When you are breastfeeding, all of your baby’s nutrients comes from you. This means whatever you eat, your baby will eat as well. For this reason, breastfeeding and alcohol do not mix well.
Can I have alcohol while breastfeeding?
There is no level of alcohol in breastmilk that is considered safe for a baby to drink. When you drink alcohol, it gets into the breastmilk at the same concentration found in your bloodstream. Even though your baby is only exposed to a fraction of the alcohol you drink, your baby eliminates alcohol in their body at only half the rate of an adult.
Research also shows that babies exposed to one drink a day can have impaired motor development, and alcohol can also change sleep patterns. Old wives’ tales tell us that drinking alcohol can improve milk production, but studies have found the opposite true. The presence of alcohol decreases milk production and causes babies to drink 20% less breastmilk.
However, breastfeeding doesn’t mean you have to avoid alcohol altogether. If you spend the night on the town and you do choose to drink, it’s best to avoid breastfeeding until all the alcohol has completely left your system. Depending on your body weight and how much you drink, it can take anywhere from a couple hours to overnight for you to become fully sober. The best time to drink would be during the natural intervals between your breastfeeding sessions or consider pumping beforehand, so your baby has something to drink just in case.
Breastfeeding is the optimal way to feed your newborn, and it is recommended until the baby is a year old. This doesn’t mean you have to avoid alcohol for the entire year. Instead, with the right precaution and understanding of what alcohol does to your body, you can have an occasional drink as long as you avoid exposing your baby to it.