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When can I Breastfeed after Drinking Alcohol

When can I Breastfeed after Drinking Alcohol

by: Dr. Minakshi Saxena
Chief Coordinator - Mother & Child

How long after an alcoholic drink can I breast feed my baby? 

You should wait at least for 2 hours before you nurse your baby. It takes 30-90 minutes for alcohol levels to peak in your blood and there are differences in clearance from person to person. Alcohol from the bloodstream makes its way to the mother’s milk. The baby has an immature liver and is able to clear alcohol at half the rate compared to adults.  Although it is advised that you avoid drinking regularly till the baby is at least 3 months old but if you wish to have an occasional drink, these are some of the ways that you could.

What to do if you are drinking during lactation- post pregnancy?

  • You could express the milk using a breast pump in a bottle before having alcohol and feed the baby this expressed milk.
  • You could have alcohol in times when the baby normally has longer stretches of sleep e.g. in the night. However, they sometimes surprise you by not following that pattern on the day you have alcohol.
  • You could give them formula feed ( though I’m sure your pediatrician will be very annoyed with me for this advice)
  • You could also have your occasional drink immediately after the baby takes a feed so that he/ she doesn’t need it for the next 2-3 hours.
  • Make sure you also have enough water so that you are not dehydrated with your drink and so that the level of alcohol in your drink gets diluted in the blood.It also helps to eat beforehand for the same reason as above.
  • Limit yourself to only one drink occasionally in 24 hours.

Alcohol drinking and baby care:

It is not a great idea to become intoxicated as taking care of your baby will also be a problem.

Don’t nurse your baby if you’re intoxicated till you become sober. And if the need arises and breasts feel engorged just pump and dump (throw away the milk when you are drunk). Studies show that drinking alcohol affects the baby’s sleeping and feeding. Though babies whose mothers have had alcohol become drowsy and sleep earlier, they wake up earlier too. If babies are fed within 4 hours after taking alcohol there is a reduction in breast milk by about 20 percent too owing to dehydration.

So at the end of the day, it’s your choice. Doctors suggest abstaining for at least 3 months after childbirth but if you must at least wait for 2 hours after that drink to feed your baby.

And remember it’s always better to have a glass of wine, some beer or liquor with a lesser alcohol content than the really hardest of hard drinks.

Also, it would go a long way to follow some of the tips and tricks mentioned above for the safety of your little angel!

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