Can alcohol be found in breast milk? – Yes. Alcohol levels are usually highest in breast milk 30-60 minutes after an alcoholic beverage is consumed, and can be generally detected in breast milk for about 2-3 hours per drink after it is consumed. However, the length of time alcohol can be detected in breast milk will increase the more alcohol a mother consumes.
How long should you wait to drink alcohol after having a baby?
When Can You Have Celebratory Champagne? – As soon as you want. Itching for a drink? The good news is you can have one right after baby is born, if you really wanted to. But for breastfeeding moms, “the timing of the drink is important,” Franke says. Like coffee, the best time to indulge is right after feeding baby.
- To avoid passing any alcohol to your little one through your breast milk, “you should wait two to three hours before nursing” after having a single drink.
- To be honest, whether you’re nursing or not, we doubt you’ll want a glass of bubbly right after birth—sleep and a burger might be more your speed.
See how you feel. Within one to six weeks. “Mothers who have vaginal deliveries can generally return to exercise sooner than those who have had c-sections,” says Mudd, “but both can do light exercise, such as walking, whenever they feel ready.” We’re talking light here—not strenuous exercises or high-impact aerobics.
How much alcohol passed through 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.
Breast milk is a complex fluid produced by the mother’s body that fulfills a similar nutritional function as does the placenta during pregnancy. That is, it protects the infant from disease and influences certain aspects of the infant’ s behavior and physiology. 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),
- In contrast, breast-feeding women limited their use of other drugs ( e.g.
- Were less likely to smoke cigarettes or marijuana or to use cocaine),
- In the same survey approximately 10 percent of lactating women reported consuming at least one drink daily.
- 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.
These glands are present from birth, but become fully functional for milk production only during pregnancy. Several hormones regulate the development of the mammary glands as well as the initiation and maintenance of lactation. 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.
In addition to its role in mammary gland development and initiation of lactation, prolactin also is essential for the maintenance of lactation. During each feeding session, the infant s suckling at the breast induces prolactin release from the pituitary gland. 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).
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.
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. 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.
Mouthing, looking, manipulating the toy, and vocalizing) in response to an alcohol-scented, vanilla-scented, or unscented toy. 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. 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),
- 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.
- 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.
, sandpaper) later demonstrated an aversion to the texture ( Molina et al.2000), 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.
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; 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.
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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.
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- Acute maternal alcohol consumption disrupts behavioral state organization in the near-term fetus,
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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.
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- Alcohol inhibits suckling-induced prolactin release and milk yield.
- Alcohol 5: 95 98, 1988.
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; 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.
|Can Alcohol-Associated Cognitive Deficits Hamper Recovery From Alcoholism? New findings relevant to this and other questions can be found in Alcohol Alert, the quarterly bulletin published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol Alert provides timely information on alcohol research and treatment. Each issue addresses a specific topic in alcohol research and summarizes critical findings in a brief, four-page, easy-to-read format. Cognitive Impairment and Recovery From Alcoholism (No.53) describes the nature and consequences of common alcohol-associated cognitive defects, explores the extent to which some cognitive abilities recover with abstinence, and summarizes recent research on the effects of cognitive deficits on alcoholism treatment outcome.
|For a free subscription to Alcohol Alert, write to: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Attn.: Alcohol Alert, Publications Distribution Center, P.O. Box 10686, Rockville, MD 20849 0686. Fax: (202) 842 0418. Alcohol Alert is also available on NIAAA s Web site (http: / / www.niaaa.nih.gov).
Alcohol’ s Effect on Lactation
How long to wait to breastfeed after drinking calculator?
So how long does it take to be safe? – It depends. Scientists have looked at this exact question (yay science!). Usually, the standard rule is 2 hours for every standard drink.4 But each person’s body works a little differently. The best predictors they found are your weight and how many drinks you’ve had.
Eep in mind, not all drinks are equal. In the US, a “standard drink” is defined as containing 14 grams of alcohol (see below for examples). Many common drinks contain much more alcohol than the standard. Be sure to use how many standard drinks you’ve had in the calculatornot the number of actual drinks.
