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Alcohol & Breastfeeding: Is It Safe To Drink While Breastfeeding?

Throughout pregnancy, you’ve probably missed treating yourself to a glass of wine after a long, hard day. We feel you, mama!

But if you choose to breastfeed, is it actually safe to drink alcohol? This is a question many new mums want the answer to! 

New mums will often receive a lot of conflicting advice on everything, including drinking alcohol after baby’s born.

Most health professionals do agree that drinking small amounts of alcohol while breastfeeding won’t harm your baby. However, there are varying opinions out there over the amount of alcohol that is safe for a breastfeeding mother to drink.

At Mamamade, we’re pro-choice, pro-parent and pro-sharing the best advice, from experts and sources you can trust. We’ve used the latest advice from the NHS to keep our community well-informed to make the best decisions for themselves. 

Does Alcohol Get Into My Breastmilk?

According to the NHS, anything you eat or drink while breastfeeding can find its way into your breast milk - including alcohol.

However, they make clear that the occasional drink is unlikely to cause any harm to your baby.

Experts recommend that breastfeeding mums should have no more than one or two units per week, which is a single spirit or a small glass of wine.

Should I Pump and Dump? 

There is no scientific evidence that ‘pumping and dumping’ your breastmilk will remove any alcohol from your system or speed up the process. Alcohol leaves breastmilk as it leaves the bloodstream - not as it leaves the breast.

However, if you are drinking over a period of time, you may find your breasts become uncomfortably full between feeds. If you do express milk within 3 hours of drinking alcohol to relieve any discomfort, then the level of alcohol in this breastmilk will not drop, so it’s best to get rid of this milk.

If you have a social occasion coming up where you’ll be drinking, it can be a good idea to plan ahead and express some milk before going, to avoid any discomfort. You can also feed your baby with this expressed milk when you get back!

How Long Should I Wait After Drinking Alcohol to Feed My Baby?

Alcohol levels will reach their peak in breastmilk 30 - 90 minutes after drinking.

The time you should wait after drinking alcohol before breastfeeding your baby depends on a number of factors:

  • How much you’ve been drinking
  • What and how much you’ve eaten
  • How much you weigh
  • How quickly you are drinking

As a general rule, the more you drink the longer you should wait before breastfeeding.

But, the NHS advise that you should always wait 2-3 hours per unit of alcohol before breastfeeding your baby to make sure that the alcohol level in your milk has dropped.

There is nothing you can do to speed up the process of getting alcohol out of your system - this includes drinking lots of water, coffee, or showering! All you can do is wait.

What do Mamamade say?

At Mamamade, our goal is to arm parents with the tools and information they need to make informed decisions for themselves and their babies in a safe, non-judgemental space.

We fully support parents who choose to breastfeed and bottle feed, parents who stick to feeding schedules and parents who find a more relaxed approach is what works best for them and their baby. 

We’re here to listen, to share the load, and to offer our support. For more parenting tips and advice, join our Facebook group Mamamates, where our growing community of parents share laughs, tears and words of encouragement.

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