consuming alcohol while breastfeeding
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Popping Bottles: Consuming Alcohol While Breastfeeding

There’s nothing like being at a summer barbecue, enjoying good food, hanging with friends, and laughing all while feeling left out because everyone around you is indulging in their favorite adult beverage and you’re left with a red cup of ice water because you’re nursing. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing to be ashamed of if you’ve chosen to abstain from consuming alcohol until you’re ready to wean your baby from the boob, but I, for one, was ready for my first sip of Prosecco as soon as I gave birth!   

The first chance I had, I hopped on Google to see what the “internet doctors” said about consuming alcohol while breastfeeding and tons of information popped up. Surprisingly, I found many posts in favor of mothers who choose to still consume alcohol while breastfeeding. Now, one thing to note for those who take things too literally, despite the wording, I’ve never done the two simultaneously. That’s just a personal choice. Moving along…

After doing a bit of research, I also asked my mommy friends and they all pretty much had the same advice: trust your judgment. So for that mom who’s debating about whether or not to pour that glass of wine, here’s some advice on consuming alcohol while breastfeeding. 

What the Internet Says About Consuming Alcohol While Breastfeeding

consuming alcohol while breastfeeding

According to the CDC, not drinking alcohol is the safest option for breastfeeding mothers. But moderate alcohol consumption by a breastfeeding mother (up to one standard drink per day) is not known to be harmful to the infant, especially if the mother waits at least two hours after a single drink before nursing. However—there’s always a “however”—exposure to alcohol above moderate levels through breast milk could be damaging to an infant’s development, growth, and sleep patterns. Alcohol consumption above moderate levels may also impair a mother’s judgment and ability to safely care for her child.

Now, I’ll admit, after reading that, ya girl was shooketh! You mean to tell me that a glass of wine might affect my child’s development? I decided to do more research to see what other reliable sources had to say. One piece of advice that I found to be common was that many advised nursing moms to wait between two and four hours after alcohol consumption to feed their baby, depending on how much was consumed, of course.   

Searching the web wasn’t enough for me, I needed the advice of actual moms.   

What Real Moms Say About Consuming Alcohol While Breastfeeding

After asking some of my friends about the topic, they all agreed that it’s safe to consume alcohol in moderation, even if you are breastfeeding. I mean, duh! Of course they did if they’re my friends. They all agreed that along with drinking in moderation, I should also trust my judgment. For example, if I wasn’t ok to drive or make rational decisions, then I would definitely not be in a position to feed my baby.

I trust that my friends wouldn’t steer me in the wrong direction so I decided to test out the idea, with a little assistance. I pumped a few bottles in advance for my son and I poured my first glass of Prosecco. Man, was it delicious! I immediately realized that my tolerance for alcohol was significantly lower than the last time I’d drank, so one glass was enough. I waited two hours and I expressed a small amount of breastmilk into a glass. I tested my milk with UpSpring Milkscreen test strips and it tested negative for traces of alcohol.

Once I was comfortable consuming a little more, I did have times when the test strips detected alcohol in my milk and I didn’t breastfeed my son. I came to the conclusion that, for me, I needed to wait four hours to feed my son after drinking two glasses of wine. Everyone is different.

Now that my son sleeps through the night, I’m able to plan my glass of wine (or three) at night so that I don’t have to worry about him needing to eat until the next morning. But one thing that I realized is that I enjoy myself more when I plan to drink (as silly as it sounds) instead of having a spontaneous sip.

I make sure I have a few extra bottles, just in case, and alcohol test strips. I try to avoid pumping and dumping if I’m not away from my baby. Contrary to popular belief, pumping and dumping your milk does not remove the alcohol any faster than waiting it out. Your body absorbs and distributes alcohol in your milk just as it does with your bloodstream. If you can bare a little engorgement, wait it out. 

The next time you get invited to a barbecue, plan your drinking around your baby’s feeding schedule or bring a few extra bottles so that you too can enjoy an adult beverage.      

Photo by Pexels user Burst

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