Can You Drink Alcohol While Breastfeeding?


As a new mother, you may be wondering Can You Drink Alcohol While Breastfeeding? The answer is not a simple yes or no, as there are many factors that come into play when considering this question. Breastfeeding is a beautiful and natural way to nourish your newborn, providing them with essential nutrients and building a strong bond between mother and child. However, many new mothers often wonder whether it’s safe to enjoy an occasional drink while breastfeeding. In this article, we will be exploring the effects of alcohol on breast milk, guidelines for responsible alcohol consumption, and how to ensure the health and well-being of both mother and baby.

Can You Drink Alcohol While Breastfeeding?
Understanding Alcohol and Breast Milk

When you consume alcohol, it enters your bloodstream and can also be passed into your breast milk. This means that any amount of alcohol in your blood will also be present in your breast milk, though the concentration may vary depending on factors such as how much you’ve had to drink, your weight, and the time elapsed since consumption. It takes about 2-3 hours for the body to metabolize one standard drink (12 oz beer, 5 oz wine, or 1.5 oz liquor), so if you plan on breastfeeding after consuming alcohol, it is important to keep track of how much time has passed since your last drink.

1. Alcohol Metabolism

Before we dive into the question of drinking while breastfeeding, it’s crucial to understand how alcohol is processed by the body. When you consume alcohol, your body metabolizes it primarily in the liver. Small amounts of alcohol can also be excreted through sweat, breath, and urine.

2. Alcohol in Breast Milk

Alcohol can indeed pass into breast milk, and its concentration in milk is similar to that in the bloodstream. However, it’s important to note that the amount of alcohol present in breast milk is relatively low and depends on various factors, including the mother’s weight, the type of alcohol consumed, and the time elapsed since consumption.

Can You Drink Alcohol While Breastfeeding? Unveiling the Effects

The potential effects of alcohol on breast milk and your baby are a cause for concern among many new mothers.

Reduced Milk Production

Excessive alcohol consumption can temporarily reduce milk production. It’s crucial to maintain adequate hydration and continue breastfeeding or pumping regularly to prevent this issue.

Altered Taste

Some babies may reject breast milk that has a strong alcohol odor or taste. Pumping and discarding milk produced during or shortly after drinking can prevent this.

Slower Reflexes

Alcohol can impair your reflexes and judgment. Ensure your baby’s safety by avoiding co-sleeping if you have been drinking. Moreover, alcohol can also affect your baby’s sleep patterns and development. It can make them drowsy and cause disruptions in their sleep, which can have negative impacts on their overall growth and development

Safe Alcohol Consumption Guidelines

 Timing Matters

If you choose to consume alcohol while breastfeeding, timing is crucial. The general rule of thumb is to breastfeed or pump milk before having a drink. This allows ample time for your body to metabolize the alcohol before the next feeding.

Balance is essential

Moderation is essential when it comes to alcohol consumption while breastfeeding. Limit yourself to one standard drink, which typically contains 14 grams of pure alcohol. Examples of one standard drink include a 12-ounce beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.

Wait It Out

To ensure the safety of your baby, it’s advisable to wait at least two hours after having one standard drink before breastfeeding again. This allows your body to eliminate the alcohol from your system.

Pump and Store

If you anticipate drinking more than one standard drink, consider pumping and storing breast milk in advance. This way, you can feed your baby stored milk while waiting for the alcohol to clear from your system.

Alternatives for Those Who Choose Not to Drink

For those who choose not to drink alcohol while breastfeeding, there are several alternatives that can still help you feel included in social gatherings. You can opt for non-alcoholic drinks such as mocktails, sparkling water, or juice. Another option is to pour yourself a small amount of alcohol and dilute it with water or another non-alcoholic beverage. This way, you can still participate in cheers and toasts without consuming too much alcohol.


In conclusion, the general recommendation is to avoid drinking alcohol while breastfeeding. However, if you do choose to consume alcohol, make sure to follow the guidelines mentioned above and prioritize the safety and well-being of your baby. If you have any concerns or questions, it is always best to consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice. Remember, the most important thing is to make informed decisions that are best for you and your baby.


Can I drink alcohol while breastfeeding if I pump and dump?

Pumping and dumping is not necessary if you wait for the alcohol to clear from your system. Expressing milk and discarding it does not speed up the elimination of alcohol from your body

Can I have more than one standard drink while breastfeeding?

It is not recommended to consume more than one standard drink while breastfeeding, as this can affect your milk production and potentially harm your baby.

How will I know if my baby is affected by alcohol in breast milk?

If you notice any changes in your baby’s behavior, such as increased fussiness or difficulty sleeping, it may be due to alcohol in breast milk. If you have any concerns, consult with a healthcare professional

Can I drink hard liquor while breastfeeding?

Hard liquor contains higher concentrations of alcohol than beer or wine and should be consumed in moderation, following the same guidelines for one standard drink.

Are there any long-term effects of alcohol consumption while breastfeeding?

There is limited research on the long-term effects of alcohol consumption while breastfeeding. However, excessive drinking can have negative consequences for both mother and baby.

Can I drink coffee or caffeinated beverages while breastfeeding?

Moderate caffeine intake is generally safe while breastfeeding. However, keep in mind that caffeine can also pass into breast milk and may affect your baby’s sleep patterns. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized recommendations. Remember, the well-being of you and your baby should always be top priority.


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