Can You Drink Alcohol When Breastfeeding And How Long After Drinking Is Breast Milk Affected?


YOU’VE been watching your diet and drinking habits for nine long months, but we’re afraid this doesn’t end with childbirth.

You may want to celebrate your new arrival with a glass of champagne, but there are new rules to follow if you’re breastfeeding.

Getty – Contributor Breastfeeding mums should drink no more than two units of alcohol, twice-a-week

Can you drink alcohol when breastfeeding?

Good news mums, you can drink alcohol when breastfeeding – but only in moderation.

The NHS advise that mums have no more than two units of alcohol, twice-a-week.

To put that into context, one unit equates to a 25ml shot, half a pint of beer, or a 125ml glass of wine.

Which means one double spirit measure, a pint or a large (250ml) glass of wine is your limit for the day.

Alamy If you’ve had more than two units, you need to allow time for the alcohol to leave your system before breastfeeding

Regularly drinking more than two units per day can affect your baby’s development, according to some studies, meaning it’s just not worth the risk.

And boozing parents should make sure there’s a sober adult on-hand to care for young kids.

Never share a bed or a sofa with your baby if you’ve had a drink, as this can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

How long does the alcohol affect your breast milk for?

If you do decide to indulge, it’s important to leave enough time for the alcohol to leave your system – before attempting to breastfeed your baby.

It normally takes about one hour for one unit of alcohol to leave your system – but the NHS advise leaving two to three hours per unit if breastfeeding.

Mums can prepare for this by using a breast pump to express some milk – which can be stored and fed to your tot while the alcohol is leaving your system.

Getty – Contributor Drinking while breastfeeding could impact your baby’s development

How does alcohol in milk affect a baby?

According to the Baby Center, if you drink and then breastfeed in a short amount of time alcohol will be passed on to your baby.

Your blood alcohol content will be highest in the 30 to 90 minutes after having a drink.

If your baby ends up ingesting alcohol, studies suggest it can affect their eating and sleeping.

The website states: “During the four hours after a breastfeeding mother consumes an alcoholic beverage such as 4 ounces of wine, one mixed drink, or one can of beer – babies who nurse consume about 20 percent less milk.”

And it’s been reported that while babies who breastfeed soon after the mum has drank fall asleep quicker, they sleep for shorter amounts of time.

As well potential to disrupt their eating and sleeping cycles, it’s also important to note their liver is not yet mature.

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