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12th Sep 2021

Expert view: There’s no reason to ‘pump and dump’ because you’ve had a drink

Trine Jensen-Burke

no reason to pump and dump

No crying over spilt milk, please.

Ever had a glass of wine with your hubby – or a G&T with the girls – and then remembered that yikes – the baby will wake up for a feed soon? And then worried your drink will end up making your baby sick, you pump out the “bad” milk and pour it out – hard as it is not to cry over all that liquid gold going down the drain.

Well, moms – guess what? You could have just fed the baby as per normal – and no harm would have been done.

Because as it turns out, contrary to popular belief, the amount of alcohol that passes through your milk and into your baby is so minuscule, that if you have just had a drink or two, it really does not impact him or her at all.

Here is an extract from a helpful piece on Slate  where someone has done the math on how much alcohol would be in a baby’s milk if mum has had a drink or two or three:

“But even if you’ve refilled your glass a few times, there is very, very little alcohol in your milk—and very little ingested by your baby. If a 150-pound nursing mom downs four alcoholic drinks—say, four 5-ounce glasses of table wine—and then breast-feeds her 13-pound baby 4 ounces of milk when she’s at her tipsiest, her baby will end up with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.0038 percent — the same blood alcohol concentration her mom would have after consuming a mere 1.5 ounces of Bud Light (one-eighth of a 12-ounce bottle).”

Feed your baby before having a drink

According to the HSE, it’s best to avoid drinking alcohol until your baby is more than 1 month old. In the first few weeks, you and your baby are getting used to breastfeeding.

However, should you fancy enjoying a drink once you have established breastfeeding your baby, the HSE recommend the following steps to take:

  • Feed your baby before drinking alcohol.
  • Express your breast milk beforehand if you plan to drink more than 2 standard drinks – 1 standard drink is a half a pint of beer, a single measure of spirits or a small glass of wine.
  • Wait 2 hours after each standard drink before breastfeeding your baby

Avoid breastfeeding if feeling drunk

However, it is important to point out that while it is absolutely fine to breastfeed after a drink or two, you should avoid doing so if you are after having enough alcohol to feel the impact of it.

For starters, you might not be able to hold your baby safely and chances are also higher you might nod off while holding your baby, increasing the risk of both falls and suffocation.

As well as this, experts agree that we simply do not know enough about the impact on baby if the mother has consumed enough alcohol to feel drunk – so we can’t say with certainty that it’s fine.

For reference, Diana Spalding, Motherly’s Digital Education Editor and a midwife explains to that, “The American Academy of Pediatrics states that the “ingestion of alcoholic beverages should be minimized and limited to an occasional intake [which is approximate]… 2 oz liquor, 8 oz wine, or 2 beers.”