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08th Dec 2023

Things to know about alcohol and breastfeeding this party season

alcohol and breastfeeding

We all know you shouldn’t consume alcohol while pregnant

It’s common knowledge and often stressed how dangerous it can be for the development of unborn babies, but less is said about drinking while breastfeeding.

It is recommended that you don’t drink until your baby is one month old as you establish a breastfeeding routine – but there are other reasons why you shouldn’t.

According to the HSE, you should avoid breastfeeding while there is alcohol in your system as the breast milk can affect your baby’s sleep and development.

alcohol and breastfeeding
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Young babies have an immature liver and take longer to clear alcohol from their bodies compared to an older baby or adult.

If you choose to have a drink while still establishing breastfeeding, there are steps you can take to avoid passing alcohol to your baby when it comes time for feeding.

The HSE recommends:

  • Feeding your baby before drinking any alcohol
  • Expressing your breast milk beforehand if you plan to drink more than 2 standard drinks
  • Waiting two hours after each standard drink before breastfeeding your baby
  • Drinking no more than 11 standard drinks in a week
  • Spreading your drinks over the week
  • Have at least two alcohol-free days per week.

They also point out that any milk expressed soon after having a drink contains alcohol.

It takes your body an average of 1 to 2 hours to get rid of 1 standard drink.

alcohol and breastfeeding
Credit: Getty

The alcohol level in your breast milk will peak at about 1 hour after consuming one standard drink so it is recommended that if you’re breastfeeding, wait two hours per standard drink before you feed your baby.

If you have more than one standard drink, you will need to wait longer. Expressing your milk and throwing it away, commonly called, ‘pump and dump,’ will not make the alcohol leave your body any faster.