How Long After Alcohol Breastfeeding?

How Long After Alcohol Breastfeeding
Moderate alcohol consumption by a breastfeeding mother (up to 1 standard drink per day) is not known to be harmful to the infant, especially if the mother waits at least 2 hours before nursing.

How much alcohol before it gets into breast milk?

Alcohol’ s Effect on Lactation Although pregnant women are discouraged from drinking alcohol because of alcohol’ s detrimental effect on fetal development, the lore of many cultures encourages lactating women to drink alcohol to optimize breast milk production and infant nutrition.

  • In contrast to this folklore, however, studies demonstrate that maternal alcohol consumption may slightly reduce milk production.
  • Furthermore, some of the alcohol consumed by a lactating woman is transferred to her milk and thus consumed by the infant.
  • This alcohol consumption may adversely affect the infant s sleep and gross motor development and influence early learning about alcohol.

Based on this science, it would seem that the recommendation for a nursing mother to drink a glass of beer or wine shortly before nursing may actually be counterproductive. KEY WORDS: lactation; physiological AODE alcohol or other drug effects) ; breast milk; pregnancy hormones; infant; sleep disorder; developmental delay; motor coordination; alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder; learning Throughout most of human evolution, infants for several years after birth received their nutrients primarily from their mothers in the form of breast milk.

  1. Breast milk is a complex fluid produced by the mother’s body that fulfills a similar nutritional function as does the placenta during pregnancy.
  2. That is, it protects the infant from disease and influences certain aspects of the infant’ s behavior and physiology.
  3. In essence, without successful breast-feeding, the human species would not have survived.

In many cultures a centuries-old belief persists that the process of breast-milk production and breastfeeding (i.e., lactation) can be optimized by having lactating women drink alcohol (Mennella 1999), For example, the consumption of small quantities of alcohol shortly before nursing is believed to increase milk yield, facilitate the release of the milk from the mammary glands where it is produced (i.e., the let-down), and relax both the mother and infant.

  • In fact, this folklore was so well ingrained in American tradition that, in 1895, a major U.S.
  • Brewery produced Malt Nutrine, a low-alcoholic beer composed of barley malt and hops.
  • This product was sold exclusively in drugstores and prescribed by physicians as a tonic for pregnant and lactating women and a nutritional beverage for children (Krebs 1953),

Its production was halted during Prohibition because it contained more than 0.5 percent alcohol. Even in modern times, alcohol continues to be hailed as an agent that promotes lactation (i.e., a galactagogue), For example, women in Mexico are encouraged to drink as much as two liters ( i.e.

One-half gallon) of pulque – a low-alcohol beverage made from the fermented juice of the plant Agave atrovirens – daily during both pregnancy and lactation. Similarly, Indochinese women in California drink wine steeped with herbs, and in Germany malt beer is considered a “magic elixir.” Alcohol consumption among lactating women also is common in the United States.

Epidemiological studies found that although lactating women were less likely to report occasional binges of heavy drinking, the regular drinking patterns at 1 and 3 months after giving birth ( i.e., postpartum) did not differ significantly between women who elected to breastfeed and women who never breastfed ( Little et al.1990),

  1. In contrast, breast-feeding women limited their use of other drugs ( e.g.
  2. Were less likely to smoke cigarettes or marijuana or to use cocaine),
  3. In the same survey approximately 10 percent of lactating women reported consuming at least one drink daily.
  4. Whether these women were drinking in response to the folklore mentioned above is not known.

A recent study has indicated, however, that lactating women who were either encouraged to drink or received no advice at all about alcohol reported drinking significantly more than did women who were advised not to drink (Mennella 1997). The claims that alcohol benefits lactation are not accompanied by any controlled scientific evidence, and little research has been conducted in this area.

This article reviews the existing scientific literature on alcohol s effects on lactation. After a brief overview of the initiation and maintenance of lactation, the article describes the transfer of alcohol to human milk and the effects that maternal alcohol consumption have on the interaction between mother and infant.

This discussion includes effects on milk production and milk properties ( e.g., flavor), the infant s milk intake, and the infant s motor development and early learning. Overview of Lactation Breast milk is produced by mammary glands located in the breast tissue.

  1. These glands are present from birth, but become fully functional for milk production only during pregnancy.
  2. Several hormones regulate the development of the mammary glands as well as the initiation and maintenance of lactation.
  3. The most important of these hormones are prolactin and oxytocin, both of which are produced in the pituitary gland in the brain.

Prolactin, together with other hormones ( e.g., estrogen and progesterone), regulates the final development of the mammary glands during pregnancy. After birth ( i.e., parturition), the woman s hormonal environment changes, and in this setting prolactin can initiate milk secretion from the mammary glands.

  1. In addition to its role in mammary gland development and initiation of lactation, prolactin also is essential for the maintenance of lactation.
  2. During each feeding session, the infant s suckling at the breast induces prolactin release from the pituitary gland.
  3. This prolactin release stimulates the mammary glands to produce new milk before the next feeding.

