Can I have my drink and breastfeed too? What exactly does it mean to pump and dump? In today’s blog, we want to settle the myths about pumping and dumping while giving more affirmative facts about safe alcohol consumption and juggling breastfeeding.


Can I Drink and Breastfeed?

Your safest bet is to not drink alcohol while breastfeeding. However, keeping to moderate consumption is generally safe. What qualifies as “moderate consumption”? For women, this means one drink or less per day. One drink can be defined as: 

  • 12 oz of 5% beer
  • 8 oz of 7% malt liquor 
  • 5 oz of 12% wine
  • 1.5 oz of 40% (80 proof) distilled spirits or liquor

Check the ABV (alcohol by volume) content of the drink to determine what “one” drink would be–many common alcoholic drinks contain more alcohol than listed above. It also would be best to avoid cocktails and mixed drinks, as you may not know the ABV content in them.  


Can Alcohol Get in Breast Milk?

Yes. Alcohol can be found in breast milk for as long as it is found in your bloodstream. In order to ensure no alcohol gets passed on to your child during feeding, it is important to wait after drinking for the alcohol to metabolize before breastfeeding or pumping. How long should you wait? The minimum wait time is at least 2-3 hours after one drink. This will give time to allow your liver to break down the alcohol. If you are having more than one drink, give at least 2-3 hours per drink before breastfeeding. 

Remember that these are just guidelines. The amount of time alcohol stays in the bloodstream and breast milk will vary for each person. Some factors will include: 

  • How much alcohol was consumed
  • How fast it was consumed
  • Whether it was consumed with food
  • Your body weight
  • How fast your body naturally breaks down alcohol in your liver 

While there are ways to feel more sober after having had drinks, remember that there is no way to speed up the process of filtering alcohol out of your body system. That includes pumping and dumping.


Does “Pumping and Dumping” Make Breastfeeding Safe?

The practice of pumping breast milk and then discarding it, or “pump and dump”, does nothing for the safety of breastfeeding. It does not reduce the amount of alcohol present in the milk. Alcohol will be present in the breast milk for as long as it is present in the bloodstream. The practice is not necessary, unless it is to help the mother with discomfort from engorgement. Our tip when it comes to drinking and pumping is either pump before you drink and/or wait the allotted time after. 


What Are the Effects of Alcohol On a Breastfeeding Baby?

As long as the mother adheres to the defined moderate levels of drinking, there are no known effects of alcohol on the breastfed baby–especially after waiting two or more hours per drink to feed or pump. However, with higher consumption levels, the baby may experience adverse effects such as interrupted sleep patterns, delayed development, and issues with growth. Additionally, higher consumption levels can affect the milk release during breastfeeding while the alcohol levels are high. Excessive consumption could also lead to decreased milk production over time. 


When it comes to New Year’s celebrations–be responsible; know your limits and don’t overdo it. Having a drink in moderation is fine, just be sure to take the proper precautions when it comes to breastfeeding. If you have any questions about how to safely drink while in the breastfeeding stage, any of our doctors are happy to help: make an appointment with us today!