What You Need to Know About Breastfeeding and Alcohol

Breast Feeding and Alcohol

Is it safe to mix breast feeding and alcohol? It seems like many of us can't wait for our babies to be born so we can have the glass of wine we've been craving for nine months. But is it okay to drink if you're breast feeding?

Can I Breast Feed and Drink Alcohol?

There's actually a great deal of debate among the experts about breast feeding and alcohol. Some experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics feel that you should absolutely not drink any alcohol until your baby is weaned. Other experts say mixing breast feeding and alcohol is fine. However, they recommend that you drink in moderation and wait an appropriate amount of time between drinking alcohol and breast feeding.

How Long Should I Wait Between Consuming Alcohol and Breast Feeding?

Some medical professionals feel that you should wait three hours between consuming alcohol and breast feeding. Others say that you should wait about 6-8 hours for the alcohol to clear your bloodstream. Some experts say it's safe to breast feed as long as you don't feel tipsy or drunk.

There are also experts who say that you need to 'pump and dump' for 24 hours after consuming alcohol. Pumping and dumping is when you pump breast milk that might be affected by the alcohol and throw it away. You will want to pump your milk at the times you would normally feed your baby or when your breasts feel full.

Does Alcohol Affect My Baby?

Mixing breast feeding and heavy alcohol consumption has been linked with inhibition of the let-down reflex, the hormone production that tells your body to release milk. It can also deplete your milk supply.

Additionally, the alcohol in breast milk goes straight to your baby. Heavy drinking has been linked with slow weight gain and can affect your baby's motor reflexes. Alcohol also interferes with your baby's sleep and nursing cycles.

Babies born to women who drink heavily often fail to thrive. This means that your baby does not take in the calories he/she needs to gain weight and grow on target with other babies in his/her age group. If your drinking continues, your baby's brain and nervous system development will be affected.

If you are drinking heavily, you are affecting your ability to care for your baby. Not only are you sedating your baby, you are sedating yourself. A dirty diaper may not get changed as quickly as it should or you may not respond to your baby's cries for food as soon as you should. In addition, you may miss the signs that your baby is getting sick.

When I Should Avoid Mixing Breast Feeding and Alcohol?

If you have had a cesarean, you should wait until you've recovered before drinking any alcohol. Additionally, you should never mix alcohol with pain killers such as Vicodin.

If you have been diagnosed with postpartum depression, you should not be breast feeding and consuming alcohol. Alcohol is actually a depressant and can make your symptoms worse. If you are on an anti-depressant, you should not be mixing your medication with alcohol.

If you find you are drinking heavily to cope with motherhood, contact your care provider immediately. He/she will be able to offer recommendations for help.

If you decide to mix breast feeding and alcohol, most experts agree that moderation is the key.

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What You Need to Know About Breastfeeding and Alcohol