The extent of prolactin release (and, consequently, the amount of milk produced) is determined by the intensity of the suckling. Thus, if an infant is hungry and nurses strongly, the resulting high levels of prolactin released from the pituitary gland ensure sufficient milk production to meet the infant s needs.

Conversely, any conditions that interfere with effective suckling will result in lower levels of prolactin release, thereby compromising milk production. Oxytocin plays a key role in the milk let-down during nursing. Its release from the pituitary gland in response to suckling or other stimuli causes certain cells around the mammary glands to contract, thereby expelling the milk from the glands into small ducts leading to the nipple.

Without this let-down reflex, the infant cannot nurse and empty the breast effectively. Transfer of Alcohol Into the Milk When a lactating woman consumes alcohol, some of that alcohol is transferred into the milk. In general, less than 2 percent of the alcohol dose consumed by the mother reaches her milk and blood.

  • Alcohol is not stored in breast milk, however, but its level parallels that found in the maternal blood.
  • That means that as long as the mother has substantial blood alcohol levels, the milk also will contain alcohol.
  • Accordingly, the common practice of pumping the breasts and then discarding the milk immediately after drinking alcohol does not hasten the disappearance of alcohol from the milk as the newly produced milk still will contain alcohol as long as the mother has measurable blood alcohol levels.

Peak alcohol levels both in the mother’ s blood and in the milk occur approximately one-half hour to an hour after drinking and decrease thereafter, although there are considerable individual differences in the timing of peak levels and in alcohol elimination rates in both milk and blood (Lawton 1985; Mennella and Beauchamp 1991),

Therefore, lactating women should not nurse for several hours after drinking until their blood alcohol levels have declined again. The question of whether exposure to alcohol in the mother’s milk can affect an infant in the short or long term has generated much speculation in the medical community. Because alcohol is excreted only to a limited extent in breast milk, many clinicians consider occasional exposure insignificant except in rare cases of intoxication in which the mother of a breast-feeding infant drinks heavily or in which a child is inadvertently fed large amounts of alcohol in a bottle.

Contrary to this perception, however, the limited research that exists to date suggests that alcohol administration through the breast milk may affect the infant in several ways, such as altering milk intake and influencing infant behavior and early development and learning.

These effects are discussed in the following sections. Alcohol’ s Effect on the Breast-feeding Process and the Infant As mentioned earlier, folklore suggests that alcohol consumption by a lactating woman improves milk production and, in turn, the nutrition of her infant. Contrary to this assumption, however, studies have found that breast-fed infants consumed, on average, 20 percent less breast milk during the 3 to 4 hours following their mothers consumption of an alcoholic beverage (Mennella and Beauchamp 1991, 1993).

This finding is consistent with the results of similar studies conducted in rats (Subramanian and Abel 1988; Swiatek et al.1986; Vilaró et al.1987). The observed decrease in milk intake did not occur because the infants nursed for shorter periods of time (Mennella and Beauchamp 1991, 1993) or rejected the mother s milk because of an altered flavor following maternal alcohol consumption (Mennella 1997).

  • Rather, maternal alcohol consumption reduced the amount of milk produced (i.e.
  • Quantity) without altering its quality (e.g.
  • Caloric content) (Mennella 1999),
  • As described earlier, the production and ejection of milk from the mammary gland are the result of highly synchronized hormonal processes that are governed, at least in part, by the frequency and intensity of the infant’s suckling.

These hormonal processes may be influenced by alcohol consumption. For example, studies in lactating rats demonstrated that although acute alcohol administration did not affect base line prolactin levels, it significantly inhibited suckling-induced prolactin and oxytocin release as well as milk production and, consequently, the pups milk intake (Subramanian and Abel 1988; Subramanian 1999).

  • Whether acute alcohol consumption has similar effects on the hormonal milieu in lactating women is not known, however.
  • Nor do researchers know whether chronic drinking affects the quantity and quality of milk produced in humans (see Heil et al.1999).
  • Although infants consumed less milk when their mothers had consumed an alcoholic beverage compared with a nonalcoholic beverage, the mothers were apparently unaware of this difference (Mennella and Beauchamp 1993),

That is, mothers who had consumed an alcoholic beverage believed their infants had ingested enough milk, reported that they experienced the sensation of milk let-down, and felt they had milk remaining in their breasts at the end of the majority of feedings.

Because milk intake and the rate of milk production varies from feeding to feeding, a small difference in the infant s milk intake may be difficult for women to perceive. With breast-fed infants, the amount of milk ingested often varies, and milk usually can be expressed from the mother’ s breasts after a feeding.

Perhaps one reason why the folklore that alcohol is a galactagogue has persisted for centuries is that a lactating mother does not have an immediate means of assessing whether her infant consumes more or less milk in the short term. Effect on Infant Sleep Another presumed effect of maternal alcohol consumption is to relax the infant and thus promote the infant s sleep.

