Alcohol and breastfeeding... why you DON'T need to pump and dump 4 years ago

Alcohol and breastfeeding... why you DON'T need to pump and dump

As every BF'ing mama will attest, breastmilk is worth its weight in gold.

Indeed, while there's no use crying over spilled milk - spilled breastmilk is a WHOLE other matter.

So we want to savour. Every. Last. Drop. Still, most nursing mothers will get to time and place when they want to enjoy a few glasses of wine at a wedding, a G&T at a celebration, or a cool beer just because.

Alcohol + pregnancy = a no-no. Alcohol + breastfeeding = a slightly grey area.

Plenty of mums say it's better to be safe than sorry - pumping and dumping after you've been drinking. But is it really necessary to chuck away your precious milk?

Firstly, it should be said that it's just not a good idea to be breastfeeding and drunk – simply because it's not a good idea to be drunk and caring for a small baby (it's generally frowned upon too!).

But it terms of how much alcohol actually makes it into your milk? Well, it's pretty minute; about 1 to 2 percent, in fact. And alcohol doesn't get 'trapped' either – as you sober up, your milk naturally returns to its normal state.


"Ultimately, there is a higher concentration of alcohol in some fruit juices – which can contain up to 0.1 percent alcohol due to fermentation of the sugars – than there is in the breast milk of a tipsy nursing mom," reported Slate recently.

La Leche League International acknowledges: "Breastfeeding mothers receive conflicting advice about whether alcohol consumption can have an effect on their baby, which often leaves mothers feeling like they have more questions than answers."

However, it adds: "When the breastfeeding mother drinks occasionally or limits her consumption to one drink or less per day, the amount of alcohol her baby receives has not been proven to be harmful."

The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee On Drugs furthermore considers alcohol compatible with breastfeeding. It lists possible side effects as drowsiness, deep sleep, weakness, and abnormal weight gain in the infant - but only if alcohol is consumed in large amounts.

Dr Jack Newman, member of the LLLI Health Advisory Council, has also stated: "Reasonable alcohol intake should not be discouraged at all.

"As is the case with most drugs, very little alcohol comes out in the milk. The mother can take some alcohol and continue breastfeeding as she normally does.

"Prohibiting alcohol is another way we make life unnecessarily restrictive for nursing mothers."

So take a common sense approach: time your glass (or two!) of wine in between feeds and be stricter the younger your baby is (less than three months). You can find out more from the HSE's dedicated breastfeeding website here.