Can you drink alcohol when breast feeding?

With the holidays around the corner, you might be wondering if it’s okay to indulge in a little holiday cheer. Here’s the scoop on how alcohol affects breastfeeding and pumping:

✔️ Moderation is Key: According to the CDC, one standard drink per day is not known to be harmful to the breastfed baby, though not drinking at all is considered the safest option.

🍷 How Alcohol Affects Breast Milk: Alcohol passes readily into breast milk, peaking around 30-60 minutes after consumption or 60-90 minutes if accompanied by food.  Factors such as weight, how fast you drink and your metabolism will also impact how long it in stays in your system

🥛 Alcohol does not accumulate in your milk: Instead, your breast milk will have the same percentage of alcohol as your blood does. For example, if your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is 0.10%, your breast milk would also have 0.10% alcohol.

🙅‍♀️ There’s no need to pump and dump: Alcohol leaves your body as it exits your bloodstream, removing milk via pumping will not expedite this process, because as long as the alcohol is present in your blood, it is also present in your milk. That said, if you opt to skip a feed and offer babe frozen or freeze-dried milk instead of serving it straight from the tap, be sure to also pump or hand express to replace that feed to help maintain your supply. If you are not comfortable feeding your baby the milk you expressed while drinking, you can still use it topically or in the bath.

Timing Your Feeds: If you’re nursing while having your first drink, chances are the alcohol won't even hit your system before your baby finishes feeding. For newborns, premature, or medically compromised infants, their ability to process alcohol is slower, so it's wise to wait a bit longer before breastfeeding after a drink.

🥂 Older Babies and Alcohol: If you have an older baby and have had just one drink, there's usually no need to delay breastfeeding, as their bodies are better equipped to handle small amounts of alcohol in breast milk.

🤰Your tolerance might have changed: after 9 months without alcohol, you might notice that that glass of Chardonnay hits a little different (and a lot harder!). Keep this in mind, as even a small amount of alcohol might affect your ability to care for your infant, so it’s best to go slow if it’s been awhile.

⚠️ Exercise caution: Excessive and acute alcohol consumption can inhibit the milk ejection reflex (aka the letdown). Excessive prolonged alcohol use may shorten breastfeeding duration by decreasing supply and could impact the infant’s sleep patterns and early development.

May this information empower you to make an informed decision about what feels right for you! 

And, as always, we’re here to make sure you’ve got easy access to your magical milk when it’s not available straight from the source for *whatever* the reason.

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