Studies found, however, that in the short term, acute exposure to alcohol in mothers milk altered the infants sleep-wake patterning in ways that are contrary to this medical lore (Mennella and Gerrish 1998). Infants whose mothers were light drinkers during both pregnancy and lactation slept for significantly shorter periods of time during the 3.5 hours after nursing when the mothers had consumed an alcoholic beverage than when they had consumed a nonalcoholic beverage.

This reduction was due in part to a decrease in the amount of time the infants spent in active sleep.1 (1 Active sleep, also called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, is the sleep stage during which dreaming occurs ).This finding is consistent with the results of studies assessing alcohol’s effect on sleep in the near-term fetus (Mulder et al.1998), normal adults (Williams et al.1983), and other animals (Mendelson and Hill 1978).

  • Effects on Infant Development Researchers examined the longer-term effects of alcohol consumption by lactating women in an epidemiological study of 400 breast-fed infants and their mothers.
  • The study assessed the relationship between the mothers’ alcohol use during lactation and their infants’ development at 1 year of age (Little et al.1989).
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The study found that gross motor development was slightly, but significantly, altered in infants who were exposed regularly (i.e., at least daily) to alcohol in their mothers milk. No significant correlation existed, however, between maternal drinking and the infants’ mental development.

Furthermore, the motor and mental development of infants whose mothers drank less than one drink per day did not differ significantly from the development of infants whose mothers did not drink at all or who were formula fed. The association between maternal drinking and delayed motor development persisted even after the investigators controlled for more than 100 potentially attributable to alcohol-related differences in maternal behavior, because infants of heavy drinkers who were weaned at an early age had significantly higher scores on motor development than did infants of heavy drinkers who were weaned at an older age and thus were exposed to alcohol longer (Little 1990).

To explain the effects of alcohol consumed through breast milk on infant development, researchers have formulated several hypotheses (see Little et al.1989), For example, some have suggested that the developing brain is highly sensitive even to small quantities of alcohol.

Others have posited that alcohol may accumulate in the infant following repeated exposure because infants may break down ( i.e., metabolize) or excrete alcohol more slowly than do adults. Some evidence suggests that infants have a limited capacity to metabolize alcohol, which in turn may render the alcohol dose more potent.

For example, studies found that like alcohol, caffeine is excreted to a limited extent in breast milk and the dose presented to the infants is generally less than 2 percent of the maternal dose. Breast-fed infants are at greater risk for accumulating caffeine, however, than are older children and adults.

  1. This accumulation may be due to a lower activity in infants of an enzyme system in the liver called the cytochrome P-450 system, which is involved in caffeine break-down.
  2. Because the same enzyme system is involved in alcohol metabolism, its reduced activity in infants could result in alcohol accumulation.

Effects on Early Learning In addition to the effects of maternal alcohol consumption on infant nutrition and development, experience with the sensory qualities of alcohol in the mother’ s milk may affect the infant in other important ways. Animal studies have revealed that young animals (including presumably humans) form memories based on orosensory experiences during nursing and retain these memories for a considerable time ( Molina et al.1999),

  • This observation is especially relevant because infants can detect the flavor of alcohol in mothers milk (Mennella 1997),
  • Moreover, the context in which the infant experiences alcohol that is, with the mother and during breastfeeding consists of numerous elements that reinforce early learning, such as tactile stimulation, warmth, milk, and the mother’ s voice.

Studies have demonstrated that such experiences can influence the infants responses to alcohol. For example, breast-fed infants differentially responded to toys that were identical in appearance but differed in scent (Mennella and Beauchamp 1998). The investigators observed infants who had been exposed to alcohol to various degrees, as inferred from questionnaires about maternal and paternal risk for alcoholism and alcohol intake, with respect to four behaviors ( i.e.

  1. Mouthing, looking, manipulating the toy, and vocalizing) in response to an alcohol-scented, vanilla-scented, or unscented toy.
  2. The study found infants who had more exposure to alcohol behaved differently in the presence of an alcohol-scented toy than did infants with less alcohol exposure.
  3. Specifically, infants who had more exposure to alcohol demonstrated more mouthing of the alcohol-scented toy, but not of the other toys, than did infants with less alcohol exposure.

This finding is consistent with animal studies indicating that rat pups exposed to the flavor of alcohol in milk increased their mouthing rates in response to alcohol odor and were more willing to ingest alcohol-flavored solutions (Hunt et al.1993),

  1. These results suggest that at least some of the early learning about alcohol is based on sensory experiences and is anchored to experiences with the parents.
  2. Research on children ages 3 to 6 years also revealed that the emotional context in which parents experience alcohol, as well as their frequency of drinking, is related to children’ s liking the odor of alcohol (Mennella and Garcia 2000).

Children of a parent or parents who drank alcohol to escape problems were more likely to judge the odor of beer as unpleasant than were similarly aged children whose parents did not drink to escape. These findings are consistent with animal studies demonstrating that pups exposed to an intoxicated mother followed by pairings of alcohol odor and an arousing texture (i.e.