Need help with this? NIAAA can help you figure it out here. At the InfantRisk Center, we recommend that after moderate drinking you can return to breastfeeding as soon as you feel neurologically normal. However, we know this makes many moms uncomfortable. To find out how long it will take your body to eliminate drinks from breastmilk, use this calculator backed by real research to estimate how long it will take for there to be NO alcohol in your milk—your time-to-zero,
Can I sleep with my baby after drinking?
Why do you advise against co-sleeping in certain scenarios? – Click here to open this question It is estimated that around half of SIDS deaths occur whilst co-sleeping, and that most of these are in high risk situations. We do not know the cause of SIDS and why these deaths happen but we do know what some of the risk factors are and that removing those risks greatly lowers the chance of SIDS occurring.
Do I have to wait 6 weeks after having a baby?
Sex after pregnancy: what you need to know The first few months after having a baby are tough. Not only are you settling into a routine that involves feedings, diaper changes and a lot of sleepless nights, you’re also recovering from the birth itself.
- With everything going on, sex is probably the last thing on your mind—and that’s okay.
- When you’re fully recovered and ready to be intimate again, there are ways to reconnect with your partner in a safe, loving way that’s personal to you.
- How long to wait: think “safety first” Most doctors recommend waiting six weeks after giving birth to have sex again.
This allows for general healing and for your body to recover from specific birth-related issues, such as:
Vaginal tear or episiotomy (an incision that enlarges the vaginal opening for the baby to come through) Cesarean incision
Everyone heals at a different pace, so listen to your body. If you’re not ready for sex in six weeks—either physically or emotionally—be patient with yourself. Talk to your partner about your feelings, and find other ways to bond. Cuddle under the covers, give each other a massage or go for a walk—just the two of you—while someone watches the baby.
Vaginal soreness or pain Vaginal dryness, especially if you’re breastfeeding Discharge Nipple soreness Backaches and joint pain Cesarean incision pain or numbness
Most of these issues go away on their own, but there are things you can do to make sex feel better as your body heals. What you can do: take these steps as you heal
Seek pain relief. Before having sex, empty your bladder and take over-the-counter pain medicine. If you feel burning afterwards, apply ice wrapped in a towel to the area. Use a lubricant. Vaginal dryness is a common problem as your hormones readjust, so apply a lubricant to make the area wetter. Look for a water-based option since oil-based ones can irritate sensitive tissue. Increase foreplay. Give your vagina time to produce its own natural lubrication. Stretch out foreplay, try mutual masturbation or engage in other activities that arouse you and your partner. Practice Kegel exercises. Kegels can rebuild your pelvic muscles and help with common post-delivery issues, like increased urination. Exercising the muscles can also help you regain strength and sensation in your vagina. Make time for sex. With a new baby in the house, you don’t have much “alone time” for your partner—so schedule it on the calendar! This way, you won’t feel rushed or anxious. Communicate with your partner. Sex after pregnancy is different—but different can be exciting. Talk with your partner about what feels good and what doesn’t. Be patient and understanding with each other. Honest communication can help put you on the path to a healthy, fulfilling sex life.
What you should know: getting pregnant again Believe it or not, you can get pregnant again within a month or two of giving birth—even before your first period. Doctors recommend waiting at least eighteen months before getting pregnant again, which gives your body enough time to prepare for another pregnancy. To prevent getting pregnant too soon, it’s important to use a safe, reliable form of birth control. There are many factors to consider when choosing birth control, like lifestyle, medical history, long-term family plans and impact on breastfeeding. Ask yourself these 3 questions when choosing birth control How much effort will it take? Each form of birth control requires different amounts of effort from you to be effective.
For example, IUDs and implants are low maintenance since you don’t need to do anything once your doctor implants them. Other methods require more conscious effort, like the Pill (which needs to be taken at the same time each day). Learning how to use birth control correctly can take time and practice.
If you use them wrong, they may not work and you could become pregnant.2. Is it safe for breastfeeding? Some types of hormonal birth control options aren’t safe to use when breastfeeding, so it’s important to discuss them with your doctor before using them.3.
- Does it support my birth spacing plan? If you plan on having another baby, think about how long you want to wait before getting pregnant again (after the 18-month safety period).
