Can you drink al­co­hol while still nurs­ing?

Mother & Baby - - CONTENTS -

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).

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