  1. Sandpaper) later demonstrated an aversion to the texture ( Molina et al.2000),
  2. Moreover, they concur with previous reports that elementary school-aged children of alcoholic parents were more likely to report negative expectations regarding alcohol’ s effects than were control children (Miller et al.1990; Wiers et al.1998),

Thus, together with the results of Noll and colleagues (1990), the studies by Mennella and colleagues (Mennella and Garcia 2000; Mennella and Beauchamp 1998) indicate that the child’ s learning about alcohol may be occurring at even younger ages than previously thought.

  • Conclusions Because of the paucity of scientific investigations on alcohol’ s effects on breast-feeding, women, and consequently their infants, have had to rely on a rich folklore that has been passed down for generations.
  • This lore relates that alcohol has galactogenic properties that facilitate milk let-down and rectify milk insufficiency as well as sedative properties that alleviate and calm the fussy infant.

The scientific study of alcohol’ s effect on the lactation process has called these assumptions into serious question, however. For example, such studies indicated that infants actually ingest less milk at the breast during the hours immediately following maternal alcohol consumption and that this diminished intake results, at least in part, from alcohol’s direct effect on the mothers milk production.

Furthermore, exposure to alcohol in mothers milk disrupted the infants sleep-wake pattern and motor development in ways that are contrary to the folklore. Based on these scientific studies, it would seem that the recommendation for a nursing mother to drink a glass of beer or wine shortly before nursing may actually be counterproductive, even though the mother may be more relaxed after a drink.

Scientific evidence such as that discussed above should not frighten women away from breastfeeding, however. It is not known how many women stop breastfeeding because of their concern about alcohol in their breast milk, thereby depriving their infants of the best nutrition available for them.

Unlike the situation during pregnancy, when alcohol consumed at any time is passed on to the fetus, a lactating woman who drinks occasionally can limit her infant’ s exposure to alcohol by not nursing for several hours after drinking, until the alcohol has been eliminated from her body and, consequently, her milk.

Knowledge about the timing of alcohol s transfer to the milk and about the potential effects that alcohol exposure via breast milk has on the infant is crucial for lactating women and health care professionals to make the best decisions for infants. References HEIL, S.H.

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Developmental Psychobiology 26: 133 153, 1993. KREBS, R. Making Friends Is Our Business 100 Years of Anheuser-Busch, Missouri: A-B Inc., 1953. LAWTON, M.E. Alcohol in breast milk. Australian Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 25: 71 73, 1985. LITTLE, R.E.

Maternal use of alcohol and breast-fed infants. New England Journal of Medicine 322: 339, 1990. LITTLE, R.E. ; LAMBERT, M.D. ; AND WORTHINGTON ­ ROBERTS, B. Drinking and smoking at 3 months postpartum by lactation history. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology 4: 290 302, 1989. LITTLE, R.E. ; ANDERSON, K.W.

; ERVIN, C.H. ; WORTHINGTON-ROBERTS, B. ; AND CLARREN, S.K. Maternal alcohol use during breast feeding and infant mental and motor development at one year. New England Journal of Medicine 321: 425 430, 1990. MENDELSON, W.B., AND HILL, S.Y. : Effects of the acute administration of ethanol on the sleep of the rat: A dose-response study.

Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior 8: 723 726, 1978. MENNELLA, J.A. The human infant s suckling responses to the flavor of alcohol in mother s milk. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 21: 581 585, 1997. MENNELLA, J.A. The transfer of alcohol to human milk: Sensory implications and effects on mother-infant interaction.

In: Hannigan J.H. ; Spear, N. ; Spear, L. ; and Goodlett, C.R., eds. Alcohol and Alcoholism: Brain and Development, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 1999. pp.177 198. MENNELLA, J.A., AND BEAUCHAMP, G.K. The transfer of alcohol to human milk: Effects on flavor and the infant’ s behavior.

New England Journal of Medicine 325: 981 985, 1991. MENNELLA, J.A., AND BEAUCHAMP, G.K. Beer, breast feeding and folklore. Developmental Psycho-biology 26: 459 466, 1993. MENNELLA, J.A., AND BEAUCHAMP, G.K. The infant’ s response to scented toys: Effects of expo-sure. Chemical Senses 23: 11 17, 1998. MENNELLA, J.A.

, AND GARCIA, P.J. The child’ s hedonic response to the smell of alcohol: Effects of parental drinking habits. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 24: 1167 1171, 2000. MENNELLA, J.A., AND GERRISH, C.J. Effects of exposure to alcohol in mother s milk on infant sleep.

Pediatrics 101( 5) : 21-25, 1998. MILLER, P.M. ; SMITH, G.T. ; AND GOLDMAN, M.S. Emergence of alcohol expectancies in childhood: A possible critical period. Journal of Studies on Alcohol 31: 343 349, 1990. MOLINA, J.C. ; DOMINGUEZ, H.D. ; LOPEZ, M.F. ; PEPINO, M.Y. ; AND FAAS, A.E. The role of fetal and infantile experience with alcohol in later recognition and acceptance patterns of the drug.

