Can you drink alcohol while still nursing?
Breastfeeding carries a whole gamut of burdens. From myths to taboos, and physical limitations to mental ones, there are a whole lot of hurdles to cross. It may not be an easy path. Let our in-house expert be your guide...
Most women opt for a healthier lifestyle once they conceive. And among other things, they also realise that alcoholic beverages are not recommended during pregnancy. However, when for a breastfeeding mum, recommendation become vague and ambiguous. If you go by the recommendation during pregnancy, the safest option when breastfeeding is also to avoid drinking alcohol altogether. The reason for ambiguity is that research has been inconclusive on the effects of alcohol on a breastfeeding. However, breastfeeding isn’t a short-term life event like pregnancy. Besides, birth and nursing become a part of a mother’s life and lifestyle for a prolonged period of time. It is important to to be safe, and yet allow for mothers to not feel restricted in their choice to breastfeed while being able to lead a healthy social life. Here are a few pointers: The most important thing is the age of the baby. The exclusive breastfeeding period is the most vulnerable for a newborn. During early infancy, a baby has a open gut, which means the pores in the intestinal wall will allow large molecules to pass directly in through the wall and into the bloodstream. The baby’s immature liver will also be under more strain. Yet, a far occasional drink does not seem to show any major effect on a young baby. This may be slightly different for an older baby or a nonexclusively breastfeeding baby. Since alcohol passes into a mother’s bloodstream and into her breastmilk, and the alcohol levels in breastmilk remain close to the alcohol levels in her blood. It makes good practice to follow a safe feeding routine such as feeding the baby right before drinking or right after drinking, and then avoid feeding approximately for the next three hours for a standard drink. Its takes that long for the alcohol to leave the system. It also seems standard to always dilute the drink, and sip slowly. This will limit the alcohol intake. It is also a good idea to eat while drinking, as the food will helps in decreasing the rate of absorption of alcohol. It is worthwhile to plan ahead of time for the social event, and store up expressed breast milk to feed the baby for. The most prevalent advice is to express breastmilk and throw it away while drinking alcoholic beverages. This does not follow any evidence of stagnation of alcohol in mother’s milk. The alcohol enters and leaves the mother’s milk continuously over a time period of two to three hours for one standard drink. If the baby shows irritability or sleep disturbance, it may be important to consider all factors carefully. It is a good indicator to know if it feels safe to drive, it will be safe to breastfeed. .
Effath Yasmin is India’s leading International Board Certified lactation Consultant (IBCLC), Biodynamic CranioSacral Therapist, internationally certified lactation educator and the founder director of Nourish & Nurture Lactation Care & Parenting Education, an outreach clinic for mothers and families seeking professional clinical lactation management and parenting counselling. Yasmin sits on the board of directors and National Advisory Board of Birth India, an NGO striving for safe and supported birth in India and an active governing council member of the International Association of Tongue-Tie professionals (IATP).