In this instance, hours of research have proven that moderation while drinking and breastfeeding is the key factor.

What is "pumping and dumping?"

Pumping and dumping is the process of pumping breast milk and throwing it away because it's deemed unsafe. Milk is usually discarded when mom has consumed a few alcoholic beverages and believes her milk unsafe for her baby. Some women mistakenly believe that they need to dump their milk when they actually don’t need to, so it’s important to know exactly when pumping and dumping is necessary. Organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics generally see a mother having one alcoholic drink during the period that she is breastfeeding as a nonissue. Though it’s been proven that alcohol does “contaminate” breast milk in small amounts, the amount of alcohol in the milk will not affect baby if mom drinks responsibly.

How long does alcohol stay in the bloodstream?

Alcohol levels can spike 30-60 minutes after a drink with no food, and 60-90 minutes with food. It should be noted that weight is another factor to consider when drinking alcohol while breastfeeding. The exact amount of time it takes a woman to clear alcohol from the bloodstream depends on her body weight, how much she has eaten that day and how her body reacts to alcohol.

Dangers of alcohol in breast milk

Babies who are exposed to large amounts of alcohol in breast milk will appear to be drowsy or lethargic and will suffer from issues with growth and weight gain. Even though babies will show signs of lethargy, in actuality, they end up sleeping less. This is due to alcohol affecting sleep patterns, which makes the sleep cycle irregular.

When to pump and dump

There are few instances when pumping and dumping is necessary. The only circumstance in which a mom would absolutely need to pump and dump is when she has consumed a large amount of alcohol. A high concentration of alcohol will contaminate the breast milk, making it unsafe for baby. Other than this, most moms will find that their breast milk will generally be safe for baby 2-3 hours after consuming alcohol.

How can I know for sure that my milk is safe?

Some moms prefer to gauge their alcohol consumption to ensure their breast milk is safe for baby. Breast milk test strips are a great way to measure the quality of your breast milk. The test strip only needs a couple drops of breast milk and will read a positive or negative result in just a few minutes. This is a great way for moms to ensure they are offering their baby safe milk, even after having a glass of wine or beer. The bottom line? Excess alcohol isn’t safe for baby or for mom, so stick to a 1-2 drink maximum — it's beneficial for everyone involved!