What to know about breastfeeding and drinking alcohol

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You have gone nine months without an alcoholic beverage and now you have a beautiful new baby.

And while you might not feel like drinking alcohol when you are breastfeeding, others might feel like they want to get back to normal and have a wine after abstaining for so long. There might be other occasions like weddings or birthday parties that you might want to attend as well.

So what’s the deal with breastfeeding and drinking alcohol. Is it safe?

We explain everything you need to know about drinking while breastfeeding below…

Baby sucks the mother's breast. Close-up.

Can you have an alcoholic drink and breastfeed?

Firstly: Yes it’s safe to enjoy a glass of alcohol whether its beer, wine or whatever you enjoy. There is actually an old wives’ tale that suggests drinking stout increases milk supply, although this is not a proven fact.

Researchers have found that alcohol does get into the breast milk, however it generally stays in there for 30-60 minutes after having the first drink.

Alcohol affects people very differently depending on your size, your metabolism, how quickly you drink, whether you have eaten and how many drinks you consume.

fine wine - tilt shift selective focus effect photo

The Australian Breastfeeding Association suggests 2 hours for the average woman to metabolise one standard drink, four hours for two drinks and six hours for three drinks etc.

It’s recommended in your baby’s first month of life to reduce alcohol intake to one to two drinks a couple of times a week, not daily. Having three or more alcoholic drinks a day can be harmful not only to the baby but your own health.

Many women falsely believe expressing and throwing away the milk will remove the alcohol from their breast milk. However, this doesn’t now work because the alcohol will still be in your blood steam.

What is the best way to enjoy a drink and breastfeed?

1. Plan ahead

breast pump close look

Express for a few days before the day/night you plan to drink alcohol.  If you have a good supply of breast milk available in advance for your baby then you can be reassured that it will not have any alcohol in it and all you will have to worry about is your ‘possible’ hangover.

2. Should you use formula?

an of powdered milk for children on wooden table

If your baby is a straight breastfed baby then no. If you plan ahead then the baby will have alcohol free milk.

But if your baby is mix fed already with formula and breast milk then adding an extra formula feed is totally fine.

Tips for breastfeeding mums

Red Wine

1. Have water in between your alcoholic drinks

Other options to help you enjoy a drink and feel part of the crowd are to have less wine in your glass and top it up with ice and soda water.

It also helps your calorie count and increases your water intake.  To keep up your breast milk supply you will need to increase your water intake 1:1. This means 1 extra glass of water per alcoholic beverage you consume.

Time is the only factor that will decrease the alcohol amount in your breast milk.

2. Try non-alcoholic alternatives

There are SO many more non-alcoholic versions in bars and restaurants nowadays. You can get mocktails, non-alcoholic wine and beer, as well as so many other types of drinks.

3. Supplement with formula

If you breastfeeding and formula feed, you can skip a few breastfeeds and supplement with formula or pre-expressed breastmilk instead. However, you might feel engorged and need to pump to stop developing mastisis.

If you end up having a big night of drinking, make sure you have a sober person to help you look after your baby and never co-sleep under the affects of alcohol.

Did you know that The Healthy Mummy smoothies are breastfeeding-friendly?

The Healthy Mummy smoothie has been created to help mums benefit from a wide range of nutrients which can also help support your healthy eating plan and exercise routine if you are trying to lose weight.

The smoothie range has been formulated by leading nutritionists, dieticians and with input from Monash University.

It offers an excellent source of essential vitamins, minerals, nutrients and important antioxidants.

It’s also free from any weight loss accelerants, caffeine, contains no wheat ingredients, no fructose, is 96 per cent sugar free and is dairy free.

You can download our information fact sheet here. You can also download the smoothie label and ingredient list here.

Buy your Healthy Mummy Smoothie HERE.

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