The holidays are upon us, which means gatherings and celebrations are happening left to right.
For moms who breastfeed, the struggle is in enjoying the festivities by indulging in an alcoholic drink, or conforming to what many think makes a “responsible mother” by fighting the urge and settling for a bottle of water.
Let’s lay it to rest:
It’s OK for breastfeeding moms to indulge in a glass or wine, bottle of beer or mixed beverage of their choice. What’s more- they don’t have to pump and dump when they do.
In the past, society told moms that they had to pump and dump right after their bottle of beer or glass of wine for the sake and well being of the baby. The world seemed concerned about alcohol’s effect on baby’s cognitive and physical development. Today’s research has shown that the alcohol passed from mom to baby (when mom has consumed a moderate amount) is negligent. The concentration of alcohol passed on to baby is so small that there is no proven harmful side effect when breastfeeding. However, alcohol consumption for pregnant moms is still a no-no.
Here are some facts:
- Alcohol in mom’s blood system is at the same level as is in mom’s breast milk.
- It takes about 2 hours for alcohol to metabolize in the average person.
- Alcohol levels in blood are highest between 30 mins and 60 mins after alcohol consumption of one drink (one glass of wine, one bottle of beer or one mixed drink with a 2oz shot of liquor).
- Metabolism and peak levels of alcohol vary by person, depending on weight, height and food consumption. The more recent the food intake, the longer it takes alcohol to get into the system, peaking between 60 mins and 90 mins after one drink.
Many lactation experts, like Dr. Jack Newman, support moms who decide to celebrate the holidays (or any day). Moms who have an alcoholic beverage, can then breastfeed afterward. “This over-cautiousness with regard to alcohol reflects the emergence of neo-puritanical attitudes,” Dr. Newman said in a recent Facebook post about the “pump and dump” belief.
A Short Guideline to Breastfeeding and consuming Alcohol:
You can breastfeed after having ONE drink. (The equivalent to drinking a glass of wine, bottle of beer or mixed drink with a 2oz shot of liquor)
If you’re concerned about your alcohol intake, you can wait 2 hours after ONE drink. This allows time for the alcohol to metabolize out of your system to breastfeed with confidence.
If you feel a “buzz” or feel obviously intoxicated, DO NOT breastfeed or care for a child while in this state. Wait until your system has cleared the alcohol and you regain 100% control of your actions. (You can determine this by setting 2 hours for every 1 drink consumed. If you consumed 2 drinks, wait 3-4 hours.)
In sum, as long as you don’t feel a buzz, you can breastfeed- no need to pump and dump!
Want more fancy numbers and scientific proof? Here is what Dr. Newman has to say:
“Let’s look at this a little more closely. Whisky is 40% alcohol, beer 3% to 5%, wine 10% to 13% alcohol. Even de-alcoholized beer contains approximately 0.6% alcohol. Depending on the jurisdiction, you are considered too drunk to drive with more than 0.05% to 0.08% alcohol in your blood. Alcohol behaves differently from other drugs. The concentration of the alcohol in blood and in your milk is about the same. So, if the mother has 0.06% alcohol in her blood, she will have 0.06% alcohol in her milk, one tenth the concentration in de-alcoholized beer! This is not a concentration of alcohol that is going to make your baby sick or cause brain damage (as some have suggested).”
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