in Milkscreen tester strips. 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 results appear in about 2 minutes. If you receive a positive result, wait and test again in an hour or two to see if the alcohol has passed through your system.
There is no evidence that drinking in moderation harms your baby in any way. If you have concerns, speak with your doctor and follow their recommendations. Based on research and the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics, though, you should be safe to enjoy a glass of wine responsibly while breastfeeding!
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