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How is Breast Milk Produced?

Breast milk is produced by mammary glands found in the breast tissue. These mammary glands are present from birth but become fully useful for milk production only during pregnancy. Several hormones regulate the development of the mammary glands and the initiation and maintenance of lactation.

The most significant of these hormones are oxytocin and prolactin, both produced in the pituitary gland in the brain. Prolactin, together with other hormones (examples are estrogen and progesterone), regulates the final development of the mammary glands during pregnancy. After birth, the woman’s hormonal situation changes, and in this setting, prolactin can start milk secretion from the mammary glands.

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Can You Drink Alcohol While Breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding while drinking alcohol should never be done. To keep your baby healthy, staying away from alcohol during breastfeeding is best.

Alcohol levels are normally highest in breast milk 30-60 minutes after an alcoholic drink is drunk and can usually be detected in breast milk for around two to three hours per alcoholic drink is consumed.

However, the time alcoholic drinks can be seen in breast milk will increase the more alcohol a mother drinks. For instance, alcohol from one drink can be detected in breast milk for about two to three hours, alcohol from two drinks can be seen for about four to five hours, and so on.

Blood alcohol levels and the length of time alcohol can be detected in breast milk after drinking will depend on several factors, including the amount of alcohol consumed, how fast the alcohol is consumed, whether it is finished with food, how much a mother weighs, and how fast alcohol is broken down in a mother’s body.

Alcohol is not stored in the mother’s breast, so the liver metabolizes the alcohol, causing the blood alcohol level to drop in the breast milk. Lactating women should not breastfeed for several hours after drinking until their blood alcohol levels have declined again.

Drinking alcohol and breastfeeding has no benefits but only harm your child. Caring for a baby while intoxicated is not safe.
Drinking alcohol and breastfeeding has no benefits but only harm your child. Caring for a baby while intoxicated is not safe.

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Drinking Alcohol while Breastfeeding

Can I drink alcohol while breastfeeding? When you breastfeed your baby, alcohol might enter your milk and your child. Alcohol and breastfeeding how long to wait? Drinking occasionally won’t likely hurt your child, especially if you wait at least 2 hours before feeding them. Regularly exceeding the advised limits might be dangerous to you and your child.

In addition to the well-known health hazards associated with excessive alcohol consumption, drinking too much can reduce your milk production. Your baby can experience issues with sleep, development, and growth.

Things to know before breastfeeding:

  • Drinking beer does not increase the lactating mother’s milk supply, as the urban myth suggests.
  • Drinking alcohol of any kind may decrease the breast milk the baby drinks.
  • Drinking alcohol and breastfeeding can change the taste of breast milk, and some infants may not like it.
  • Drinking alcohol and breastfeeding an infant can pose a risk to the baby if he or she consumes breast milk with alcohol. 
  • Pumping or expressing milk after drinking alcohol and then discarding it (pumping and dumping) does not reduce the amount of alcohol in the milk quicker. As the alcohol blood level falls over time, the level of alcohol in the breast milk will also decrease. Breast milk continues to contain alcohol if alcohol is still in the bloodstream.
  • Current research says that occasional use of alcohol (1-2 drinks) does not appear to harm the nursing baby. Many experts recommend against drinking more than 1-2 drinks per week.
  • Excess levels of alcohol in milk may lead to drowsiness, deep sleep, weakness, and decreased growth in the infant.  Reduction of let-downs is reported when the mother drinks heavily. Drinking alcohol and breastfeeding may reduce the baby’s sucking time at the breast but not the volume of milk consumed.
  • Never share a bed or other sleeping surface with your baby if you have been drinking alcohol and breastfeeding. Drinking affects your natural reflexes, and drinking and bed-sharing are more associated with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

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Drinking Alcohol and Breastfeeding
Drinking alcohol and breastfeeding don’t mix well. There’s no level of alcohol in breast milk that’s considered safe for a baby to drink.

Effects of Drinking Alcohol While Breastfeeding

Of course, not drinking alcohol is the safest way for breastfeeding mothers. Typically, moderate alcohol consumption by a breastfeeding mother (up to one standard drink per day) is not known to be harmful to the baby, especially if the mother waits at least two hours after a single drink before breastfeeding. However, drinking alcohol above moderate levels through breast milk could damage a baby’s growth, development, and sleep patterns. Alcohol consumption above average levels may also undermine a mother’s judgment and ability to care for her child safely.

Alcohol Breastfeeding Side Effects

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Increased arousal
  • Increased crying
  • Increased startling
  • Increased rapid eye movement (REM) sleep from 3.5 to 24 hours after alcohol exposure.
  • Decreased weight gain
  • Decreased milk intake by the baby
  • Growth retardation
  • Impaired immune function
  • Delay of motor development
  • Potential impairment of cognitive development
  • Reduction in the ability for abstract reasoning at school age (6-7 years)

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Can You Drink Alcohol When Breastfeeding?

