Yes, You Can Drink Wine While Breastfeeding – Tips to Enjoy Alcohol Safely After You Have a Baby!
If you follow me on Instagram and here on the blog, you know that I am pretty much an open book. Throughout all of the big changes in my life, I have brought you all on the journey with me! I told you all about my decision to quit my corporate job and pursue Jetset Christina full-time, what my dream wedding in Maui was like, and most recently, I have shared my experience as a new mom. Motherhood so far has been in a word, incredible. Challenging at times, of course, sleepless and an absolute whirlwind, duh, but truly been one beautiful day after another. But, man, are there a lot of things you have to think about and research as a new mom. It’s exhausting – mainly because it’s all things we’ve never known anything about before!
Recently, Kenny and I went to Napa with the Kenny Flowers team to shoot the new Napa collection. And, on the trip, I posted a few photos and videos of myself enjoying some wine with the team and some wine tastings while on my trip to Napa with a baby. This led to a ton of DM’s asking me about drinking while breastfeeding, and how to enjoy wine while breastfeeding! And I understand the curiosity (Let’s be honest, this was one of the first things I asked my doctor after giving birth – LOL)
I chatted with lots of new and expecting mamas out there were curious to know if you can drink while you are breastfeeding, and, if so, how to do so in a safe way for your babe! While I think everyone should talk to their own doctor and decide what’s best for them, I have good news, mamas, because my doctor assured me it’s safe to drink some wine while breastfeeding. And, not only that, while I’m not a doctor, I decided to do a ton of my own research (which I get into below) and it’s just all about being smart about it!
Talk to your own doctor but definitely don’t stress too much! I get into details below on exactly how alcohol is metabolized with a breastfeeding mom, how much wine is safe to drink while breastfeeding, and when it is safe to drink it! Y’all know I am always here to help in any way that I can, so I decided to put together all of my research below!
Can You Drink Alcohol While Breastfeeding?
The first question that needs to be answered: can you drink while breastfeeding your baby? At the end of the day, this (as with most decisions you make for your new family) is a very personal choice. If you are not comfortable with the idea of drinking while breastfeeding or if you have a hard time limiting your consumption of alcohol, then having a drink while breastfeeding your baby may not be the right decision for you! However, if you are comfortable with having a glass of wine or your favorite cocktail while breastfeeding, great! Chat with your doctor and do your research so that you can learn how to do so in a safe way.
Very, very important note: Occasional drinking while breastfeeding has not been shown to adversely affect nursing infants. (Source: Schulte, P. (1995). Minimizing Alcohol Exposure of the Breastfeeding Infant. Journal of Human Lactation, 11(4), 317–319.)
Personally, for my own (extra-extra-cautious) peace of mind, I’ve been doing small pours of wine at a time, and timing my drinking well with his feeding schedule so that it’s completely out of my system by the time the baby gets my milk! I definitely don’t stress too much about it, but if I’m planning on having more than a glass or so, I’ll have an extra bottle pumped ahead of time and will feed him a bottle instead (we did this for after a big day of wine tasting in Napa, and also during a wedding we recently went to).
How Does Alcohol Affect My Breast Milk and My Baby?
Before making your own decision of whether to have a drink while breastfeeding, it is important to understand how alcohol affects you and your breast milk. According to many studies, alcohol passes through your breast milk “at concentrations similar to those found in your bloodstream.” So, just like your blood alcohol content shows, the highest level of alcohol will be found in your breast milk within the first hour of consumption. Over time, the alcohol will be eliminated from your breast milk naturally. Alcohol is not stored in the breast, so, as your liver metabolizes the alcohol causing your blood alcohol level to drop, so does the alcohol level in your breastmilk.
As a general rule of thumb, your baby will be able to metabolize/eliminate alcohol at half the rate of an adult. When your baby drinks breast milk with alcohol in it, he or she will only be exposed to a tiny fraction of the alcohol that you actually drink, so as long as you only have one or two, rest assured your baby will be absolutely fine.
How Much Can I Drink While Breastfeeding?
If you are going to drink while breastfeeding, most doctors recommend you should limit yourself to one to two drinks. The actual amount of alcohol per drink differs depending on what you are consuming, so here is a little cheat sheet to help you:
One drink is equal to:
- 12 ounces of beer
- 5 ounces of wine
- 1.5 ounces of spirits such as gin, vodka, or whiskey
Since your breast milk will have the highest concentration of alcohol within the first hour of consumption, you should try to time your drink with your feeding schedule. In other words, try to have that glass of wine right after feeding so that you can allow as much time as possible between drinking alcohol and breastfeeding your baby again.
