New Year’s Eve is drawing near and with it comes one last chance to be festive and merry before the drudgery of January hits us. There’s no need for lactating mothers to abstain from the celebration; responsible alcohol intake and breastfeeding are not contradictory.
According to La Leche League International, “alcohol passes freely into mother’s milk and has been found to peak about 30 to 60 minutes after consumption, 60 to 90 minutes when taken with food. Alcohol also freely passes out of a mother’s milk and her system.” That last bit is noteworthy. Motherisk clarifies it further by explaining that alcohol elimination is not accelerated by drinking water or coffee, sleeping, or “pumping and dumping” breast milk. Alcohol is not trapped in breast milk; it is diffused back into the bloodstream.
So what does this mean for a nursing mama who wants to ring in the new year with a glass of bubbly? It means drinking in moderation. Time alcohol consumption so that there is enough time between feedings for your blood alcohol level to drop. Pump breast milk before you drink so that your little one has a meal ready if a feeding is required before you feel able to nurse.
The Motherisk team produced a helpful table to show how long it takes for alcohol to clear the breast milk of women of various body weights. They’ve made it easy to find out how long you should wait before nursing after you’ve consumed alcohol (generally speaking, of course; for more personalized advice you should speak to your health care provider).