Alcohol and breastfeeding: what you should know
Here are some things you should know about breastfeeding and alcohol consumption.
1. Alcohol gets into your breastmilk from your blood. It takes about 30-60 minutes for the alcohol to reach your breastmilk.
2. The alcohol level in your breastmilk is the same as in your blood. So if your blood alcohol level is 0.05 then so is your breastmilk alcohol level. Many factors contribute to your blood/breastmilk alcohol level, including your size, how much you've eaten and how quickly you are drinking.
3. It takes about two hours for the average woman's body to metabolise a standard drink, depending again on your size etc. So your breastmilk should be alcohol-free approximately two hours after you've drunk a standard drink. If you've had two standard drinks it will be four hours before your milk is alcohol-free etc.
4. There is no need to 'pump and dump' milk after you have a drink. The alcohol will leave the breastmilk in time, you just have to wait.
5. A baby less than a month old will have trouble metabolising any amount of alcohol in your milk. Also they may have an irregular and frequent feeding pattern which means it will be hard for you to predict when the next feed will be. Once a baby is older and in an established routine you may be able to have a drink knowing that the next feed will not be for a few hours, by which time your milk will be alcohol-free
6. If you're planning on having a big night of drinking you should express some milk in advance to bottle feed your baby. If you miss a feed and your breast become engorged while you're still affected by alcohol you should express and throw out that milk. Once milk is expressed the alcohol will remain in it.
7. The 'safest option is NOT to drink alcohol' according to the Australian Government's guidelines for alcohol consumption while breastfeeding. They also recommend you avoid drinking alcohol in your baby's first month and then after that limit your drinking to just two standard drinks a day (but not every day).
8. Breastmilk with a small amount of alcohol in it is still better for your baby than no milk. So if your baby is hungry and you've had a small amount of alcohol, but you're not sure if it has left your body yet, you should still feed your baby.
Information supplied is from the Australian Government's New Guidelines for Alcohol Consumption and the Australian Breastfeeding Association.