Breastfeeding A to Z

Alcohol While Breastfeeding

Alcohol does cross into breastmilk and mimics the levels in the mother’s bloodstream (1)  In the first month of life babies detoxify alcohol at approximately half the rate of an adult. (2)
Alcohol peaks in the breastmilk about 30 to 60 minutes after drinking it on an empty stomach or 60-to 90 minutes when taken with food. (2)
Occasional use of alcohol (one or fewer drinks per day) has not been found to be harmful to the nursing baby. (1)(3)  Consider, if you do consume alcohol, one glass of wine, or one beer, to then wait approximately 2 hours before nursing again.  One way to minimize the amount of alcohol your baby will get in breastmilk is to have the alcohol right after breastfeeding, so the least amount will be present in the breastmilk at the next feeding.
Pumping breastmilk does not increase the speed at which the alcohol is eliminated from the milk or from the body (1)
References:
  1. Lawrence, RA, Lawrence, RM, Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Professional, 7th edition, Maryland Heights, MO, Elsevier Mosby, 2011, p 381.
  2. Mannel, R, Marten, PJ, Walker, M, Core Curriculum for Lactation Consultant Practice, 3rd edition, Burlington, MA, Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2013, p 332.
  3. Mohrbacher, N, Stock, J, La Leche League International The Breastfeeding Answer Book, 3rd revised edition, Schaumburg, IL, La Leche League International, Jan 2003, p 597.