Start your breastfeeding off right with helpful information from non-profit Best for Babes.

Can I Drink Alcohol While Breastfeeding?

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iStockphoto/Yula Zubritsky

We know. You’d like a glass of wine with dinner. You’d like to go to a party and have a cocktail. You’ve been changing diapers and providing entertainment all day, and you’d just like to kick back before the screaming starts again. It’s not asking too much, right?

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But can you have that drink if you’re breastfeeding?  Guess what… it’s okay! Within moderation. (see American Academy of Pediatrics).

Anything you ingest will go to your baby, so you do need to drink responsibly.  Of course, there are different takes on how much is ok, but generally, the occasional one to two drinks is considered fine.

Just wait a couple of hours after drinking before breastfeeding again. Despite popular belief, there’s no need to “pump and dump” your milk. This won’t get the alcohol out of the breast milk any faster.  The alcohol level in your milk drops over time, the same way it drops in your blood. In fact, here’s an easy way to think about it. If you are sober enough to drive, then it is probably fine to breastfeed.

Be aware, however, that excessive alcohol can have an impact on a baby’s sleepiness, motor skills and weight gain.  It can also decrease the mother’s milk-ejection reflex – also know as your letdown.

But what about that old wive’s tale that a beer will actually help you make more milk? It seems that the polysaccharide from barley that’s in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beer can stimulate prolactin secretion, which may help milk production.  (You can also get that benefit from drinking non-alcoholic beer.) But too much alcohol, and babies seem to take in less milk.

So yes, have a glass. But call it quits while you’re ahead.  You’re going to have to get up shortly to change another diaper anyway.

About Andi

Andi Silverman is the author of "Mama Knows Breast: A Beginner's Guide to Breastfeeding." She is also a digital marketing consultant for Nosy Crow, a children's book and app publisher. Andi blogs at mamaknowsbreast.com and can be found on Twitter @AndiSilverman.

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