In: Hannigan, J.H. ; Spear, N. ; Spear, L. ; and Goodlett, C.R., eds. Alcohol and Alcoholism: Brain and Development, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 1999. pp.199 228. MOLINA, J.C. ; PEPINO, M.Y. ; JOHNSON, J. ; AND SPEAR, N.E. The infant rat learns about alcohol through interaction with an intoxicated mother.

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Identification of alcohol by smell among preschoolers: evidence for early socialization about drugs in the home, Child Development 61: 1520 1527, 1990. SUBRAMANIAN, M.G. Alcohol inhibits suckling-induced oxytocin release in the lactating rat. Alcohol 19: 51 55, 1999.

SUBRAMANIAN, M.G., AND ABEL, E.L. Alcohol inhibits suckling-induced prolactin release and milk yield. Alcohol 5: 95 98, 1988. SWIATEK; K.R. ; DOMBROWSKI JR., G.J. ; AND CHAO, K. -L. The inefficient transfer of maternally fed alcohol to nursing rats. Alcohol 3: 169 174, 1986. VILAR ó, S. ; VIÑAS, O. ; REMESAR, X.

; AND HERRERA, E. Effects of chronic ethanol consumption on lactational performance in the rat: Mammary gland and milk composition and pups growth and metabolism. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior 27: 333 339, 1987.WIERS, R.W. ; GUNNING, W.B. ; AND SERGEANT, J.A.

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Alcohol’ s Effect on Lactation

How long does alcohol decrease milk supply?

Alcohol and Breastfeeding: Is it Safe to Drink While I’m Breastfeeding? But now that you are breastfeeding is it actually safe to enjoy that alcoholic beverage or will the effects of the alcohol be harmful to your baby? Most health care professionals agree that drinking small amounts of alcohol while breastfeeding won’t hurt your baby.

  • Roughly 34-million women of childbearing age drink alcoholic beverages (approximately half of all lactating women in Western countries consume alcohol while breastfeeding), so, it is understandable that it has been the subject of a lot of research.
  • Still, we do not know the exact way that alcohol consumption can affect babies’ and what the safe consumption amounts are.
  • Does Alcohol Get Into My Breast Milk?

The short answer is yes. Alcohol is one of the most readily absorbed drugs known and alcohol does pass from your bloodstream into your milk. Alcohol levels reach their highest in breast milk about 30-60 minutes after drinking or after 30-90 minutes if you have had something to eat while you are drinking.

If you don’t have another drink, the concentration gradually falls and a couple of hours after having a single drink the alcohol will have mostly left your breast milk. Alcohol is not stored in the breast so as your liver metabolises the alcohol causing your blood alcohol level to drop, so does the alcohol level in your breastmilk.

Should I Pump and Dump? There is no benefit in “pumping and dumping” your breastmilk unless you are uncomfortable and need to express to relieve the discomfort. As your blood alcohol drops so will the level of alcohol in your breast milk and pumping and dumping will not speed up this process.

Any breast milk that you express during the time that it takes for your blood alcohol to drop will still contain alcohol. The alcohol will not work its way out of the milk, once outside your body, and any milk pumped while you are affected by alcohol will need to be discarded. How Long Should I Wait After Drinking Alcohol to Feed My Baby? The more drinks that you have, the longer it takes for your body to clear the alcohol from your system.

Some studies suggest that the amounts of alcohol moving into breast milk are very low compared to the alcohol consumed so that the amount of alcohol that your baby actually gets is minimal and the amount of alcohol ingested by a breastfed infant is only a small fraction of that consumed by its mother.

  • What and how much you’ve eaten
  • How much you weigh
  • How quickly you are drinking. The time that it takes for your liver to detoxify the alcohol in your system will not be sped up by coffee, cold showers, fresh air or exercise.

Mothers who ingest alcohol in moderate amounts can generally return to breastfeeding as soon as they feel neurologically normal. As a general rule, if you are sober enough to drive you should be sober enough to breastfeed. Everybody metabolises alcohol differently and your metabolism of alcohol can vary from day-to-day.

  • The Australian Breastfeeding Association has a handy App to help you work out how much time you may like to wait.
  • Download the free app for Apple and Android devices.
  • One study suggests that the amount of alcohol that a baby will get through breast milk is approximately 5-6% of the weight-adjusted maternal dose and, even in a theoretical case of binge drinking, your baby would not be subjected to clinically relevant amounts of alcohol.

Many breastfeeding mums choose to stop drinking alcohol, however, occasional light drinking while breastfeeding has not been shown to have any adverse effects on babies. Alcohol is best avoided until your baby is over three months old and then enjoyed as an occasional treat.

Planning Ahead is Key If you do have an alcoholic drink, make sure you allow at least a couple of hours for the alcohol to go through your system before your next breastfeed. Alternatively, you could have a small drink while you’re actually breastfeeding your baby. By the time the alcohol is in your system, your baby will have finished feeding.

Or for total peace of mind, if you’re planning to have an alcoholic drink, you could beforehand and give that to your baby for their next feed. If, on a single occasion, you have a little more alcohol than you had planned to or if your baby needs to feed sooner than you had anticipated it is OK to breastfeed your baby.

