Breastfeeding and...alcohol?

Ashley - posted on 03/02/2009 ( 16 moms have responded )

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Let me start off by making a strange confession: I had very, very few cravings while pregnant. However, I have had a TON ever since I had my daughter and have been breastfeeding exclusively! Mostly for sweets, chocolate, ice cream...well that's all mostly one category, but still. In the last two weeks, though, I've been hit hardcore with cravings for beer. I used to hate beer--I'd had maybe half a dozen beers in my life until now (definitely more of a girly-drink type of girl).
I've found myself having at least one beer a day, if I happen to have some in the fridge.

Now I know that one beer isn't going to hurt anything, but does anybody have any input on drinking and breastfeeding? I know they've got those little milk screen breastmilk strips (for if I go out and have more than that one beer...) but I've heard different accounts on what's "safe" and what's not. I work part time so I always have at least some milk in the fridge in case I feel a little buzzy and am hesitant to breastfeed, but I wonder if I'm being overly cautious sometimes.

Ladies?

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Elizabeth - posted on 03/03/2009

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I also drank when I was bfing... not to excess, but I'd have a glass or two a night. I'd usually start to feed at the same time I had a drink, so that he was getting the milk before the alcohol hit my system. That way, by the time he was ready to eat again, I would have "sobered" up. But, I think we are way to cautious about alcohol-- I also drank occasionally (and lightly) when I was pregnant. So, I'd say one to two drinks a day (depending on how heavy/tolerant you are) should be fine. Just my personal opinion!

Tricia - posted on 03/03/2009

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Your bloor alcohol level matches your milk alcohol level, so there's no need to pump and dump.  When your BAC is zero, your milk zero, too.  Also, your BAC peaks 20 to 30 minutes after finishing a drink (depending on what you've eaten) and your body metabolizes about a drink an hour.  So if you're really worried, feed the baby, have a drink, and by the time he's hungry again, your milk should be alcohol free.  :-)  Here's to Bailys and hot chocolate at the end of a long day!

Johnny - posted on 03/02/2009

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According to the breastfeeding guru, Dr. Jack Newman, avoiding alcohol is one of the myths about breastfeeding:



Myth 5. A mother should not drink alcohol while breastfeeding. Not true! Reasonable alcohol intake should not be discouraged at all. As is the case with most drugs, very little alcohol comes out in the milk. The mother can take some alcohol and continue breastfeeding as she normally does. Prohibiting alcohol is another way we make life unnecessarily restrictive for nursing mothers.



As far as I can understand one or two beers will have a negligible output in your milk and there is no need to pump & dump.  Using pumped milk might be a good idea if you've had more than a few and your test strips suggest it's too much.



 

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Brenda - posted on 03/05/2009

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I guess I'm not much of a drinker!  But since I've got a 3 year old when my second gets here, good to know what I can drink!  I might need one this time around!!!!!  :)

Cassaundra - posted on 03/05/2009

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it's true! Guiness is very very good for you and your baby when you're nursing. It has all kinds of micronutrients in it that support you nutritionally and improve the quality and the quantity of your milk. Here in Toronto, they give the Mountain Gorillas in the endangered species breeding program at our World class zoo, a can of guiness right after delivery to help bring in their milk! It also has loads of iron in it to help speed healing and nourish baby's growth.  I can't stand the taste of beer, or i'd be drinking it myself.

Ashley - posted on 03/04/2009

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I've also seen the Milkscreen strips at Babies R Us, if any of you ladies happen to have a store near you. The downside is that they run $1/strip, and if the first strip comes back that it's probably not "safe" to give baby milk (and really--it's just saying that your milk alcohol level is .01 or something ridiculously low, maybe .02) then you get to use up another strip later on to test again. Or just wing it. In which case, you probably could have winged it from the beginning.

Good indicator you shouldn't breastfeed?

You pump and your milk smells like a white russian.

Not that I would know, uh, from experience or anything.

[deleted account]

I do drink while BFing and normally am able to wait--usually around 2 hours or give a bottle of pumped milk--although she may have had a breast milk "cocktail" or two, especially over the holidays. :)



The strips are called Milkscreen and are available on Drugstore.com.

Dana - posted on 03/04/2009

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So funny! I also had very few cravings during my last pregnancy but since my daughter was born 2 weeks ago I've plowed through about 5 bags of cool ranch dorito's and a couple hundred mini snickers... :) I never wanted those things before. One of my baby's first year books also says that beer is actually good for your milk supply. However milk supple is (thankfully!) not an issue for me, only a sleepy baby and the fact that I'm pumping constantly... :)

Ashley - posted on 03/03/2009

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I also had the occasional glass of red wine when I was pregnant, especially in the last two months. I'd read in one of my baby books that they've determined that FAS only seems to occur in moms who've had more than five drinks a day for many, many days (every day!) so I wasn't too worried about it. A glass of red was probably a lot safer than the Dr. Pepper I'd started quaffing towards the end just to get through the day.

Elizabeth - posted on 03/03/2009

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Oh, and I forgot to say, if you haven't tried O'Dools (the alcohol free beer), it really is good, and I am somewhat of a beer snob. If you are craving beer, I'd check it out-- only 65 calories!

Michelle - posted on 03/03/2009

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my hubby is a winemaker, so since being together i will usually have a glass of wine each night, even through pregnancy (although, strangely when pregnant with baby girls i just can't tolerate the smell of wine, let alone the taste!). the amount of alcohol you have to drink for your baby to have fetal alcohol syndrome is pretty phenomenal...i think while you are pregnant or feeding, just be sensible...don't drink anymore than you would normally (unless you are a big drinker, i guess!). i have also heard that beer (specifically that irish guiness stuff) is good for your milk supply....just don't like the taste of it!

Sarah - posted on 03/03/2009

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My doctor actually told me that beer helps increase my milk supply, when i asked her how i could produce more milk! since then i've read that that's just an old wives tale, but who knows.  I definetley feel i'ts ok to have a few and breastfeed, timing is everything, I as well waited tell about 4months to even have a drink, just so you can time it right.  I'm intrested in these strips you guys are talking about i've never heard of them.  Can someone tell me where to purchase some.

Crystal - posted on 03/03/2009

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I don't have any stories but I have drank a glass of wine and breastfed right after. If you breastfeed right as you're drinking you also will not end up with any of the alcohol in your milk because it won't have time to process it anyways. That's what I would normally do. I don't usually drink at all for the first like 3-4 months, and then I'll start having a glass of wine with dinner or after dinner.

Ashley - posted on 03/02/2009

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Thanks Carol, I knew I'd seen that somewhere!
And blurg, I can't stand to pump and dump. I'd rather be engorged later than sit around pumping just to toss it.

Brenda - posted on 03/02/2009

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From what I've heard, you should wait four hours (someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that's right).  By then, the alcohol is processed by your liver.  So if you know you'll be drinking, you can put it between feedings or pump and dump for one feeding, using your stored breastmilk.

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