How Do You Feel About Breastfeeding and Drinking Alcohol?


April from Mama on a Green Mission and Courtney from Joy of Momma Joyner host this breastfeeding meme every Tuesday and the topic is always different. I love linking up and reading what others have to say.

This week the topic is Nursing and Drinking Alcohol.

Breastfeeding and Alcohol 
As soon as I hear the word ‘alcohol‘ I cringe. Weather or not we are considering breastfeeding or not. I am not a drinker and neither is my hubby. I literally have not had a drink in almost 10 years. I guess I can thank my ex for that. I guess when it’s all you are around for eleven years… it tends to lose it’s appeal. That aside, when I think of the word alcohol when breastfeeding IS involved, I tend to cringe even more.

Any amount of alcohol that enters mom’s system and bloodstream, also enters the baby through the breast milk. This being known, I would only be comfortable consuming a drink or two and waiting a couple of hours before feeding the baby. I think I would possibly pump and dump the first bottle also. Just so that **I** could feel comfortable.

I do know that there are ingredients in beer (barley, hop) that do help the milk production, but those ingredients are also in non-alcoholic beer, so that isn’t a good enough reason for me to be okay with drinking alcohol while nursing.

Baby Center says, that even if you have one drink, your baby has an immature liver which means she or he can’t process the alcohol as well as you can. This makes sense to me and makes me sad that someone might need to drink without realizing this. Baby Center goes on to say that there are studies that show that alcohol can affect babies’ eating and sleeping. During the four hours after a breastfeeding mother consumes an alcoholic beverage such as 4 ounces of wine, one mixed drink, or one can of beer – babies who nurse consume about 20 percent less milk. And while breastfed babies may become drowsy and fall asleep more quickly after their mother drinks alcohol, they also sleep for a shorter amount of time. Alcohol in breast milk may also hinder babies’ development. In a landmark study of 400 breastfed babies, gross motor development at 1 year of age lagged in infants whose mothers drank at least one drink daily during the babies’ first three months of life.

Le Leche League says alcohol passes freely into mother’s milk and has been found to peak about 30 to 60 minutes after consumption, 60 to 90 minutes when taken with food. Alcohol also freely passes out of a mother’s milk and her system. It takes a 120 pound woman about two to three hours to eliminate from her body the alcohol in one serving of beer or wine…the more alcohol that is consumed, the longer it takes for it to be eliminated. It takes up to 13 hours for a 120 pound woman to eliminate the alcohol from one high-alcohol drink. The effects of alcohol on the breastfeeding baby are directly related to the amount the mother consumes.

A recent article stirred up some chaos. A Half Moon Bay restaurant refused to serve a nursing mother alcohol. I’m not really sure how I feel about that. I am not sure if I would be able to serve a nursing mother alcohol without feeling really horrible about it. I guess we are to assume she would be responsible about her next feeding. But what if she wasn’t? I am not sure if I would want that on my conscience.

I just can not feel comfortable consuming alcohol myself while breastfeeding. I just can’t. This is how I feel, and you may feel just fine consuming a glass of wine while nursing and that is fine. I am just stating how I feel.

I couldn’t do it.

What about you?

What’s your opinion about consuming alcohol while nursing?


  1. I couldn’t do it. I rarely drink and when I do it is one or 2 drinks. I don’t even have a drink if I’m around my 9 yo. My sons dad is an alcoholic and turned me off of drinking.

  2. I couldn’t either. I come from abusive alcoholics on both sides of my family. Plus my MIL sets a bad example for my children too. I’m just glad my children see her foolish behavior for what it is and they have no desire to follow in her footsteps. While I know there are absolutely people out there who can hold their liquor we are not those people and because of that it would be wrong for me to be a bad example for my children. All the evidence showing the possible harm it could do to babies just adds to those facts for me.

  3. I think that nursing after drinking once in awhile is no big deal, especially if your child is older. I nursed a couple of hours after having some wine at a holiday party when my son was an infant. It was nice to feel normal and be able to celebrate with friends after abstaining through pregnancy. I am still nursing my son after 2 years and that’s a long time to say no to ALL drinks, including wine with holiday dinners and champagne at New Years.

    Not being able to drink at all while nursing is only going to deter potential breastfeeding mothers and push them over to formula if they were already on the fence. I would assume that a small amount of alcohol while nursing once in awhile is still canceled out by the pros of breastfeeding versus using formula.

    If you are drinking every single day, that’s a problem no matter how you feed your child.

  4. I haven’t had a drink in ages and thankfully stopped drinking before I had kids. I know that it’s ok to drink after it’s out of your system, but even still, if I were breastfeeding, I personally would’ve waited until I was done completely to pick up any kind of alcoholic beverages. This of course is a personal preference.

  5. I occasionally drink some beer or small glass of wine, and I still nurse my son. I avoided alcohol until he was about 6 months old and nursing less often. I always wait several hours after drinking so the alcohol has metabolized. I’m also a 5’10” 172 lb. woman, so I metabolize alcohol quicker than most women.

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