A critical issue to consider is around the care of your baby if you are drinking alcohol. If you are under the influence of alcohol 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.

It is crucial to plan ahead to arrange that safe sleeping arrangement have been made and never to 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 or settee (this would also apply to other carers who have been drinking alcohol).

  1. Doing this has a strong association with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  2. Will Drinking Alcohol Alter My Milk Supply? Studies have shown that alcohol can affect the balance of hormones that control breast milk production (prolactin and oxytocin) and can reduce your supply.
  3. Moderate consumption can reduce oxytocin levels affecting milk supply and let down.

Alcohol itself hinders both the milk ejection reflex (responsible for your milk letdown) and milk production, especially when taken in large amounts. But even a small amount, such as a single beer or glass of wine, can disrupt the balance of milk-producing hormones in breastfeeding women.

While the immediate effects of alcohol on milk production and delivery last only as long as the alcohol is in your system, chronic alcohol use has the potential to lower your milk supply overall. But I’ve Been Told That Having Alcohol Can Increase My Breastmilk Supply? You may have heard the that drinking alcohol can help to boost your supply.

This may have been true in the past because of the way that alcohol was traditionally made and the ingredients used. The brewing process in past times differs greatly to the way that is made in modern times. In the past, not only was the alcohol content lower, the brew was also jam-packed full of grains and herbs.

  1. Nowadays, due to the lack of nutritional grains and herbs and a higher alcohol concentration, rather than increasing your supply, your breastmilk volumes are more likely to be lowered by the alcohol content.
  2. One study showed that breastfeeding women express nearly 10% less milk in the first two hours after moderate drinking (a little over one glass of wine or beer) and several other studies have shown that babies tend to get about 20 percent less breast milk if they nurse in the first four hours after the mother drinks alcohol.
  3. How Does Drinking Alcohol Affect My Breastfed Baby?

Drinking occasional small amounts of alcohol has been shown to have minor short-term effects on your baby’s behaviour. Some babies experience increased awake times and are more irritable. A small study explains that babies slept for 25% less time after exposure to small amounts of alcohol in breast milk.

And while breastfed babies may become drowsy and fall asleep more quickly after their mother drinks alcohol, they also sleep for a shorter amount of time. Alcohol in your breast milk can also change the way that your breast milk tastes and smells and therefore may change the way that your baby feeds.

Your baby may be reluctant to or refuse to, feed while the smell and taste of your breast milk remain altered by the alcohol. Bear in mind that alcohol can temporarily reduce your milk supply. So, if you do have a drink, your baby may seem hungrier and want to feed more.

  1. Studies have found that babies breastfeed more frequently, but consume less milk in the 3-4 hours after an alcoholic beverage is consumed.
  2. The long-term effects of drinking alcohol while breastfeeding are less clear and further research needs to be done.
  3. Regardless of this, drinking regularly or heavily while breastfeeding is not advised.

Moderate, heavy or continued drinking and may lead to drowsiness, deep sleep, weakness and decreased growth for your baby. Alcohol abuse (excessive drinking) by the mother can result in slow weight gain or failure to thrive in her baby. The let-down of a mother who abuses alcohol may be affected by her alcohol consumption, and she may not breastfeed enough.

  • The baby may sleep excessively, or may not suck effectively leading to decreased milk intake.
  • The baby may even suffer from delayed motor development.
  • Everything in Moderation So, it is possible to have a drink while you are breastfeeding – just in moderation! Remember that small amounts of alcohol move into breast milk when you drink an alcoholic beverage and as your body metabolises the alcohol the amount in your breast milk will also decrease.

Drinking small amounts of alcohol occasionally won’t affect your baby, however drinking regularly or heavily may affect your milk supply, make your baby sleepy or affect their growth and development. A little planning ahead can help you to minimise the amount of alcohol that reaches your baby and help you enjoy the occasional drink.

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  • Haastrup MB et al. Alcohol and breastfeeding. Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol.2014;114(2):168-173.
  • Mennella JA. Regulation of milk intake after exposure to alcohol in mothers’ milk. Alcohol Clin Exp Res.2001;25(4):590-593
  • Mennella JA. Short-term effects of maternal alcohol consumption on lactational performance. Alcohol Clin Exp Res.1998(7);22:1389-1392.
  • Mennella, J.A. & Gerrish, C.J. (1998). Effects of exposure to alcohol in mother’s milk on infant sleep. Pediatrics, 101
  • Newman, J. (1996). Is Alcohol So Bad for Breastfeeding Mothers? Journal of Human Lactation, 12(2), 93–93.
  • Schulte, P. (1995). Minimising Alcohol Exposure of the Breastfeeding Infant. Journal of Human Lactation, 11(4), 317–319.
  • Hale, Thomas., 2017 edition. Springer Publishing, 2017: 348-350.

DISCLAIMER: This information provides general information only. For specific advice about your baby or your healthcare needs, you should seek advice from your health professional. Medela does not accept any responsibility for loss or damage arising from your reliance on this information instead of seeing a health professional.