If intoxicated, you should not breastfeed until you are completely sober, when most of the alcohol will have left your body. Drinking alcohol and breastfeeding to the point of intoxication or binge drinking has been shown to impact how infants sleep. The negative impact on sleep occurs when the infants are exposed to alcohol through milk containing alcohol at the level it would be found in human milk one hour after a mother consumed a significant amount of alcohol (0.3 grams per kilogram of their body weight). Searching for “alcohol and breastfeeding 2021,” “alcohol while breastfeeding chart,” “drinking alcohol and breastfeeding chart,” and “breastfeeding and alcohol charts”? Read on to learn more.

Pump and Dump Breastfeeding Alcohol

You may have heard of women”pumping and dumping,” or pumping and throwing away their breast milk to remove the alcohol fast.

The truth about alcohol and breastfeeding is that alcohol exits your bloodstream and breast milk at the same time. Pumping and dumping will not eliminate alcohol because it is not “contained” in breast milk and returns to the bloodstream when your blood alcohol level decreases. Pumping and dumping, consuming lots of water, taking a nap, or consuming coffee will not hasten the pace at which alcohol is eliminated from your body.

Alcohol is not removed from breast milk more quickly due to this procedure. Instead, when the mother needs to express her milk, so she doesn’t use it to feed, it may be utilized to get rid of alcohol-filled milk.

Alcohol and Breastfeeding Calculator

Using an alcohol breastfeeding calculator helps you estimate your blood alcohol level, which can help determine if it is safe for you to breastfeed your baby safely. Additionally, using an alcohol and breastfeeding calculator to verify the amount of alcohol that may be present in your breastmilk or the period alcohol will remain in your system might be helpful.

When using the calculator, it will ask you to select how many drinks you have had. The following is what we are referring to when we say one drink:

  • 12 ounces of 5% Beer
  • 1.5 ounces of 40% vodka
  • 5 ounces of 13% wine

Additionally, information on your weight, how many drinks you’ve had, and how much time has elapsed since you last drank will help evaluate how safe it is for you to give breast milk. Your blood alcohol level and the amount of alcohol in your breast milk are directly correlated. So, ideally, you should be able to nurse your child after the calculator reaches zero.

Breastfeeding Alcohol Chart

As an alternative, an alcohol and breastfeeding chart explains how long a unit of alcohol takes to leave your body (note this is not necessarily the same as a single drink). Breastfeeding and drinking alcohol charts help estimate whether providing breast milk to a baby is safe.

How long does alcohol stay in your system when breastfeeding? For around 2-3 hours, alcohol from two drinks can be seen in breast milk, alcohol from three drinks can be seen for approximately 4-5 hours, and alcohol from three drinks can be seen for about 6-8 hours.

The calculator is a safer bet because the typical rule is two hours per normal drink, but this depends on your weight and how many drinks you’ve had.

Alcohol Test Strips for Breastfeeding

Are breastfeeding alcohol strips effective? The usual action for a woman who wants to drink but is concerned about giving alcohol to the infant baby is to use one of those alcohol testing strips for breastfeeding that checks the alcohol content of breast milk. But it’s difficult to establish whether the breast milk test strips are genuinely beneficial due to the paucity of studies on the product and conflicting recommendations regarding alcohol and breastfeeding. Despite claims made in advertisements, some medical professionals aren’t convinced that the most popular alcohol strips breastfeeding has the approval of pediatricians and lactation consultants.

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Remember, breastfeeding is the best way to feed a newborn and is recommended until a baby is at least age one. If you choose to drink, plan carefully to avoid exposing your baby to alcohol. Drinking alcohol and breastfeeding are not mutually exclusive. You can safely nurse your baby after the alcohol has left your breast milk.

Ask your doctor or lactation consultant if you have questions about breastfeeding and alcohol. Helping yourself or a loved one should be achieved without sacrificing comfort and safety. We level Up NJ provides is a safe and comfortable inpatient alcohol rehab program with licensed therapists and 24 hours health monitoring.  Call us now.  We have a 24/7 hotline that is ready to assist you.

Drinking Alcohol and Breastfeeding
To learn more about how to achieve a new level of recovery, call us now. We will guide you to recovery if you simultaneously struggle with drinking alcohol and breastfeeding.

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When can you drink alcohol after giving birth not breastfeeding?

There is no specified time when you can drink, but it’s a good idea to wait until after you and your baby have been checked over and you’ve tried breastfeeding for the first time. Even then, you should keep the celebration to one small glass.

Is a breastfeeding alcohol calculator better than an alcohol breastfeeding chart?

Yes, because a breastfeeding and alcohol calculator is more detailed and can be used to calculate even after you drink more than one glass of alcohol.

How to drink alcohol while breastfeeding?

To keep your baby healthy, it is best not to drink alcohol while breastfeeding, as it will negatively affect the baby’s health.

How long does alcohol stay in your system breastfeeding?

Alcohol from 1 drink can be detected in breast milk for about 2-3 hours, alcohol from 2 drinks can be seen for about 4-5 hours, and alcohol from 3 drinks can be seen for about 6-8 hours.

Is breastfeeding after drinking alcohol safe?

Breastfeeding after drinking alcohol can be dangerous because it can be transferred to the baby. It would be best to wait a few hours after drinking to let the alcohol leave your body before breastfeeding.

Is drinking alcohol after giving birth not breastfeeding safe?

It is generally safe to drink after giving birth, as long as you do not give breast milk to a baby immediately.