Before you became pregnant you may have enjoyed going out with friends and having a drink or two over dinner. Then when you decided you wanted to get pregnant you gave it all up. After 9 long months and those first couple months of being at home with your baby, you are chomping at the bit to get out on the town again. Is a little alcohol while breastfeeding going to be OK?
If you ask your mother you are guaranteed to get a very stern warning about not drinking any alcohol until you quit breastfeeding. Your husband may express doubts about whether it is OK or not. Most of your friends may even warn you to stay away from alcohol while breastfeeding.
The surprising answer, it is OK to have some alcohol while you are breastfeeding, with a few minor guidelines. Did you just give a big sigh of relief, or was that a jump for joy?
The guidelines are very simple. You should still limit your intake of alcohol. A couple drinks are going to be fine. Ideally you want to make sure you either breastfeed before going out, or have pumped your milk first to make sure it is available for the baby.
Alcohol does go into your breast milk temporarily when you drink. It disappears from your milk at the same rate it disappears from your bloodstream. You will probably want to wait a minimum of two to three hours after having your last drink before you consider breastfeeding your baby.
Another important guideline has to do with the age of your baby. If your baby is over 3 months of age their liver has developed the capability to process small amounts of alcohol. This means even if you drink a beer or a glass of wine and breastfeed shortly afterwards your baby will be fine. Before 3 months of age you should not drink and feed until you feel zero after effects of drinking.
As you probably already noted it is advised to only have one or two drinks. The reason for this is not as much physiological as it is psychological. Having a hangover or feeling under the weather for having drank too much is going to make you feel guilty and decrease the quality of your care. There is no reason to risk these uneasy feelings when you will have just as good of a time with a drink or two.
You should be prepared for the sermons you are likely to get from the grandparents. You may want to print out a couple articles which detail the evidence showing no harm comes to babies if their mothers drink responsibly. They may want to believe you are taking unnecessary risks, and by showing them your research they will let you off the hook.
Alcohol while breastfeeding used to be frowned upon by most pediatricians but today with all the recent studies showing it is completely safe when you follow simple guidelines they will be on your side. Having a good time, relaxing, and enjoying life leads to happier parents, which always leads to a happier baby.