A: There’s much discussion around the detection of alcohol in breast milk. I also had similar concerns when I was exclusively breastfeeding and the matron of honor in my sister-in-law’s wedding. I wanted to toast the happy couple with a glass or two of champagne but didn’t want my newborn daughter to be impacted by the alcohol I consumed. Here’s what you should know:
- The idea of “pumping and dumping” is a myth, and everyone’s metabolism is different. Pumping does not remove alcohol from the breast, and time varies from woman to woman on how long it takes for the alcohol to be processed out of your system.
- If you plan to have a drink, consume it as close to the time after you breastfeed baby as you can. That will give your body a good 2-to-3 hours to start metabolizing the alcohol before the next feeding. I would also eat a good meal beforehand and drink lots of water afterward.
- There are additional precautions available for extra reassurance. Chances are you will still be at your event when it is time to breastfeed your baby. If he or she is not present, you can pump at any time and test the milk using an UpSpring milkscreen strip. This will give you clarity of mind whether or not your breast milk contains any alcohol. If alcohol is present, feed baby reserved breast milk that has been previously saved. You can then re-test to know exactly when it’s totally safe to nurse.
My answer to the question, can you drink alcohol when breastfeeding, is that if mom can resume her normal social activities while knowing she is not passing alcohol to her baby, she may choose to breastfeed longer.
—JULIE JUMONVILLE, inventor of Milkscreen and co-founder of UpSpring
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