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Can a breastfeeding mom drink alcohol?
Q: Is it OK to drink alcohol when I’m breastfeeding?
A: After abstaining from alcohol during pregnancy, many mums are ready to have an occasional drink following delivery. Some families break open a bottle of champagne immediately following a delivery to celebrate this exciting event.

You should be aware that alcohol passes into breast milk, and heavy alcohol consumption certainly is not advisable. Babies may change their sleep patterns and reduce their milk intake if their mothers drink alcohol. Alcohol use has also been associated with slower neurological development.

So if you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation—no more than one to two drinks on an occasional basis. Since your breast milk alcohol level will be highest soon after drinking, if you breastfeed immediately before having a drink, and then delay the next feed for two to three hours per drink, you will allow your blood alcohol level to diminish before feeding. This will ensure that your baby has minimal exposure to alcohol. Alternatively, some women feel more comfortable “pumping and dumping” their milk on a night that they drink, and giving their infant previously stored breast milk instead.

Laura E. Stachel M.D. Obstetrician & Gynecologist