I was at a healthy baby group today and the topic of alcohol and breastfeeding came up. In Canada we have a resource called MotherRisk, generally it’s a resource that you can contact to inquire about medical questions you have during pregnancy and beyond. So if you were unsure as to what types of drugs are safe for a cold during pregnancy and you couldn’t get in touch with your doctor, they have a hotline that you can call and they will give you an answer based on scientific research.
Here’s a little more info specifically what MotherRisk does:
The Motherisk Program at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario, Canada is a clinical, research and teaching program dedicated to antenatal drug, chemical, and disease risk counselling. It is affiliated with the University of Toronto. Created in 1985, Motherisk provides evidence-based information and guidance about the safety or risk to the developing fetus or infant, of maternal exposure to drugs, chemicals, diseases, radiation and environmental agents
Recently they had conducted an study to determine just how long women should wait before resuming breastfeeding after having an alcoholic beverage. We’ve all read online that it’s 2 hours for one drink, and one drink being a beer, a 5 oz glass of wine, and 1oz of hard alcohol. But how much you weigh determines how quickly your body metabolizes the alcohol. Below what MotherRisk found in reference to drinking alcohol and breastfeeding:
I recently delivered a healthy, full-term baby and am now breastfeeding exclusively. I abstained form drinking alcohol during my entire pregnancy and am wondering if drinking alcohol now would harm my nursing baby.
Nursing mothers who choose to drink alcohol during the postpartum period should carefully plan a breastfeeding schedule by storing milk before drinking and waiting for complete elimination of alcohol from their breast milk after drinking. Mother risk has created an algorithm to estimate how long it takes to eliminate alcohol from breast milk.
Below is their algorithm:
*1 drink = 340 g (12 oz) of 5% beer, or 141.75 g (5 oz) of 11% wine, or 42.53 g (1.5 oz) of 40% liquor.
Here are two of their examples:
Example no. 1:
For a 40.8-kg (90-lb) woman who consumed three drinks in 1 hour, it would take 8 hours, 30 minutes for there to be no alcohol in her breast milk, but for a 95.3-kg (210-lb) woman drinking the same amount, it would take 5 hours, 33 minutes.
Example no. 2:
For a 63.5-kg (140-lb) woman drinking four beers starting at 8:00 pm, it would take 9 hours, 17 minutes for there to be no alcohol in her breast milk (ie, until 5:17 am)
They also note the following:
Because alcohol elimination follows zero-order kinetics, drinking water, resting, or ‘pumping and dumping” breast milk will not accelerate elimination. Unlike urine, which stores substances in the bladder, alcohol is not trapped in breast milk, but is constantly removed as it diffuses back into the bloodstream.
The Bottom Line
If any type of alcohol consumption makes you uncomfortable do not feel that you have to drink, or feel pressured to have a drink. If you are at a party and want to avoid pressure, you can drink soda with lime, or 7-up and add a lime wedge!
If you do decide to drink, the above information is a guideline only and does not replace a medical practitioner’s advice.
Alcohol is never good for a baby no matter in what quantities. An even though an infant is exposed to a fraction of the amount of alcohol the mother ingests, infants detoxify alcohol in their first weeks of life at only half the rate of adults.
One thing to mention is that, you are now responsible for another life, if you choose to drink make sure that someone is sober enough to take care of your baby should baby get ill.
Now after this is all said and done, I do enjoy beverages every now and again, my baby sleeps through the nigh (knocks on wood) so I do not have to feed him during the night. If for some reason I needed too, I always have milk stored in the fridge and freezer. I don’t feel there is anything wrong with enjoying a few drinks responsibly!
For more information on this article please click here, the references to the research articles are on that page as well!
Many thanks to Christy for this wonderful information!
For More information on the services that Mother Risk provides:
Motherisk counselors talk to hundreds of women and their healthcare providers each day providing guidance, support and peace of mind. So if you don’t find the information you are looking for on this website, try calling one of our Helplines. Motherisk counselors are available Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST.
1-877-327-4636 – Alcohol and Substance
1-800-436-8477 – Morning Sickness
1-888-246-5840 – HIV and HIV Treatment
(416) 813-6780 – Motherisk’s Home Line