Drinking While Breastfeeding

Whisky glass and bottle containing alcoholic drink

Whether you’re currently pregnant or are breastfeeding you might have some questions around the safety of drinking alcohol while growing and feeding your little one. If you are planning on enjoying a glass of alcohol, make sure you know the facts.

Can you Drink Alcohol While Breastfeeding?

The Department of Health recommend that breastfeeding mothers should have no more than one or two units of alcohol per week. One unit of alcohol is approximately a single (25ml) measure of spirits, half a pint of beer, or 125ml (small) glass of wine, although this depends on the strength of the drink. See the NHS website for more information on units and their recommendations. If you do intend to have a social drink, you could try avoiding breastfeeding for 2 to 3 hours for every drink you have to avoid exposing your baby to any alcohol in your milk.

At Lansinoh we would always recommend if you intend to have an alcoholic drink on a special occasion, expressing breastmilk in advance is a good idea followed by missing the first breastfeed after the function and feeding your baby expressed milk instead.

You need to ensure your breastfeeding is established before you try this. You also need to consider your breasts may become full if you leave long gaps between feeds. Therefore having a breast pump in your bag will help to relieve the pressure by expressing. The Lansinoh Compact Single Electric Breast Pump is perfectly sized to slip into your bag and can be powered by a USB power bank to make sure you are only carrying the essentials. You can also pump directly into our breastmilk storage bags making the size of the equipment even smaller.

Another tip would be that mothers who do want a drink could have one unit of alcohol with a meal shortly after a feed, so there is time to process the alcohol before baby needs to feed again.

If you have been drinking alcohol, never share a bed or sofa with your baby as this has a strong association with sudden infant death syndrome and always drink plenty of water.

Drinking and Breastfeeding Risks

Alcohol consumed occasionally in low amounts is unlikely to harm your baby. If you’re a binge drinker, alcohol makes you less aware of your baby’s needs, impairing your judgement and reaction time. If you have had lots to drink, make sure there is a sober adult to care for your baby. Consulting your doctor may help you find a solution.

Can Alcohol Effect Your Breastmilk?

The simple answer is yes! The amount of alcohol found in the breastmilk will depend on the amount of alcohol consumed, how fast it was consumed, was it consumed with food, the weight of the mother and how fast the alcohol was broken down in the body.

Breastmilk will contain the highest levels of alcohol 30-90 minutes after having an alcoholic drink. One drink can have a lasting impact for 2-3 hours, and this will keep increasing the more drinks you have.

The Effect of Alcohol on a Newborn

Although low or moderate alcohol consumption does not have a harmful impact on the newborn, high level of consumption can affect the milk ejection reflex. While excessive alcohol consumption can decrease milk production, leading to shorter breastfeeding duration and affect the baby’s sleep patterns and early development. It can also specifically affect the liver of a new-born baby as it takes up to two years after birth for the liver to fully develop. To avoid any impact on supply and your newborn’s health, you may want to make sure breastfeeding is well established before you start to have an alcoholic drink. This will usually be when your baby is 6-8 weeks old.

 

Check out Lansinoh’s Education & Support centre for expert advice on all breastfeeding related issues, from breastfeeding diet to maternal mental health.  Don’t forget to also browse through Lansinoh products – we stock a range of products that make mums lives easier.

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