- Certain birth control methods prevent pregnancy for longer periods of time than others.
- For example, IUDs and implants can work for years, while barrier methods can be easily started and stopped.
So timing is something you should consider if life circumstances (like your age) are a factor. What to consider: selecting birth control Birth control is a personal decision—and one that only you can make after discussing the various factors with your doctor.
SIUDs and implants. Your doctor places these plastic devices in your body to prevent pregnancy for long periods of time. You can breastfeed while using a non-copper IUD or implant. When you’re ready to get pregnant again, your doctor removes them. Hormonal methods. The popular Pill and the patch contain hormones that prevent you from ovulating and getting pregnant. If you’re breastfeeding, discuss these options with your doctor to make sure they’re safe. Barrier methods. Condoms and diaphragms are examples of common barrier methods. They work by blocking or killing your partner’s sperm from reaching and fertilizing your egg. Condoms also help protect you from sexually transmitted infections and diseases. Natural family planning. With this method (also called fertility awareness or rhythm method), you track your menstrual cycle to figure out when you’re ovulating in order to avoid having unprotected sex.
, : Sex after pregnancy: what you need to know
Do you really have to wait 6 weeks after giving birth?
How does your body change in the weeks after giving birth? Many things are happening in your body right after you have a baby. During pregnancy, your body changed a lot. It worked hard to keep your baby safe and healthy. Now that your baby is here, your body is changing again.
- Some of these changes are physical, like your breasts getting full of milk.
- Others are emotional, like feeling extra stress.
- Many discomforts and body changes after giving birth are normal.
- But sometimes they’re signs or symptoms of a health problem that needs treatment.
- Go to all of your postpartum checkups, even if you’re feeling fine.
These are medical checkups you get after having a baby to make sure you’re recovering well from labor and birth, At your checkups, your health care provider can help spot and treat health conditions. Postpartum care is important because new moms are at risk of serious and sometimes life-threatening health complications in the days and weeks after giving birth.
- PHYSICAL CHANGES What is perineum soreness? The perineum is the area between your vagina and rectum.
- It stretches and may tear during labor and vaginal birth.
- It’s often sore after giving birth, and it may be more sore if you have an episiotomy.
- This is a cut made at the opening of the vagina to help let your baby out.
What you can do:
Do Kegel exercises. These exercises strengthen the muscles in the pelvic area. To do Kegel exercises, squeeze the muscles that you use to stop yourself from passing urine (peeing). Hold the muscles tight for 10 seconds and then release. Try to do this at least 10 times in a row, three times a day. Put a cold pack on your perineum. Use ice wrapped in a towel. Or you can buy cold packs that you freeze in your freezer. Sit on a pillow or a donut-shaped cushion. Soak in a warm bath. Wipe from front to back after going to the bathroom. This can help prevent infection as your episiotomy heals. Ask your provider about pain medicine.
What are afterbirth pains? Afterbirth pains are belly cramps you feel as your uterus (womb) shrinks back to its regular size after pregnancy. The cramps should go away in a few days. Right after you give birth, your uterus is round and hard and weighs about 2½ pounds.
By about 6 weeks after birth, it weighs only 2 ounces. What you can do: Ask your provider about over-the-counter medicine you can take for pain. Over-the-counter medicine is medicine you can buy without a prescription from your provider. What body changes can happen after a c-section? Cesarean birth (also called c-section) is surgery in which your baby is born through a cut that your provider makes in your belly and uterus.
A c-section is major surgery, so it may take a while for you to recover. You may be really tired for the first few days or weeks after a c-section because you lost blood during the surgery. The incision (cut) on your belly may be sore. What you can do:
Ask your provider for pain medicine. Check with him before you take any medicine for pain. Ask your partner, family and friends to help you with the baby and around the house. Get rest when you can. Sleep when your baby sleeps, even when he naps during the day. Don’t lift from a squatting position. Don’t lift anything heavier than your baby. Support your belly with pillows when you’re breastfeeding, Drink plenty of water to help replace fluids in your body.