If I plan on drinking more than that, I just have an extra bottle on hand! (I loooove these bottles, btw). It’s as simple as that.
Will drinking alcohol affect my milk supply?
Short answer: It shouldn’t if you’re drinking in moderation. But it’s something to keep an eye on since everyone’s body is different! Also, while the immediate effects of alcohol on milk production last only as long as the alcohol is in your system, chronic alcohol use has the potential to lower your milk supply overall.
Caring for your baby if you’re drinking alcohol
It’s very important to note that another important thing to consider if you are planning on drinking is the care of your baby while you are drinking alcohol. If you are drinking more than a glass or so, you may make fewer safe decisions around the attention and care of your baby. Drinking alcohol reduces the ability of the mother to be aware of her baby’s needs, whether she is breastfeeding or not. So, let’s say you’re going to a wedding or a big event where you may be drinking heavily or more than the occasional light drinking – it is crucial to plan ahead and have someone (like your partner, a nanny or a relative) be ready to take care of the baby overnight if you are under the influence. Also it’s vital to never sleep with your baby if you have been consuming alcohol. Mothers who have been drinking alcohol should never let themselves be in a situation where they might fall asleep with the baby; on a bed, chair, etc. (this would also apply to other carers who have been drinking alcohol). Doing this has a strong association with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
In my personal experience, such as going to a wedding or to a bachelorette party in Palm Springs while I was breast-feeding, where I stayed nearby with Kenny and the baby – I would drink moderately and have fun with the girls (with a couple of bottles pumped ahead of time), but I never went overboard – I personally would never want to be out of my mind for needing to be up with or feeding the baby throughout the night, so I would be sober by the time I went to sleep.
Should I Pump and Dump if I’m Drinking Alcohol While Breastfeeding?
If your goal is to get rid of the alcohol in your breast milk as quickly as possible, then no, “pumping and dumping” won’t help. I feel like this is an old wive’s tale that many of us are taught to believe because I had definitely heard this before talking to my doctor! Studies show that pumping and dumping does not work to get rid of the alcohol in your breast milk. Alcohol is removed from your breast milk naturally over time, as it’s metabolized, in the same way it is removed from your bloodstream. Rather than pumping and dumping to clear your breast milk of alcohol, try drinking lots of water or eating food while you are drinking.
There is no benefit to “pumping and dumping” your breastmilk unless you are uncomfortable and need to express to relieve the discomfort. So, if your goal is to relieve yourself of engorged breasts because you haven’t been able to pump/breastfeed or if you will be away from your baby and won’t be able to save the milk for later, then, by all means, pump it and dump it! You can also pump and dump if you have consumed more than two drinks and it would not be safe for your baby to consume the milk that you have produced.
How Do I Know if My Breast Milk is Safe for My Baby After Drinking Alcohol?
The one-to-two drink rule is wonderful in theory, but the reality is that every person’s body is different, so it can be difficult to say that two drinks are safe for everyone. If you want extra reassurance, you can buy these alcohol-detection strips — if nothing else, these will give you peace of mind when breastfeeding your baby after drinking! They are super easy to use and give you results quickly, so you won’t have to wait to know whether or not the alcohol is completely out of your breastmilk.
The best thing to keep in mind is that “you should feel ‘neurologically normal,’ like you could safely drive a car before you nurse your baby” after drinking (according to Obstetrician Kathryn Newton, MD from Cleveland Clinic). This is a good thing to remember if you don’t have alcohol test strips on you and are nervous about breastfeeding after drinking.
- Anderson, P. O. (1995). Alcohol and Breastfeeding. Journal of Human Lactation, 11(4), 321–323.
- Mennella JA. Regulation of milk intake after exposure to alcohol in mothers’ milk. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2001;25(4):590-593
- Schulte, P. (1995). Minimising Alcohol Exposure of the Breastfeeding Infant. Journal of Human Lactation, 11(4), 317–319.
- May PA, et al. Breastfeeding and maternal alcohol use: Prevalence and effects on child outcomes and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Reproductive Toxicology. 2016;63:13.
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