It's the holiday season, and whether we like it or not, our calendars are booked with parties and get-togethers. It can be stressful, but we get to see and spend time with family and friends. In short, holiday parties are time well spent. Now the question is how just how much can a breastfeeding mom can partake when it comes to alcohol? The good news is you can drink wine, but you can't join the revelry happening at the office Christmas party.
"A glass of wine is fine, but if you've had more, you have to wait two to three hours before feeding your baby," advises pediatrician Dr. Jamie Isip-Cumpas, who is a member of the breastfeeding committee of the Philippines Pediatric Society, and an international-certified breastfeeding and lactation counselor (ICBLC). She suggests breastfeeding mom drink only occasionally.
It's the same recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): A mom who previously had alcohol should wait two hours before feeding her baby to minimize alcohol concentration in her breast milk.
AAP also recommends nursing moms to limit alcohol intake to no more than 0.5 grams alcohol per kilogram body weight. That's about two ounces of hard liquor, eight ounces of wine, or two beers for an average 120- to 130-pound woman.
The amount of alcohol that passes through the body's bloodstream is relatively small if you drink moderately and occasionally. The more alcohol you consume or, the higher alcohol concentration your drink has, the longer it could take for alcohol to leave your system. That means it could be passed on to the baby. If you still feel buzzed or too tipsy to drive, Dr. Isip-Cumpas suggests don't breastfeed.
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Instead, moms are advised to pump and dump to relieve engorged breasts and continue to stimulate milk production. However, it does not make the alcohol in your system go away faster even after drinking lots of water. Innovative products, such as MilkScreen, can tell you if your breast milk still has traces of alcohol. But if you're unsure, it's best to offer your baby thawed expressed breast milk while you wait it out.
Other than the two considerations, timing is also essential. Most moms drink after feeding their baby to give their bodies time to process the alcohol they consume. Take note your baby's feeding pattern and work around it. If you have a newborn who still feeds every one to two hours, you should probably wait until your baby can wait at least three to four hours before feeding again.
A nursing mom should be careful because a baby's liver is not yet mature enough to process alcohol as well adults do. Infants younger than three months process alcohol in their body only half the rate of adults. Traces of alcohol in breast milk can make babies become drowsy and quickly fall asleep but often for only a short period. It can result in future sleep issues and a study had also linked it to delayed gross motor development.
By the way, alcohol consumption can also disrupt your hormones and affect milk production. You wouldn't want that, right?