What is vaginal discharge? After your baby is born, your body gets rid of the blood and tissue that was inside your uterus. This is called vaginal discharge or lochia. For the first few days, it’s heavy, bright red and may contain blood clots, Over time, the flow gets less and lighter in color.
You may have discharge for a few weeks or even for a month or more. What you can do: Use sanitary pads until the discharge stops. What is breast engorgement? This is when your breasts swell as they fill with milk. It usually happens a few days after giving birth. Your breasts may feel tender and sore. The discomfort usually goes away once you start breastfeeding regularly.
If you’re not breastfeeding, it may last until your breasts stop making milk, usually within a few days. What you can do:
Breastfeed your baby. Try not to miss a feeding or go a long time between feedings. Don’t skip night feedings. Before you breastfeed your baby, express a small amount of milk from your breast with a breast pump or by hand. Take a warm shower or lay warm towels on your breasts to help your milk flow. If your engorgement is really painful, put cold packs on your breasts. If your breasts are leaking between feedings, wear nursing pads in your bra so your clothes don’t get wet. Tell your provider if your breasts stay swollen and are painful. If you’re not planning to breastfeed, wear a firm, supportive bra (like a sports bra).
What is nipple pain? If you’re breastfeeding, you may have nipple plain during the first few days, especially if your nipples crack. What you can do:
Talk to your provider or a lactation consultant to be sure your baby is latching on to your breast the right way. A lactation consultant is a person trained to help women breastfeed, even women who have breastfeeding problems. Latching on is when your baby’s mouth is securely attached to (placed around) your nipple. Ask your provider about cream to put on your nipples. After breastfeeding, massage some breast milk onto your nipples. Let your breasts air dry.
What is swelling? Lots of women have swelling in their hands, feet and face during pregnancy. It’s caused by extra fluids in your body. It may take time for the swelling to go away after you have your baby. What you can do:
Lie on your left side when resting or sleeping. Put your feet up. Try to stay cool and wear loose clothes. Drink plenty of water.
What are hemorrhoids? Hemorrhoids are painful, swollen veins in and around the anus that may hurt or bleed. Hemorrhoids are common during and after pregnancy. What you can do:
Soak in a warm bath. Ask your provider about using an over-the-counter spray or cream for pain. Eat foods that are high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables and whole-grain breads and cereals. Drink lots of water. Try not to strain when you’re having a bowel movement (pooping).
What is constipation? Constipation is when you don’t have bowel movements, you don’t have them often or your stools (poop) are hard to pass. You also may have painful gas. This may happen for a few days after you give birth. What you can do:
Eat foods that are high in fiber. Drink lots of water. Ask your provider about medicine to take.
What urinary problems can happen after giving birth? In the first few days after giving birth, you may feel pain or burning when you urinate (pee). Or you may try to urinate but find that you can’t. Sometimes you may not be able to stop urinating. This is called incontinence.
Drink lots of water. Run water in the sink when you go to the bathroom. Soak in a warm bath. If the pain continues, tell your provider.
What you can do for incontinence: Do Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic muscles. Why do you sweat a lot after giving birth? This happens often to new moms, especially at night. It’s caused by all the changing hormones in your body after pregnancy. What you can do:
Sleep on a towel to help keep your sheets and pillow dry. Don’t use too many blankets or wear warm clothes to bed.
Why do you feel tired after giving birth? You may have lost blood during labor and birth. This can make your body tired. And your baby probably doesn’t let you sleep all night! What you can do:
Sleep when your baby sleeps, even when he naps during the day. Eat healthy foods, like fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads and pasta, and lean meat and chicken. Limit sweets and foods with a lot of fat. Ask your partner, family and friends to help with the baby and around the house. Limit visitors. You’ll have plenty of time for family and friends to meet your new baby when you’re feeling rested.
When can you start losing weight after giving birth? You lose about 10 pounds right away after giving birth and a little more within the first week. This is a great time to get to a healthy weight, no matter how much you weighed before you got pregnant.
Eating healthy and being active every day helps boost your energy level and can make you feel better. If you’re at a healthy weight, you’re less likely to have health conditions, like diabetes and high blood pressure, than if you’re over- or underweight. And just in case you get pregnant again, or if you’re planning to have another baby sometime in the future, it’s best to be at a healthy weight before your next pregnancy.
