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Breastfeeding and Alcohol

There's a good chance that you avoided wine, beer, and other alcoholic beverages throughout your pregnancy. After all, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and other notable organizations advise women not to drink at all during pregnancy. Once the baby is born, however, the rules change. If you're looking to toast the arrival of your baby, here's what you need to know before you clink glasses.

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Hi. My name is Kimberly Durdin, and I'm a board-certified lactation consultant. I've been helping moms breastfeed for over 20 years. Alcohol does pass at the breast milk, but usually in very small amounts. Most experts agree that drinking alcohol in moderation is safe and compatible with breastfeeding. Thirty to 60 minutes after ingesting an alcoholic beverage is when the level of alcohols peak in the mom's blood. The levels of alcohol in a mom's breast milk rises along with the levels of alcohol in a mom's blood. However, a small amount, very small amount of that alcohol, is actually passing into breast milk. Studies show that oxytocin, which is one of the hormones involved in lactation, is suppressed when moms drink alcohol. So actually, even though babies are nursing, they might not be getting as much breast milk if mom drinks alcohol. So, moderation is important. Experts agree that one alcoholic beverage a day seems to be safe. And that means one 12-ounce beer, one glass of wine, and 1.5 ounces of a hard liquor-- seems to be okay. And for more information on that, you could go to the Infant Risk Center. There website is www.infantrisk.com. And you can click on the information regarding alcohol. They also provide a way for you to determine how much alcohol is too much if I'm breastfeeding based on a mom's body weight. Some moms have heard that they must pump their milk and pour it out. What we call "pumping and dumping" if they're drinking alcoholic beverages. It's not really necessary to do that. But if mom does want to reduce her infant's exposure to alcohol, then while she's having alcoholic beverages, if she plans to have more than one or two beverages, she can pump her milk at that time and discard it. She can pump milk ahead of time to provide for the baby during the time that she plans to be having more than one or two alcoholic drinks. Choosing to drink alcohol while nursing a child is a very personal decision. I hope this gives you more information to help you make an informed choice. Thank you for watching.