During pregnancy, most expectant mothers avoid alcohol completely. So after nine long months, the first thing many new mothers look forward to, after a good night’s sleep, may be a drink or a glass of wine. Before you imbibe, you may want to consider what the American Academy of Pediatrics says about breastfeeding and alcohol.
1. Breastfeeding Recommendations
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months of life. After that, the recommendation is for breastfeeding along with solid foods until the baby is 1 year old or older, as long as both the mother and the infant want to continue.
2. Alcohol and Breastfeeding
Alcohol is passed through breast milk to the baby, so it is best to avoid regular use of alcohol while breastfeeding, according to HealthyChildren.org. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, alcohol consumption by a breastfeeding mother may make it difficult for the baby to latch on and to suck. The taste of alcohol may be unpleasant for your baby, so drinking alcohol may reduce the amount of milk your baby drinks. And there is no truth to the urban legend that drinking beer increases your milk supply.
3. If You Decide to Drink
The recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics is that breastfeeding mothers consume no more than 0.5 gram of alcohol per kilogram of the mother’s body weight, which comes out to 2 ounces of liquor, 8 ounces of wine or 2 beers for a 132-pound woman. To allow as much time as possible for the alcohol to leave your body, do not breastfeed or pump for at least two hours after you have had a drink. This will minimize the amount of alcohol that is passed on to your baby.
4. Effects of Chronic Drinking
The effects of chronic drinking during pregnancy are well-documented. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that “drinking alcohol during pregnancy is one of the leading preventable causes of birth defects, intellectual disabilities and other developmental disorders in newborns.” The effects of chronic or excessive drinking while breastfeeding are less clear, but HealthyChildren.org says that long-term repeated exposure to breast milk that contains alcohol is "of concern," and that chronic alcohol consumption by breastfeeding mothers can reduce milk production, and reduce the amount of milk the baby drinks.