Nurturing life Your reference in perinatal nutrition, from pregnancy to childhood

I breastfeed. Can I drink alcohol?

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By : Nurturing Life's Nutrition Team | Montreal Diet Dispensary

Yes, but only in small, limited amounts. Following alcohol intake, wait at least two hours before breastfeeding your infant.

In fact, no safe level of alcohol consumption has been established for breastfeeding mothers.

When a breastfeeding mother drinks alcohol, it is detectable within minutes in her blood.   The level of alcohol in breast milk is similar to that found in the blood.

The liver metabolizes alcohol.  In infants whose livers are immature, the digestion of alcohol takes twice as long.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends:

  • Breastfeeding women who weigh 60 kg or less have no more than two drinks at a time (1 drink = 1 beer or 125 ml wine or 30 ml liquor).
  • Waiting two hours after consuming alcohol before breastfeeding. This is to ensure that the concentration of alcohol in breast milk has diminished sufficiently enough.

As a precautionary measure, “Motherisk” has developed a table to evaluate how long a mother should wait to eliminate all alcohol ingested, given her weight.  According to this table, a mother who weighs 65.8 kg (145 lbs) successfully eliminates the equivalent of one drink from her system in 2 hours and 16 minutes.  To eliminate two drinks, it takes up to 4 hours and 32 minutes, and so on.

In conclusion, public health agencies have not established any amount of alcohol deemed safe for breastfeeding women.  To reduce the amount of alcohol absorbed by the baby, mothers should only drink in small amounts, and remember to wait at least two hours before breastfeeding.

References

  • Eidelman, A. I., Schanler, R. J., Johnston, M., Landers, S., Noble, L., Szucs, K., & Viehmann, L. (2012). Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics, 129(3), e827-e841.
  • Giglia, R., & Binns, C. (2006). Alcohol and lactation: A systematic review. Nutrition & Dietetics, 63(2), 103-116. doi: 10.1111/j.1747-0080.2006.00056.x
  • Ketan, G., & Ketan, S. (2005). AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS: Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk. Pediatrics, 115(2), 496-506.
  • Koren, G. (2002). Drinking alcohol while breastfeeding. Will it harm my baby? Can Fam Physician, 48, 39-41

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The Public Health Agency of Canada has contributed financially to the production of Nurturing Life.

The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the official views of the Public Health Agency of Canada.