Breastfeeding is hard work. Sometimes, you just want to do something that relaxes you. Have you been tempted to take a glass of wine, or some other alcoholic beverage while breastfeeding? Here is what we know about drinking alcohol while breastfeeding.

How Much Alcohol is Alright?


1 standard drink has 10g of alcohol. That translates into different volumes of different alcoholic beverages, depending on type, size, brand and whether it is packaged or poured into a glass for you. 30 mls of spirits is 1 standard drink, while 100 mls of red wine is 1 standard drink. A 375 ml can of full-strength beer is 1.1 standard drinks, while the same amount of a light beer is 0.8 standard drinks.

Can Alcohol Increase Your Breastmilk Production?

Cocktail with lime and mint. Concept of drinks and alcohol.

1 standard drink per day is not known to be harmful to the breastfeeding infant, however, there is no benefit to the infant as well. In the past, breastfeeding mothers were told to drink alcohol to boost breastmilk production. This is an ‘urban wives’ tale, according to the American Paediatrics Association, who recommends that breastfeeding mothers stay away from alcohol.

Can Alcohol Harm Your Baby?

Adolescent mother is breastfeeding a baby.

If you drink alcohol, it passes freely into your breastmilk. After 1 standard drink, alcohol stays in your breastmilk for 2 to 3 hours. The more alcohol you drink, the longer alcohol stays in your breastmilk. This is also affected by how fast the alcohol is drank, whether you are big or small, and how your body handles alcohol.

Babies breastfeed less immediately after their mothers drink alcohol. This may be because of a change in the taste of the breastmilk. Such babies also have changes in sleep patterns. It is not yet known whether there are developmental problems among babies whose mothers breastfeed while habitually drinking alcohol, but alcohol may decrease your breastmilk supply. Additionally, a baby’s organs are still developing, so it is not advisable to expose them to high amounts of alcohol. Again, getting drunk poses a risk to your baby as your judgement may be impaired and you may not be able to care for your baby well.

If Abstinence is not Possible

If you must take an alcoholic beverage while breastfeeding, it is advised that you take only a little amount. It is better to drink alcohol just after breastfeeding or expressing milk. Expressing and throwing away milk after drinking alcohol does not reduce the amount of alcohol in your breastmilk. It is only time that reduces it.

It is probably safe to breastfeed 2 hours after you take 1 standard drink, but it would not be a good practice to have to delay feeding a hungry baby because you have drank alcohol.

Drinking alcohol while breastfeeding has no benefits to the infant. It remains to be seen whether it is harmful to the baby. However, like many other things, moderation is better.

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