How to Enjoy a Glass of Wine While Breastfeeding

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 limited amount of alcohol will not harm your baby in any way. That being said, there are some things to remember to drink alcohol in a safe way while you are breastfeeding.

Alcohol and Breastfeeding

Because alcohol does pass through breast milk to a baby, The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests avoiding habitual use of alcohol. 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.

Stick to One or Two Alcoholic Drinks

It is recommended to stick to one to two alcoholic drinks per week when you are a breastfeeding mom. This amount should not harm your baby, and might give you a chance to relax!

What is one drink?

  • 12 fluid ounces of beer
  • 5 fluid ounces of wine
  • 1.5 fluid ounces of distilled spirits

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.

Does drinking alcohol help increase milk production?

Despite what you might have heard, alcohol has actually been proven to inhibit let-down and decrease milk production. While babies 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 will change the taste of your breast milk and some babies might drink less milk as a result of this.

Pumping and Dumping

Pumping and dumping does not speed up the process to metabolize alcohol.

Alcohol leaves your milk the same way it leaves your bloodstream. That same milk you considered pumping and dumping would be safe to feed your baby once your body has metabolized the alcohol. The alcohol concentrations in breast milk closely resemble those in maternal blood. As long as there's alcohol in your blood, there's alcohol in your 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 of 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 do choose to have an occasional glass of wine, you're not alone. Many moms enjoy a beer or a glass of wine postpartum. If you have concerns, speak with your doctor and follow their recommendations. Based on research and the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, though, you should be safe to enjoy a glass of wine responsibly while breastfeeding!

About the Author

Jessica Madden, MD, is the Medical Director at Aeroflow BreastpumpsDr. Madden has been a board-certified pediatrician and neonatologist for over 15 years. She's currently on staff in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, OH. She previously worked in the Boston and Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospitals. In 2018 she started Primrose Newborn Care to provide in-home newborn medicine and lactation support. She also enjoys traveling, yoga, reading, and spending time with her children.

Information provided in blogs should not be used as a substitute for medical care or consultation.