Can I drink alcohol while breastfeeding?

Yes and no. A little amount of alcohol consumption may actually help the "letdown" process of breastfeeding, allowing easier production and flow of breast milk. Some of this can aid in relaxing the mom as well. However, this should be only a small amount. Some suggest only a quarter cup of beer or the equivalent. Drinking too much alcohol can interfere with the mother's health and mental well-being. Little alcohol actually passes into the breast milk, but this is not saying that it is safe.
Intermountain Healthcare
Administration
Breastfeeding moms shouldn’t drink alcohol. Alcohol is concentrated in mother’s milk and can affect your baby. It can also lower the amount of milk your body produces.

But if you do decide to drink, follow these guidelines:
  • After a single drink, wait at least two hours before breastfeeding.
  • If you become uncomfortable while waiting to breastfeed after a drink, pump your milk to relieve the pressure of overly full breasts. Don’t give this milk to your baby -- throw it away.
Diana K. Blythe, MD
Pediatrics

A breastfeeding mother can drink alcohol but she should limit the alcohol to one or two drinks. Once you are no longer feeling the effects of the alcohol, you may breastfeed your child. If you go out and have more than one or two drinks, you still have to wait until you are no longer feeling the effects of the alcohol before you breastfeed again and this will take much longer.

 

Abstain from drinking alcohol while you are breastfeeding. Alcohol can be passed to babies through breast milk and negatively affect your ability to let down or release milk.
You may be surprised to know that occasional moderate alcohol consumption is actually OK (the American Academy of Pediatrics even says so). The best time to have that glass of wine is right after you finish nursing or pumping
and at least 2 hours before your next feed or pumping session. That way your body has as much time as possible to get rid of the alcohol and less will reach your baby.
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Drinking alcoholic beverages while breastfeeding should be very limited.  An occasional glass of wine is probably alright but breastfeeding mothers should wait for two hours after drinking before nursing their baby.  Higher alcohol content beverages should be avoided.  If a breastfeeding mother drinks a significant amount of alcohol, pumping and discarding the milk for several hours would be safest for your baby.

Deborah Mulligan
Deborah Mulligan on behalf of MDLIVE
Pediatrics
There is an old wive’s tale that drinking alcohol may increase a mother’s milk supply.  Drinking alcohol may help an anxious or overstressed mother relax, but it does not improve breast milk production.  

Alcohol does get through to the baby from breast milk.  Keeping in mind each person’s metabolism is somewhat different, alcohol enters the bloodstream and the breast milk anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes after ingestion. Levels in the breast milk drop quickly.  A good rule of thumb is to avoid nursing for at least two hours after the last alcoholic beverage is consumed.  

 It is best to be very conservative in alcohol use.  In fact, it is probably wise to limit use in lactation to no more than amounts your physician recommended during your pregnancy.  

Riverside Women's Health
Administration

You should avoid drinking large quantities of alcohol if you are a breastfeeding mother. If you have an occasional drink of alcohol, you should wait for about two hours to pass before breastfeeding. Also, many babies don't like the taste of your milk after you have had alcohol and will breastfeed more once the alcohol is out of your system.

This answer is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information Center.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that women who are breastfeeding should not drink alcohol. The organization states that a single, small alcoholic drink on a special occasion is acceptable, but that women should wait at least 2 hours before breastfeeding. Alcohol is passed on to babies through breast milk and studies have linked alcohol in breast milk to the slower development of motor skills (such as crawling and walking).

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.