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Mother breastfeeding her newborn.

You’ve done the right thing and avoided alcohol throughout your pregnancy.  Your baby is here now, but is it okay to drink alcohol if you are breastfeeding your child?

The safest option is to not drink if you are breastfeeding, because alcohol can pass through breast milk to your baby when they feed. But timing and how much you drink are important factors, because moderate consumption well before you baby feeds can make drinking alcohol safer.Most toddlers love to help with small chores that build their independence, like putting laundry in a basket, feeding a pet or even setting a table. And creating a childproof area for independent play can give you time to relax.

 The alcohol in one drink can be detected in breast milk for 2 to 3 hours, and 2 drinks for 4 to 5 hours, and 3 drinks up to 8 hours, and so on. Higher levels of alcohol consumption can also lead to decreased milk production, and excessive drinking while breastfeeding could affect your child’s sleep patterns and early development.

When you are pumping breast milk, the level of alcohol in it is the same as what’s in your bloodstream at that time and does not decrease with more pumping or if the milk is given to the baby later.  The amount of time since you drank alcohol is the key safety factor.

Most guidelines say a breastfeeding mothers’ consumption of one alcoholic drink a day (12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirts like gin, vodka or rum) is not harmful for babies if you wait after drinking before feeding. You can also feed your baby breast milk that was pumped previously to avoid exposing them to any alcohol.

When you’re a new mother with questions about caring for your body to protect your child, an OB/GYN is the best source for information you can trust. Our practice has offices in the Downriver area of southeast Michigan in Southgate and Brownstown, and we make it easy to request an appointment.

Northline Women's Health Center Locations:

15675 Northline Road

Southgate, MI 48195

(734) 282-3600
(734) 282-3603 - Fax

23050 West Road, Suite 210

Brownstown Twp., MI 48183

(734) 362-7000
(734) 362-7077 - Fax