Breastfeeding & Alcohol: Can It Ever Be Done Safely? By Michaela

With millions of mothers around the world breastfeeding at any given time, it’s natural to have some questions surrounding breastfeeding, alcohol consumption, and what the rules are surrounding breastfeeding and alcohol consumption.

It can be confusing and stressful to think about the possible implications that come with drinking while breastfeeding. In this post, we are going to address each of them and give you the information that you need to make an informed decision.

Additionally, we will give you some information on what to do if you are currently going through alcohol dependency and the consequences that it can have on your life.

Can Breastfeeding and Alcohol Co-Exist?

It is generally not recommended for a nursing mother to drink alcohol. While many experts agree that an occasional drink is acceptable, most suggest avoiding it as much as possible. Some studies have shown that even small amounts of alcohol can pass through breast milk and enter the baby’s system. The amount of alcohol in the milk can be equivalent to a mother having two drinks. 

The effects of drinking alcohol while breastfeeding are different for every woman and baby, but there are some general guidelines to consider when making the decision. Since the amount of time it takes for alcohol to leave the body varies from person to person, it is important to wait at least 2-3 hours after drinking before breastfeeding. This will help ensure that any remaining traces of alcohol have been eliminated from the milk before feeding your baby. Additionally, if you are planning to drink and breastfeed, you should avoid binge drinking or consuming more than one or two drinks overall. 

Guidelines to Follow for Drinking Alcohol While Breastfeeding

If you are going to enjoy an alcoholic drink from time to time while breastfeeding, there are some guidelines that you should follow. Here are the steps to follow to ensure that you can safely breastfeed after drinking.

Wait 2-3 Hours

The first and most important step is to wait at least 2-3 hours after drinking before breastfeeding. You want to wait until the alcohol consumed is clear from your system and poses no danger to your milk supply. This will help ensure that any remaining alcohol has been eliminated from the milk before you feed your baby.

Drink in Moderation (Avoid Binge Drinking)

Binge drinking or consuming alcohol in more than one or two drinks should be avoided when breastfeeding. If you do decide to have a drink of an alcoholic beverage, it is recommended that you stick to one or two drinks and take at least 2-3 hours in between each one.

Eat Before Drinking

It is important to eat before drinking as food can help slow down the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream. Eating a balanced meal with plenty of protein and healthy fats can also help you to feel more satiated and less likely to drink in excess.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water before, during, and after drinking can help flush out any remaining traces of alcohol from your body. Staying hydrated can also help you to avoid dehydration caused by the diuretic effects of alcohol.

Pump & Dump If You’ve Recently Consumed Alcohol

If you have consumed alcohol recently and still need to feed your baby, it is recommended that you pump and dump the milk. Pumping and dumping can help reduce the number of trace amounts of alcohol in the milk before feeding your baby.

Health Risks of Drinking While Breastfeeding

If you don’t decide to follow these guidelines for drinking when you are breastfeeding, there are some health risks that you should be aware of. These can threaten your child with difficult conditions, disorders, and health issues.

Alcohol Dependence

Alcohol dependence, also known as alcoholism, is a serious health risk associated with drinking while breastfeeding. This is because alcohol passes through the breast milk and can be absorbed by the baby.

Prolonged and frequent exposure to alcohol can lead to dependence on it and can even cause withdrawal symptoms in infants. Alcohol exposure in babies can lead to physical and mental development delays, poor motor skills, behavioral problems, poor appetite, and sleep difficulty.

In addition, alcohol-exposed babies may be more prone to infections due to their immature immune systems. Alcoholism during pregnancy has been linked to shorter gestation periods and lower birth weight which can have long-term consequences for the health and development of the baby.

Worsened Motor Development

Excessive alcohol consumption while breastfeeding can cause decreased motor development in babies. This means that the baby may have trouble with coordination, balance, and gross motor skills such as walking or crawling.

In addition to this, babies who are exposed to alcohol from breast milk may be at higher risk for accidents due to their decreased coordination and balance or SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) due to the alcohol intake of their mother. This can lead to falls, bumps, bruises, cuts, and other physical injuries.

Babies consuming human milk are not meant to consume alcohol, and milk production that is affected by an alcoholic drink consumed recently can have drastic effects.

Missed Developmental Milestones

Exposure to alcohol while breastfeeding can also lead to missed developmental milestones. Babies exposed to alcohol may take longer to reach certain milestones, such as talking, crawling, and walking.

This can have long-term consequences on the child’s development and can even lead to learning disabilities in some cases.

Alcohol Dependency Could Cause Harm

If you are having trouble not drinking, despite the fact that you are breastfeeding and aware of the health risks that come along with drinking while breastfeeding, then it is possible that you have developed alcohol dependence.

If you’ve found this to be the case, you have some options. The Alcohol Coach offers several coaching programs to help you overcome your alcohol dependence and resume feeding your baby safely.

Let’s Recap

It’s important to remember that drinking while breastfeeding is not recommended. It is possible to safely drink while breastfeeding as long as certain precautions are taken.

You should always eat before drinking, stay hydrated and pump & dump if you’ve recently consumed alcohol. There are also some health risks associated with drinking while breastfeeding such as alcohol dependence, worsened motor development, and missed developmental milestones.

If you’re having trouble with alcohol dependence, there are programs available to help you overcome it and return to breastfeeding safely. The key is to always make sure that your baby’s safety comes first when making decisions about drinking while breastfeeding.


Hi, I'm Michela

I’m a leader in the science of transformational freedom for women, and someone previously addicted to alcohol. I have walked the path. I understand your concerns and fears. Here you will find some of my thoughts and insights. Happy browsing!

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