The Promise: I won't drink alcohol as long as I'm breastfeeding.
I made and kept a promise to myself to abstain while pregnant. But three months into parenthood, I was craving a cold one. When our family went to the local Irish Festival, I couldn't take it anymore. Nursing my son in the Baby Bj?rn, I queued up for a pint of Killian's Red. After making my purchase, I popped off my son, who was then sleeping, and took a sip. Everyone noticed.
The Reality: You can safely enjoy a moderate amount of alcohol.
Although it's best to avoid drinking while breastfeeding, recent research suggests that nursing mothers can safely consume an alcoholic beverage once or twice a week, if they time it right. (It's not much, but after months of passing on the pinot, you might be tipsy after half a glass!) Alcohol you consume can be passed to the baby via breast milk, however, according to Nancy Brent, M.D., medical director of the Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh. Her advice: "Feed Baby, and then have your drink afterward." Three hours later, the alcohol should be gone from your blood, and it will be safe to breastfeed. Keep in mind that pumping and dumping does not rid your milk of alcohol -- you should do it only to relieve engorgement or stimulate your nursing supply, Dr. Brent points out. It is smart to pump prior to imbibing, though, so you'll have milk if the baby gets hungry before you can nurse him.