With the holidays coming up, you may be a bit anxious about how your breastfeeding plans are going to jive with your upcoming holiday party schedule.
Between Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, let’s face it – there is going to be A LOT of booze involved.
You may not have been able to drink last year (depending on whether or not you were pregnant).
But the question is: can you drink this year?
How long does alcohol stay in your breast milk? One thing that it does not depend on is the “type” of alcohol that you drink. Whether you love your wine (who doesn’t?), enjoy brewskies or are all about the hard bar, alcohol is alcohol. Whatever amount of alcohol is contained in that precious glass you consume will end up in your breast milk just as it ends up in your bloodstream.
Dark beers can actually stimulate milk production!
So if you drink a glass of red wine, for example, and your blood alcohol level at the time is 0.08, it is safe to assume that the blood alcohol content level in your breast milk is the same.
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So, Can I Drink or Not?
A lot of articles on the web glaze over the effects of alcohol on babies, especially newborns.
For example, if you have an infant who is younger than 3 months old, that bubs are processing the alcohol you drank at around half the rate of adults.
That’s tough on their little immature livers.
Alcohol in breast milk has also been shown to have a negative effect on a baby’s eating and sleeping habits.
Within the four hours after a breastfeeding mom has had one alcoholic beverage (in this case 4 ounces of wine, one cane of beer or one mixed drink), the babies nurse approximately 20% less.
Now you may be saying, “But my baby falls asleep faster if I have a drink!” and yes, that may be true.
But just as with adults who drink themselves to sleep, infants will sleep for a shorter amount of time and will wake up more frequently throughout the night.
Not exactly something you want.
If this isn’t enough to turn you away from alcohol, consider this:
- One study featuring 400 breastfed babies revealed that infants at 1-year-old infants of mothers who enjoyed one drink daily during the child’s first year of life lagged behind those who did not drink.
With that said, the results of this study have yet to be duplicated.
Seriously, Can I Have a Drink or What?
Alcohol + babies = bad.
But you are not excluded from enjoying a “drinkie-poo” or two at events if you take the proper precautions.
Strategy #1: The Wait It Out Method
If you have one drink, wait at least two hours after you finish it before you nurse your baby.
At that point, your body should have completely cleared out the alcohol.
If you’ve had more to drink, multiply the number of drinks by 2 hours.
Your blood alcohol level will be at its highest 30 to 90 minutes after you drink, so 2 hours is a “safe” time frame to stick by.
Strategy #2: The Pump and Store Method
This is when you will be particularly glad that you thought ahead and started squirreling away pumped breast milk (though make sure it’s fresh!).
Ideally, you’ll pump right before you head out to your soiree so that you have fresh, delicious breast milk waiting for your baby upon your return.
You can use milk that has been in a refrigerator it was stored within 8 days, milk in a freezer (with a refrigerator) for 3 to 4 months, and deeply frozen milk for 12 months.
Heck, even room temperature milk is good for a minimum of 4 hours.
Strategy #3: The Pump and Dump Method
During those first few weeks when your breasts are still trying to figure out your baby’s feeding schedule, the pump and dump method may be the best – or it may be best if you’ve experienced a crazy bender.
Before your feeding machines become rock hard, be prepared to breast pump out that excess milk and then dump it down the sink.
That “ish” is no good for your bubs.
If you come home to a hungry baby and don’t have any breast milk squared away, you will want to have some formula on hand.
Though your baby may avoid it like the plague, in desperate situations you could feed it to your baby through a syringe tucked into the side of his or her mouth.
How to Reduce the Effects of Alcohol
Breastfeeding moms are entitled to a good time, though if you want to reduce the amount of time it takes for the alcohol level to level out, make sure that you:
a) Match your alcoholic drink one-for-one with water (i.e. for every glass of wine have an 8-ounce glass of water)
b) Eat (this is a great excuse to indulge in whatever delicious finger foods and treats are laid out before you)
c) Walk around and socialize (the more active you are, the faster the alcohol will clear from your system)
image source: Mama Natural Pinterest
You Can Drink – But Be Ready for It
As soon as you receive that invitation to an event, start pumping, start storing it in bottles or bags, and most importantly start planning a stunning outfit that will blow the minds of all of the attendees.
- Preparation is everything
- Alcohol exists in breast milk and has negative effects
- Wait to feed, set aside milk beforehand, or pump and dump before breastfeeding
- You deserve to have a good time
Whether it’s a night with the girls or a company Christmas party, enjoy yourself.
Share your tips and tricks for breastfeeding while partaking in a bevvie or two below.