December 4, 2020

Alcohol and Breastfeeding

Alcohol and Breastfeeding


You have been abstaining from alcohol for a full nine months and have finally delivered your precious newborn… is a celebratory glass of champagne ok? Or will it get your little one tipsy, or worse yet, cause long term issues? The alcohol restrictions are not exactly over… but there is more wiggle room.  Read below for some good information about how to breastfeed and occasionally get your drink on.


Fast facts according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
  1. Up to one drink a day is not known to be harmful to a baby.
  2. Wait at least two hours after a single drink before nursing.
  3. If you are engorged but feeling tipsy or drunk… pump and dump.
  4. The more alcohol you consume the longer it stays in your system.
  5. The general rule according to Medela is “If you are sober enough to drive you should be sober enough to breastfeed.”



Is Alcohol found in breast milk?

You might be wondering if alcohol is found in breast milk. The answer is YES.  Alcohol from one drink can be found in breast milk up to two to three hours after consumption. More than one drink stays in the milk longer.

How to remove Alcohol from your breast milk:

Pumping or expressing the milk after consumption of alcohol will not reduce the amount of alcohol in your milk! It’s all about waiting the correct number of hours for the alcohol to leave your system, because the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream is continuous with the amount of alcohol in the breast milk.

Does drinking alcohol affect breast milk supply?

We are commonly asked if drinking alcohol affects milk supply. In large amounts, yes, alcohol can reduce the letdown of milk due to a decrease in a hormone called oxytocin. In small amounts, like a glass of wine or one beer, your milk supply is not affected. Unfortunately, the old wives’ tale that alcohol increases your milk supply does not hold up with our modern, high sugar content, version of alcohol.  But that does not mean you can’t have a few drinks while breastfeeding.


Now that we threw the facts at you, you might be feeling overwhelmed. Let’s discuss some options so you can hit the town without feeling nervous.


  1. Plan ahead! If you know you are going to kick back and have a drink make sure you prepare your baby’s breast milk cocktail by pumping before you go out.
  2. Make sure that if you plan on becoming tipsy there is someone sober and responsible to watch your baby.
  3. Remember it is okay to enjoy alcohol, just in moderation.
Can I drink wine and breastfeed? How about a beer?

For every different type of alcoholic beverage, there is a measurement to determine how much pure alcohol is inside it. In order to determine how much alcohol you are actually ingesting, use the measurements provided below!

How much alcohol is in one drink?

In the United States, one “standard” alcoholic drink, or equivalent, contains approximately 14 grams of pure alcohol. This is found in:

12 ounces of regular beer – 5% alcohol.

5 ounces of wine – 12% alcohol.

1.5 ounces of distilled spirits – 40% alcohol.

Each of these amounts is considered one drink.




Need more information? Check out the following links:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Is it safe for mothers to breastfeed their infant if they have consumed alcohol?

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: What Is A Standard Drink?



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