See also:  How Quickly Does Alcohol Evaporate?

Can you breastfeed after drinking if you dont feel drunk?

‘ If you’re feeling sober enough to drive, you’re usually sober enough to breastfeed,’ Bechhold said. Some new mothers may have a lower tolerance to alcohol after abstaining from drinking during their pregnancy. They may feel the effects of even one drink more than they previously would.

What percentage of alcohol is safe in breast milk?

Wait at least two hours before nursing – Ultimately, just as in pregnancy, there is no known safe level of alcohol consumption while breastfeeding, We cannot know for certain the safety of even small amounts of alcohol for young babies. Research does suggest that alcohol exposure above moderate levels through feeding an infant immediately after drinking alcohol may be harmful.

One study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that exposure to alcohol above one drink per day through breast milk may be detrimental to infant motor development, Another study published in Pediatrics found that infants who were given breast milk approximately one hour after their mothers consumed alcohol may have impaired sleep-wake patterns,

However, studies do show that occasional alcohol consumption (defined as less than one drink per day) is unlikely to be harmful, Timing infant feeds is one possible way to minimize how much alcohol your baby is exposed to. Guidelines published in Canadian Family Physician, in conjunction with Motherisk, provide recommendations surrounding the timing of nursing and maternal alcohol consumption.

What happens if baby drinks milk with alcohol?

Alcohol use, infant sleep – Even small amounts of alcohol in human milk have been shown to disrupt and shorten total duration of infant sleep. Mennella and Garcia-Gomez observed infants after consumption of milk 1 hour after maternal intake of 0.3 g/kg of alcohol (slightly more than 1 standard drink for a 132.3-lb.

  • Person ), and sleep was noted to be more fragmented and was overall diminished during the 3.5 to 4 hours that followed.
  • When infants were observed for 24 hours, they appeared to compensate by spending more time in active sleep from 3.5 to 24 hours following consumption of alcohol-containing milk.22 Infants exposed to even low doses of alcohol in milk may experience more arousal than sedation.

Schuetz and colleagues observed infants to be fussier, with more frequent crying and startling, in the hour following the consumption of alcohol-containing milk. Although some of this behavior may have been explained by maternal behavior after alcohol consumption, these findings are consistent with the diminished sleep and increased infant arousal noted in other studies.23

Can you drink milk the day after drinking alcohol?

What about oat milk or chocolate milk (or any other type of milk) for hangovers? – The truth is, the difference is marginal. Milk does not contain magic hangover-curing ingredients. It’s a nutritious drink that will provide you with some energy and hydration.

Can we drink milk next day after alcohol?

Milk – A night on the White Russians may mean less of a hangover because they contain milk. Nutritionist Ian Marber says: “Milk last thing at night might help replace lost minerals,” while Shah adds: “Milk contains a protein called casein, which can counteract alcohol and aid sleep.” It isn’t the best source of minerals, though, says Marber.

How does breast milk get rid of alcohol?

As alcohol leaves your bloodstream, it leaves your breastmilk. Since alcohol is not ‘trapped’ in breastmilk (it returns to the bloodstream as your blood alcohol level declines), pumping and dumping will not remove it.

Can I breastfeed 5 hours after drinking?

What is a “drink”? – The defines a standard “drink” as 12 ounces of 5% beer; 8 ounces of 7% malt liquor; 5 ounces of 12% wine; or 1.5 ounces of 40% (80 proof) liquor. All of these drinks contain the same amount (i.e., 14 grams, or 0.6 ounces) of pure alcohol. How Long After Alcohol Breastfeeding Not drinking alcohol is the safest option for breastfeeding mothers. Generally, moderate alcohol consumption by a breastfeeding mother (up to 1 standard drink per day) is not known to be harmful to the infant, especially if the mother waits at least 2 hours after a single drink before nursing.

How long after 5 drinks can I breastfeed?

I’m breastfeeding. Is it OK to drink alcohol? – Answer From Elizabeth LaFleur, R.N. Breastfeeding and alcohol don’t mix well. There’s no level of alcohol in breast milk that’s considered safe for a baby to drink. When you drink alcohol, it passes into your breast milk at concentrations similar to those found in your bloodstream.

Although a breastfed baby is exposed to just a fraction of the alcohol his or her mother drinks, a newborn eliminates alcohol from his or her body at only half the rate of an adult. Research suggests that breastfed babies who are exposed to one drink a day might have impaired motor development and that alcohol can cause changes in sleep patterns.

Also, while folklore says that drinking alcohol improves milk production, studies show that alcohol actually decreases milk production and that the presence of alcohol in breast milk causes babies to drink about 20% less breast milk. If you choose to drink, avoid breastfeeding until alcohol has completely cleared your breast milk.

This typically takes 2 to 3 hours for 12 ounces (355 milliliters) of 5% beer, 5 ounces (148 milliliters) of 11% wine or 1.5 ounces (44 milliliters) of 40% liquor, depending on your body weight. If you plan to drink alcohol, consider having a drink just after breastfeeding so that the alcohol begins to clear your breast milk during the natural interval between breastfeeding sessions.

