Alcohol and Breastfeeding – How Bad Is It?

The Disclaimer

Alcohol and breastfeeding is not a common topic in meetings or anywhere else that I know of.  Alcohol and breastfeeding is important to a very specific group of people and it is really only important to them when they are breastfeeding. I was able to dig up the following on alcohol and breastfeeding.  Without the help of the article below and some research I would not know anything about alcohol and breastfeeding (except for having an unclear notion that it is wrong).

The Warning

breastfeedingExaminer 2009 article
A North Dakota woman arrested and charged with child neglect after breastfeeding her 6-week old baby while intoxicated has been sentenced. The woman received a 12-month sentence with 6 months served now having to serve 6 months either reporting to the jail or entering a rehabilitation clinic. This case has spurred a great deal of discussion on breastfeeding infants and alcohol consumption.
The La Leche league indicates that for a 120-pound woman it takes about 2 to 3 hours for alcohol to leave the system based on one serving of beer or wine. It takes about 13 hours for a cocktail with hard liquor drink to leave the same size woman’s system.
There are a lot of cross opinions on the matter of alcohol and breastfeeding a baby.  Making the issue a hot topic to be discussed all over the country after this high profiled case. Is it a crime to breastfeed the infant while intoxicated? The judge in this case felt it was a punishable crime.
The clear solution to enjoying a glass of wine or a beer in a social situation would be to pump the breast milk prior to the evening and have a supply of fresh safe milk for the baby. This alleviates any questions or concerns about alcohol getting to the infant through breast milk. Milk could be expressed from the breast and thrown away following alcohol consumption if there is enough safe milk available for the baby from pumping earlier.
Purchasing plenty of milk storage bags and a manual pump can make breastfeeding convenient for mothers that need to pump their milk for later use.
Keeping the baby healthy and safe is a mothers main concern and knowing that alcohol can harm the infant is a reason to create alternative ways to feed the baby breast milk yet be able to have a social drink with a spouse or friends from time to time. Mothers that prefer to drink more frequently or think they may have an addiction should contact their physician for treatment options and advice on finding help for their addiction.
A lot of things can affect breast milk for babies and a mother needs to be educated on what is good or not good for an infant. Even some foods can cause gas and digestive distress on an infant that is breast-feeding. The number one concern should always the health and safety of the baby.
Examiner 2009 article

The Mechanics

breastfeeding correct latch on

Countless research studies have been carried out on pregnant women that drink, and it has been effectively proven that alcoholic drink is very detrimental to the unborn infant. Having said that, the risks connected with ingesting alcohol and breastfeeding a child are not so well understood or defined. So, precisely what ought a breastfeeding mother be advised of every time she ingests alcohol?
A newborn infant has an immature liver and consequently even minor volumes of  alcohol might be a burden on the infant’s organs. Up until roughly 3 months of age, babies metabolize alcohol at about half the rate of a grown-up. A  little older infant or toddler can metabolize the alcohol a little more rapidly. Consequently, throughout the beginning 3 months of life, alcoholic drink should be avoided if possible. If you do drink alcohol during this time, you should drink in moderation. Heavy drinkers or alcohol dependent women who breastfeed should steer clear of consuming alcohol until their infants are done suckling. For individuals who cannot discontinue drinking entirely throughout this time period, it’s still counseled to continue nursing, rather than converting to baby formula, as the infant is bestowed with a great deal of protection by the antibodies in its mother’s breast milk – mother’s milk is unbelievably beneficial in combating microbe infections.

When your boy or girl is older than 3 months, drinking alcohol is not really a concern assuming that it is practiced in moderation. But precisely what is moderate drinking for a breastfeeding woman? Present-day research declares that very limited use of alcohol (1-2 cocktails) is not really injurious to the suckling newborn. Put simply, if you’re sober enough to operate a vehicle, you’re sober enough to breastfeed. Less than 2% of the alcohol consumed by the mom actually gets to her blood and milk.
Yet another factor to bear in mind is exactly how long alcohol will remain in your breast milk. Alcohol does not stay in breast milk – it returns to the circulatory system as mom’s blood alcohol level decreases. Consequently, using a pump and disposing of breast milk will never get rid of the alcohol present, or speed the process of eliminating alcohol from breast milk. The only reason a woman should pump and dispose of would be for her own ease and comfort, while she is waiting for the alcohol in her breast milk to be metabolized.

Moms should refrain from breastfeeding up until the time they are completely alcohol free. Ideally, a mother should plan ahead. If she understands that she is likely to consume more than 1 to 2 units of alcohol, she is recommended to express her milk and store it in a refrigerator, so this may be given to the infant later on, at a time when her own breast milk still contains too much alcohol. When consuming alcohol, a nursing mom may well become intoxicated a bit more quickly than a woman of similar height and weight. Studies suggests that when a woman is amenorrheic because of breastfeeding, her estrogen levels are decreased which leads to increased intoxication.

Excessive drinking and nursing can be very unhealthy to a child. A baby may well suffer the affects of fatigue, deep sleep, some weakness, abnormal body fat, combined with diminishment of mental and motor development.

It was once thought that alcohol consumption improves milk creation. This is definitely wrong. Drinking hinders milk production.

The Conclusion

Alcohol and breastfeeding are not incompatible. Alcohol and nursing just requires more care, more planning.