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Breastfeeding and Alcohol

Do you need to avoid alcohol while breastfeeding? The answer is not as clear-cut as many people think. For example, some sources say that small quantities are fine (in some cultures, beer is even touted as a lactation aid). Other research suggests that alcohol can interfere with a baby's sleep patterns or cause other problems. Having an occasional drink is a highly personal decision. If you do imbibe, just be sure to do it wisely.

Can I Have a Drink While Breastfeeding?

For nine months, give or take, pregnant women often abide by the rule of avoiding alcohol while they're expecting. But what about while you're breastfeeding? Although the recommendations are to avoid alcohol during pregnancy, those guidelines are a little less defined for women who are nursing.
If you do a search on the Internet about whether this is something that is safe to do, you will find a vast array of conflicting information. Although there is no hard-and-fast rule, it will come down to your decision based on the available information that's out there. Let's look at a couple of simple questions. Does alcohol pass through breast milk? Would it harm my nursing infant?

Does Alcohol Pass Through Breast Milk?

It's a simple answer -- Yes. Alcohol does pass into breast milk. In fact, research has shown that the amount of alcohol found in breast milk will peak about 30 to 60 minutes after it is consumed by the mother or about 60 to 90 minutes when taken with food. It also passes out of a mother's milk and her system. It is estimated that it takes a 120-pound woman about two to three hours to remove one serving of beer or wine from her body.
However, the more alcohol she consumes, the longer it takes to be removed from the body. For a high-alcohol drink, it can take up to 13 hours for a 120-pound woman to eliminate this alcohol from the body. Basically, it comes down to the amount consumed. The effects of alcohol on the breastfed infant are directly related to how much alcohol the mother consumes.
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