What you can do:
Talk to your provider about your weight. If you were overweight before pregnancy, you may want to lose more weight than you gained during pregnancy. Eat healthy foods. Limit sweets and foods with a lot of fat. Drink lots of water. Ask your provider about being active, especially if you’ve had a c-section. Begin slowly and increase your activity over time. Walking and swimming are great activities for new moms. Do something active every day. Breastfeed your baby. Breastfeeding helps you burn calories. This can help you lose the weight you gained during pregnancy faster than if you weren’t breastfeeding. Don’t try to lose too much weight too fast. Your body needs nutrients from food to heal. If you’re breastfeeding, losing weight too fast can reduce your milk supply. Don’t feel badly if you don’t lose the weight as quickly as you’d like. It takes time for your body and your belly to get back in shape. Staying fit over time is more important than getting in shape right after giving birth.
What skin changes can happen after giving birth? You may have stretch marks on your belly where your skin stretched during pregnancy. Some women also get them on their thighs, hips and bottom. They may not disappear after giving birth, but they do fade over time.
What you can do: Use creams or lotions on your skin. They don’t make stretch marks go away, but they can help reduce itching that comes with stretch marks. What hair changes can happen after giving birth? Your hair may have seemed thicker and fuller during pregnancy. This is because high hormone levels in your body made you lose less hair during pregnancy.
After your baby is born, your hair may thin out. You may even lose hair. Hair loss usually stops within 6 months after you give birth. Your hair should regain its normal fullness within a year. What you can do:
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. The nutrients in fruits and veggies may help protect your hair and help it grow. Be gentle with your hair. Don’t wear tight ponytails, braids or rollers. These can pull and stress your hair. Use the cool setting on your hair dryer.
When do you get your period again after pregnancy? If you’re not breastfeeding, your period may start again 6 to 8 weeks after giving birth. If you are breastfeeding, it may not start again for months. Some women don’t have a period again until they stop breastfeeding.
When your period returns, it may not be the same as before you were pregnant. It may be shorter or longer than it was. Over time it often returns to the way it was before you got pregnant. When can you get pregnant again? Many health care providers recommend waiting 4 to 6 weeks after giving birth to give your body time to heal before you have sex.
When you’re ready for sex, be careful – you can get pregnant even before your period starts. This is because you may ovulate (release an egg) before you get your period again. What you can do: Use birth control to help make sure you don’t get pregnant again until you’re ready.
Birth control helps keep you from getting pregnant. Examples of birth control include intrauterine devices (also called IUDs), implants, the pill and condoms. Talk to your provider about which birth control to use, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Some types of birth control can reduce your milk supply.
Breastfeeding is not birth control. It does not prevent pregnancy. For most women, it’s best to wait at least 18 months (1½ years) between giving birth and getting pregnant again. Too little time between pregnancies increases your risk of premature birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy).
- Premature babies are more likely to have health problems than babies born on time.
- Your body needs time to fully recover from your last pregnancy before it’s ready for your next pregnancy.
- EMOTIONAL CHANGES What can you do about feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Your baby didn’t come with a set of instructions.
You may feel overwhelmed trying to take care of her. Taking care of a baby is a lot to think about. What you can do:
Tell your partner how you feel. Let your partner help take care of the baby. Ask your friends and family for help. Tell them exactly what they can do for you, like going grocery shopping or making meals. Find a support group of new moms. A support group is a group of people who have the same kinds of concerns. They meet together to try to help each other. Ask your provider to help you find a support group of new moms near where you live. Or look for a support group online. Eat healthy foods and do something active every day. Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or use harmful drugs. All of these things are bad for you and can make it hard for you to handle stress.
What are the baby blues and postpartum depression? Baby blues (also called postpartum blues) are feelings of sadness a woman may have in the first few days after having a baby. Baby blues can happen 2 to 3 days after you have your baby and can last up to 2 weeks.
- They usually go away on their own, and you don’t need any treatment.
- Postpartum depression (also called PPD) is a kind of depression that some women get after having a baby.
