Time to pop that bottle of champagne (or whatever’s your preference) because you just birthed a baby into this world! You braved through nine(ish) months of pregnancy. Now, you’re adjusting to the mom-life. Nine plus months without touching a drop of alcohol. But, now the baby’s out, and you’re wondering if it’s safe to take a little sip of the bubbly.
One search up on the internet can have you a bit confused… Some say that it’s alright, others say not, or the ever so popular just “pump and dump”. There seems to be no clear advice on what breastfeeding moms should do. This is completely understandable as it really hasn’t been the focus of much long-term research.
A simple explanation on why drinking while lactating is discouraged is that the mother’s alcohol content in the bloodstream can be passed on to the baby through the breastmilk as cautioned by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). They also mention that drinking too much or consuming alcohol regularly can decrease your milk supply. The flavor of your breast milk might also change due to the alcohol and can be distasteful for your newborn.
The AAP, however, gives an okay to moms who’d desire that quick sip. They advise that occasional alcohol consumption is perfectly safe if you’re breastfeeding, but heavy drinking will harm your little one’s health. If you want that drink, AAP suggests you wait four hours before you breastfeed again to make sure there’s no more alcohol in your system. WE suggest the best time to enjoy that drink is right after you finish feeding or pumping because the alcohol will have enough time to leave your system before you breastfeed again.
From our research, Motherly mentions that famous parenting publications like Parents say to limit one or two drinks a week, and The Bump suggests one or two drinks a day.
Bottom line, your breast milk is safe for your baby to drink even when you’ve sipped your favorite alcoholic drink (just don’t overdo it).
But what’s this about “pump and dump”?
It’s very much related to the term. It’s when you pump your breastmilk right after drinking when you feel a bit tipsy and, instead of storing it, dump it down the drain. It’s usually done by breastfeeding women when they’ve had a drink or two. Still, it has been mentioned that pumping and dumping does nothing to get the alcohol out of your system because it will naturally leave your bloodstream and milk supply. But, there may be cases where pumping and dumping is helpful.
Reasons or occasions where you need to “pump and dump”
Alcohol naturally leaves your system, so pumping and dumping won’t help get rid of it. However, there are cases where it’s helpful to do this like:
Avoiding engorgement. When you’ve consumed alcohol, and it hasn’t left your system when your breasts have become full, dispose of the milk that’s been laced with alcohol and relieve your breasts from the discomfort.
When you’re away without the baby. There might be occasions where you’re away for a business trip or a getaway weekend without your baby. When drinking is involved somewhere in the itinerary, there might be too much alcohol in your milk supply. It’s best to avoid feeding your baby that milk. Or when it’s a challenge to pump and safely store your breast milk until you get back home, so to avoid the engorgement, you’ll be feeling, pumping and dumping might be best.
If it’s been more than four hours since your last drink and you’re about to breastfeed again or do another pumping session, but you’re wary if there’s still a bit of alcohol in your milk supply, you can use a test strip to confirm it has left your system. Like the 24-Count of Papablic Test & Safe Breastmilk Alcohol Test Strips, it’s said to be accurate and produces results in 2 minutes. Plus, it’s so easy to use. You only need to dip the strip in your breast milk and match the color of the test strip result to the color chart provided, then get the estimated time it would take to wait for the alcohol to leave your breast milk supply.
Don’t pour out that liquid gold, mommy. You can still enjoy your wine, beer, margarita, or whatever, but remember to drink moderately for your health and your baby’s health too.