Can You Drink and Breastfeed?

Occasional, moderate alcohol consumption (up to one standard drink per day) is not known to be harmful to breastfeeding babies. However, it’s a good idea to pump and store your breast milk beforehand and have a bottle of formula ready in case your baby is hungry.

Alcohol can interfere with judgment and reaction times, so it’s important to make sure you arrange for a sober person to care for your baby if you decide to have a drink.


Alcohol metabolizes different in people.

Sometimes, a cold beer or glass of wine just sounds too tempting to pass up. However, some new moms worry that the occasional drink will interfere with breastfeeding and cause future developmental problems for their babies.

The safest approach is to not drink any alcohol while nursing, but there are times when it may be unavoidable, such as a family gathering or a business meeting. Drinking two to three drinks on occasion does not appear to affect a woman’s milk supply, but more than that is likely to cause reduced milk production and can lead to engorgement, which could result in mastitis.

If a mother is going to have alcohol, she should pump beforehand and store some of her pumped breastmilk, as a little alcohol can make her milk more sour. Then she should wait about two hours after drinking before trying to nurse again. That’s because the alcohol concentration in a mother’s breastmilk has been shown to peak anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes after she has consumed alcohol.

Sue Bechhold, a lactation consultant and co-chair of Main Line Health’s Lactation Committee, says that mothers should consider their individual tolerance level before having more than one or two drinks. “If you feel sober enough to drive after one drink, then you’re probably sober enough to breastfeed,” she says.

How long does alcohol(drink) stay in breast milk?

Alcohol passes freely into breast milk, reaching a peak level about 30-60 minutes after drinking. It can remain detectable in breast milk for 2-3 hours after a single drink. The length of time it remains in breast milk increases with the number of drinks a breastfeeding mom consumes.

Generally, it is safe to have a moderate amount of alcohol while breastfeeding as long as the mother takes a few precautions. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting two hours between consuming alcohol and nursing or pumping, which gives the body enough time to clear the alcohol from the system. It’s also recommended to eat before drinking and to stay well hydrated.

A nursing mother can safely drink a small amount of alcohol, but she should never become intoxicated while breastfeeding. Exposure to alcohol through breast milk can negatively affect the infant, including growth and sleep patterns. In addition, alcohol can impair a nursing mother’s judgment and ability to care for her child.

Many breastfeeding women believe that it is best to express and discard breast milk after drinking, but this is not always practical or necessary. Pumping and dumping do not decrease the amount of alcohol in the breast milk, as it is simply transferred from the mother’s bloodstream into the expressed milk. Additionally, it is important to note that a baby’s immature liver can only process up to 200mg/100 ml of alcohol.

Do you have to pump and dump after drinking?

While experts agree that avoiding alcohol while breastfeeding is the best option, some moms choose to indulge in a drink from time to time. Moderate drinking (meaning one standard drink per day) is not known to harm babies, as long as you wait two hours before nursing or pumping after your last alcoholic beverage.

Having a glass of wine or a beer at dinner is safe, but be sure to make arrangements for the baby’s care in case you need to nurse or pump afterward. While pumping and dumping do flush out your system, it won’t reduce the amount of alcohol that’s present in your breast milk.

A few drinks can also reduce how much milk a mother produces because it causes nerves in the nipple to become more sensitive to the baby’s mouth, and therefore reduces the amount of liquid released during a feeding. It’s a good idea to wait at least two hours after consuming alcohol before nursing, but if you’re in an urgent situation and need to feed, you can always use previously expressed breastmilk.

If you’re concerned about the safety of a particular medication or drug while breastfeeding, ask your doctor or consult LactMed, a database of medications and their effects on breastfeeding infants. In most cases, prescription drugs are safe to take if you’re breastfeeding, but many over-the-counter and recreational drugs can enter the breast milk and harm your baby.

What happens if a baby drinks breast milk with alcohol?

Although only a small amount of alcohol passes into breastmilk, breastfeeding mothers should always wait at least two hours per drink before nursing. That gives the alcohol time to clear from her system and prevents it from being transferred to the baby during feedings.

According to Peluso, some experts recommend that breastfeeding women avoid alcohol altogether, while others say that a single drink on occasion is fine. Regardless, it’s important to speak with a lactation consultant for individualized guidance.

It’s also recommended that breastfeeding mothers eat first before drinking, as this slows the rate at which alcohol enters their bodies. It’s also best to drink water or other non-alcoholic beverages, as alcohol can dehydrate a woman. Peluso advises breastfeeding mothers to plan their drinks around their baby’s feeding schedule, and try to be sober by the time their baby is due for a bottle or snack.

If a mother is still drinking when her baby needs to feed, she should express and discard her milk (a practice known as pumping and dumping). However, this won’t reduce the amount of alcohol in her breastmilk, and won’t help her clear the alcohol from her system any faster. In addition, if she chooses to pump and dump, she’ll likely have to wait at least two hours before breastfeeding again, as the alcohol will continue to accumulate in her milk until it reaches the same level as that of her blood.


The question of whether it’s safe to drink alcohol while breastfeeding is a topic that has been extensively studied and discussed. The general consensus among healthcare professionals is that it is best to avoid alcohol while breastfeeding or to do so in moderation and with caution.Remember that alcohol can pass into breast milk and potentially affect your baby. The safest course of action is to avoid alcohol while breastfeeding, especially during the early months when your baby is more vulnerable to its effects. If you do choose to drink, do so in moderation and with caution, and always prioritize your baby’s well-being. Additionally, it’s important to stay updated with the latest guidelines and consult with a healthcare provider for the most current information and recommendations on this topic.

Can you drink alcohol while breastfeeding?

Yes, you can, but it’s recommended to do so in moderation and with caution.

How does alcohol affect breast milk?

Alcohol can pass into breast milk, potentially affecting your baby. It may make the milk taste different, and high alcohol consumption can lead to drowsiness, poor feeding, and developmental issues in infants.

What is considered a safe amount of alcohol while breastfeeding?

A general guideline is to limit alcohol consumption to one standard drink per day or less. Timing and type of drink also matter.

Should I pump and dump after drinking alcohol?

Pumping and dumping breast milk is not necessary. Instead, wait for the alcohol to clear from your system, which typically takes 2-3 hours per standard drink.

Can I breastfeed immediately after drinking alcohol?

It’s generally advisable to wait at least 2-3 hours after consuming alcohol before breastfeeding to allow your body to metabolize it.

Can I drink beer while breastfeeding?

You can, but keep in mind that beer contains alcohol, so the same guidelines for alcohol consumption apply.

What if I accidentally drank more than I intended while breastfeeding?

If you’ve consumed more alcohol than planned, consider waiting longer before breastfeeding to ensure it has cleared from your system.

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