Q: Hello Doctor, my baby is almost 2 months old and I am breast feeding. I would like to know if I can have a glass of wine once in a while even while still breastfeeding. If not, how long does alcohol stay in the blood when you take it so that I can pump and feed baby?
A: Congratulations on your new baby! He/she will be a blessing to you and your family!
Diet and indeed anything we eat, affect our breast milk and by extension, baby. These are foods to avoid or limit their consumption while breast feeding:
Caffeine in coffee (try decaffeinated and stick with 2 small tea cups), energy drinks, some soft drinks etc. This makes the baby irritable and by extension, makes sleep difficult for the baby. Now, you don’t want that, do you?
Alcohol: This should be avoided at all costs as it does not mix quite well with breastfeeding. The alcohol consumed makes its way into the breast milk in about the same concentration as it does in blood. Though baby is exposed to just a fraction of it, the fact that baby’s liver is unable to excrete this alcohol as well as an adult makes even this small amount a potential problem. This alcohol has been found to affect baby’s sleep and feeding pattern (babies appear to drink less milk after alcohol intake by mother) and also baby’s motor development. Motor development refers to development of baby’s ability to move around and manipulate his/her environment.
Old wives’ tales have it that drinking alcohol increases milk production but there is no scientific evidence. If anything, alcohol causes dehydration and by extension reduces breast milk production.
The length of time the alcohol stays in your breast milk depends on how much you drink and can also vary from person to person. If you take a drink, it could be about 2 to 3 hours before it clears from breast milk.
Can you pump and feed baby at this time? Well, yes. You can take the wine before you feed baby so that in another 3 hours, when you need to feed baby again, the alcohol would have cleared from the blood. Another option is to express the breast milk before you drink and feed baby with that in the hours after drinking.
You did say, you asked this question because you would like to take a glass of wine once in a while. This may not necessarily pose a challenge to your baby if you follow the rule of thumb above. Remember, however, that when you take alcohol you run the risk of becoming intoxicated and being unable to take care of your baby apart from the risks noted above.
I can sense a number of you frowning at me and saying, ‘Dr Ketch, don’t encourage her to drink!’ Well, this is not meant to be an encouragement to drink. It’s just stating facts because I am well aware that even if I ask her not to drink (and I have no right to do that) she will still drink if she sets her mind to do so! So, the focus is on, how this can be done safely, if at all 😀
Cigarette (yeah, yeah, I know it’s not food) should also be avoided as it reduces the production of breast milk.
If baby reacts to what the mother ate, efforts should be made to pinpoint what the mother ate before the incident started and then eliminating that from the diet to see if the diarrhea or allergy stops.
Make sure that you eat well: lots of fruits and vegetables and complex carbohydrates. Cut out the junk which will not help you achieve your weight loss goals and in addition have empty calories. And drink sufficient fluids daily.
Be careful before taking any drug as most find their way into your baby.
Hope this helps.
Goodnight y’all 😀