- It’s strong feelings of sadness, anxiety (worry) and tiredness that last for a long time after giving birth.
- These feelings can make it hard for you to take care of yourself and your baby.
PPD is a medical condition that needs treatment to get better. It’s the most common complication for women who have just had a baby. What you can do about the baby blues:
Get as much sleep as you can. Don’t drink alcohol, use street drugs or use harmful drugs, All of these can affect your mood and make you feel worse. And they can make it hard for you to take care of your baby. Ask for help from your partner, family and friends. Tell them exactly what they can do for you. Take time for yourself. Ask someone you trust to watch your baby so you can get out of the house. Connect with other new moms. Ask your provider to help you find a support group of new moms. If you have sad feelings that last longer than 2 weeks, tell your health care provider.
What you can do about postpartum depression:
If you think you have PPD, tell your provider. Learn about risk factors for PPD and signs and symptoms of PPD. Ask your provider about treatment for PPD. If you’re worried about hurting yourself or your baby, call emergency services (911) right away.
How can you handle going back to work or school? It may be hard for you to leave your baby with a caregiver all day, even if it’s a family member or a close friend. It also may be hard to find a caregiver you trust. You and your partner may disagree about what type of child care is best for your baby. You may be upset that you can’t stay home with your baby all the time. What you can do:
Talk to your partner about child care. Figure out how much you can spend and what kind of care you want. For example, you can have a caregiver come to your home to take care of your baby. Or you can take your baby to a child care center. Ask friends and family about child care they use. Maybe you can use the same person or service. If you’re using a child care center, ask for names and phone numbers of people who use the center. Call to ask how they feel about the center’s care. Ask your boss if you can ease back into work. Maybe you can work a few hours a day at first, or just a few days a week.
How can you and your partner get used to being new parents? Both you and your partner are getting used to having a baby around. Your partner may be just as stressed and nervous about being a parent as you are. Rely on each other to figure things out. What you can do:
Learn about taking care of your baby together. Read baby-care books and go to baby-care classes. Let your partner help with the baby. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Talk to each other. Talking about your feelings can help keep you from feeling hurt and frustrated. Make time for just the two of you. Go for a walk or out to dinner. Ask someone you trust to take care of the baby for an hour or two. Tell your partner what your provider says about how long to wait to have sex again. Ask your provider to talk to your partner, if you think that’s helpful.
Last reviewed: July, 2018 See also: Your postpartum checkups, Warning signs and symptoms of health problems after giving birth, Maternal death and pregnancy-related death, Postpartum depression, Baby blues after pregnancy, Keeping breast milk safe and healthy, Birth control, How long should you wait before getting pregnant again
How long after smoking can I breastfeed again?
Breastfeeding and Smoking – If you smoke just before breastfeeding, nicotine is transmitted to your baby in your breast milk, The half-life of nicotine is about an hour and a half, meaning it will still be in your breastmilk for at least three hours after you smoke.
- Some nicotine may remain after this time.
- Smoking can also inhibit your milk production and might reduce the level of vitamin C that your baby is getting through your breastmilk.
- If you continue to smoke when you are breastfeeding, wait to have a cigarette until after you have completed a feeding.
You might be advised to wait at least three to four hours before breastfeeding again–even if it means that you have to pump and dump (where you express and discard some breastmilk). However, waiting this long is not always possible—especially in the early weeks when a newborn needs to eat more frequently.
Can I breastfeed if I drank 6 hours ago?
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. 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.
When can I breastfeed after 5 drinks?
Reduction of letdown is apparently dose-dependent and requires alcohol consumption of 1.5 to 1.9 gm/kg body weight. Other studies have suggested psychomotor delay in infants of moderate drinkers (2+ drinks daily). Avoid breastfeeding during and for 2 – 3 hours after drinking alcohol. Heavy drinkers should wait longer.
Can alcohol in breastmilk damage babys liver?
How alcohol in breastmilk can affect your baby – If you drink, the level of alcohol in your breast milk will rise and fall along with the alcohol in your bloodstream.2 Babies are growing and developing rapidly. Alcohol can have a number of harmful effects, including damaging the developing brain 3 and organs such as the liver.