Pumping and dumping breast milk doesn’t speed the elimination of alcohol from your body. However, if you’ll be missing a breastfeeding session, pumping and dumping will help you maintain your milk supply and avoid engorgement. Remember, breastfeeding is the optimal way to feed a newborn and is recommended until a baby is at least age 1.

Is there alcohol in breast milk when hungover?

Guidelines –

Current research says that occasional use of alcohol (1-2 drinks) does not appear to be harmful to the nursing baby, Many experts recommend against drinking more than 1-2 drinks per week.

Per Hale (2019), “mothers who ingest alcohol in moderate amounts can generally return to breastfeeding as soon as they feel neurologically normal.” The American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding notes: “ingestion of alcoholic beverages should be minimized and limited to an occasional intake but no more than 0.5 g alcohol per kg body weight, which for a 60 kg mother is approximately 2 oz liquor, 8 oz wine, or 2 beers. Nursing should take place 2 hours or longer after the alcohol intake to minimize its concentration in the ingested milk.”

There is no need to pump & dump milk after drinking alcohol, other than for mom’s comfort — pumping & dumping does not speed the elimination of alcohol from the milk. If you’re away from your baby, try to pump as often as baby usually nurses (this is to maintain milk supply, not because of the alcohol). At the very least, pump or hand express whenever you feel uncomfortably full – this will help you to avoid plugged ducts and mastitis. Alcohol does NOT increase milk production, and has been shown to inhibit let-down and decrease milk production (see below). Never share a bed or other sleeping surface with your baby if you have been drinking. Drinking affects your natural reflexes, and drinking and bed-sharing has an increased association with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). What if you drink too much? If you have drunk enough alcohol to make you feel disorientated or cause vomiting, do not breastfeed until you are sober. Make sure someone who is not intoxicated is present to care for your child(ren). If possible, express your milk for comfort and to help maintain your supply (milk expressed while intoxicated should not be fed to baby). Binge drinking has not been studied adequately, and is not recommended during lactation.

In general, if you are sober enough to drive, you are sober enough to breastfeed. Less than 2% of the alcohol consumed by the mother reaches her blood and milk. Alcohol peaks in mom’s blood and milk approximately 1/2-1 hour after drinking (but there is considerable variation from person to person, depending upon how much food was eaten in the same time period, mom’s body weight and percentage of body fat, etc.). How Long After Alcohol Breastfeeding Image credit: kizzzbeth on flickr CC BY 2.0 Always keep in mind the baby’s age when considering the effect of alcohol. A newborn has a very immature liver, so minute amounts of alcohol would be more of a burden. Up until around 3 months of age, infants detoxify alcohol at around half the rate of an adult.

How long does 3 standard drinks take to get out of your system?

How Long Will It Take for Alcohol to Leave Your Body?

Time of Drinks Number of Drinks Consumed Time Alcohol Has Left Body
1:00pm 10 standard drinks 11:00pm
5:00pm 3 standard drinks 8:00pm
5:00pm 5 standard drinks 10:00pm
5:00pm 10 standard drinks 3:00am

Can I breastfeed the day after heavy drinking?

After drinking alcohol, how long should I wait to breastfeed? – On average, it takes about 2 to 3 hours for a glass of wine or beer to leave your system, so it’s best to wait a few hours to breastfeed. Obviously the more you drink, the longer it takes. If your baby is under 3 months old, it will take them longer to process the alcohol, as their liver is still developing. How Long After Alcohol Breastfeeding If you express before drinking alcohol, your baby can be bottle-fed with your breast milk. If you need to miss a feed, don’t let your breasts become uncomfortably full as this can lead to, It’s best to express your breast milk rather than be uncomfortable. One unit of alcohol =

a small glass of wine (125ml) half a pint of beer single measure of a spirit (25ml)

If you’ve been drinking, never sleep with your baby. There is a strong link between and alcohol. If you know that you’re going to have a few drinks, arrange for another (sober) adult to look after your baby. How Long After Alcohol Breastfeeding

Do I have to pump and dump after one drink?

Is pumping and dumping after you’ve been drinking always necessary before breastfeeding your baby? – No. If you have one alcoholic drink and wait two hours to feed your baby, you don’t need to pump and dump. And if engorgement and milk supply are not an issue, you can just wait for the liquor to metabolize naturally.

What to Expect the First Year, 3rd edition, Heidi,, July,, July,, July,, April 2020.American Academy of Pediatrics,, 2022.American Academy of Pediatrics,, July 2020.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,, February 2021.La Leche League International,, March 2021.La Leche League GB,, 2020.March of Dimes,, April 2016.Mayo Clinic,, January 2018.National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism,,

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How long does dairy stay in your system when breastfeeding?

Cow’s milk protein can stay in mom’s body for 1 ½ to 2 weeks, and then it may be another 1 ½ to 2 weeks for the protein to get out of the baby’s system. Fussiness is one of the most common symptoms of a food sensitivity or intolerance.