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    The Dos and Don'ts of Drinking Alcohol During Breastfeeding

    Breastfeeding & Lactation

    The Dos and Don'ts of Drinking Alcohol During Breastfeeding

    Updated on 6 March 2024

    As you navigate the wonderful world of motherhood, you may have questions about how alcohol fits into your breastfeeding journey. It's natural to wonder about enjoying a glass of wine or a cocktail while ensuring the best for your little one. In this article, we'll delve into the dos and don'ts of drinking alcohol during breastfeeding, providing you with the knowledge to make informed choices without compromising your baby's well-being.

    Can a breastfeeding mother take alcohol?

    Breastfeeding mothers often wonder can I drink alcohol while breastfeeding. Alcohol has the potential to pass into breast milk, which means it can be ingested by the baby. However, the amount of alcohol that reaches the baby is typically low and depends on several factors such as the amount of alcohol consumed, the time elapsed since consumption, and the mother's metabolism. It's important to note that excessive alcohol consumption can have negative effects on both the mother and her baby.

    What's the relation between alcohol and breastfeeding?

    When a breastfeeding mother consumes alcohol, it enters her bloodstream and is eventually metabolized by the liver. As alcohol is a toxin, the body prioritizes its elimination. The alcohol present in the breast milk can affect the baby's sleep patterns, motor skills, and overall development. It can also impair the let-down reflex, reducing milk production.

    Another concern is the potential impact of alcohol on the baby's brain development. Studies have shown that excessive alcohol intake during breastfeeding can contribute to long-term cognitive and behavioral issues in children. Therefore, it is crucial for breastfeeding mothers to exercise caution when consuming alcohol.

    What about wine during breastfeeding?

    Wine is a popular choice for many people when it comes to alcoholic beverages. Breastfeeding mothers may wonder if it is safe to enjoy a glass of wine while nursing. The answer is yes, but moderation is key. It is generally recommended to wait for at least two hours after consuming a glass of wine before breastfeeding.

    The amount of alcohol in breast milk peaks around 30-60 minutes after consumption and then gradually decreases. By waiting a few hours, the alcohol concentration in breast milk will decrease further, reducing the potential risks to the baby. Additionally, it is advisable to limit wine consumption to one glass and ensure that it is a low-alcohol variety.

    Can I drink beer while breastfeeding?

    Beer is another popular choice for many individuals, and breastfeeding mothers may wonder if they can enjoy a beer without harming their baby. Like wine, it is generally safe to drink beer in moderation while breastfeeding. However, it is important to be mindful of the alcohol content and the quantity consumed.

    The general guideline is to limit beer consumption to one standard drink, which is equivalent to 12 ounces or approximately 355 milliliters. Additionally, it is advisable to wait for a couple of hours after consuming beer before breastfeeding. This allows the body to metabolize the alcohol, reducing the concentration in breast milk.

    Risks of alcohol during breastfeeding

    Before you reach for that glass of wine or mug of beer, it’s important to understand the risks of drinking alcohol while breastfeeding:

    1. Reduced milk production

    Alcohol can interfere with the hormones that regulate milk production, leading to a decrease in milk supply.

    2. Altered taste and smell of breast milk

    Babies may refuse to nurse or show a decreased interest in breast milk if it has a different taste or smell due to alcohol consumption.

    3. Disrupted sleep patterns

    Alcohol can affect the baby's sleep, making them more restless or wakeful during the night.

    4. Impaired motor development

    Excessive alcohol consumption during breastfeeding can affect the baby's motor skills and coordination.

    5. Long-term cognitive and behavioral issues

    Studies have shown a correlation between excessive alcohol intake during breastfeeding and long-term cognitive and behavioral problems in children.

    You may also like: Green Tea During Breastfeeding: Do's and Don'ts for New Mothers

    Precautions to follow if you decide to drink alcohol while breastfeeding

    If you just can’t resist drinking and have made up your mind to enjoy some alcohol, then please do follow these precautions for the wellbeing of you and your baby:

    1. Plan ahead

    If you know you will be consuming alcohol, consider pumping and storing breast milk beforehand. This way, you can feed your baby with the stored milk while the alcohol is being metabolized.

    2. Time your drinks

    Allow a sufficient amount of time for your body to metabolize the alcohol before breastfeeding. Waiting at least two hours after consuming a standard drink is generally recommended.

    3. Monitor your baby's reaction

    Pay attention to how your baby responds to breast milk after you have consumed alcohol. If you notice any unusual behavior or changes in appetite, it may be best to abstain from alcohol until you consult with a healthcare professional.

    4. Limit your intake

    Stick to moderate alcohol consumption. It is generally recommended to limit yourself to one standard drink if you choose to drink while breastfeeding.

    5. Stay hydrated

    Drinking alcohol can lead to dehydration, which can affect milk production. Ensure that you drink plenty of water or other hydrating fluids to maintain adequate milk supply.

    You may also like : 17 Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding The Ultimate Guide for New Moms

    Alternatives to alcohol for breastfeeding mothers

    If you prefer to avoid alcohol altogether while breastfeeding, there are plenty of alternatives to consider. Non-alcoholic beer and wine options are available, which offer the taste and experience without the alcohol content. Mocktails, which are alcohol-free cocktails, can also be a fun and refreshing choice.

    You can also explore the world of flavorful herbal teas. There are numerous options that are safe and enjoyable during breastfeeding. Chamomile, peppermint, and ginger teas are popular choices that offer a range of benefits and flavors.

    You may also like: Diet Chart for Breastfeeding Mothers: The Ultimate Guide to Optimising Your & Your Baby's Nutrition

    The Bottomline

    Mothers can enjoy alcohol during breastfeeding but in moderation. It is important to exercise caution and follow the recommended guidelines. The key is to plan ahead, time your drinks appropriately, and be mindful of the potential risks to your baby. Remember, the health and well-being of both you and your baby are of utmost importance. By making informed choices and taking necessary precautions, you can navigate the balance between breastfeeding and enjoying an occasional drink. Cheers to responsible and mindful parenting!


    1. Haastrup MB, Pottegård A, Damkier P. (2014). Alcohol and breastfeeding. Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol.

    2. Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed®) [Internet]. (2006). Bethesda (MD): National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

    3. Mennella J. Alcohol's effect on lactation. (2001). Alcohol Res Health.

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    Written by

    Anupama Chadha

    Anupama Chadha, born and raised in Delhi is a content writer who has written extensively for industries such as HR, Healthcare, Finance, Retail and Tech.

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