Alcohol and breast milk



How long do I have to wait to breastfeed after drinking alcohol?


Great question . . .I am sure this is on the minds of many nursing moms. While most doctors recommend eliminating alcohol almost completely during pregnancy, there is really no reason why a nursing mom can not have a beer or wine every now and then.  And, how long a nursing mom needs to wait to breastfeed after drinking alcohol depends on the amount of alcohol consumed. 

A small percentage of the total amount of alcohol that you consume does enter the breastmilk.  The amount of alcohol that makes it into the breastmilk will peak about 30 to 60 minutes after consumption, or up to 90 minutes if taken with food.  Fortunately, alcohol is removed from the breastmilk at the same rate is is eliminated from the body.  It takes a 120 pound woman about three hours to eliminate from her body the alcohol in one serving of beer or wine (the length of time to eliminate a high alcohol content drink is longer).  Of course, the more alcohol that is consumed, the longer it takes for it to be eliminated from the body.

So, if you have one glass of wine with dinner, you can feed your baby again approximately three hours later and rest assured that your baby will not be receiving any alcohol in the breastmilk.  If you plan to drink more than one glass, best to plan ahead and be sure that you have some expressed breastmilk on hand to feed your baby while you are waiting for the alcohol to clear from your breastmilk. If your breasts become uncomfortably full while you are waiting for the alcohol to clear, go ahead and pump and discard the milk that you express. 

Again, there is no reason to not enjoy a drink now and again, just remember moderation is important and be sure to have an alternate feeding plan in the event that you drink more than you plan!