AS DOULAS WE'RE OFTEN ASKED HOW PARENTS BALANCE STAYING SOCIAL. GOING OUT WITH FRIENDS. ENJOYING A DATE. HAVING DINNER AND A NICE NIGHT IN. CAN I ENJOY A GLASS OF WINE, A BEER OR A COCKTAIL WHEN BREASTFEEDING? DO I HAVE TO PUMP & DUMP? JOIN US ON THE BLOG TODAY WITH LAURIE NOMMSEN-RIVERS PHD, RD, IBCLC WITH THE MOST UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION. WANT MORE OF LAURIE? JOIN US FOR OUR FEBRUARY MIX+MINGLE, A SOCIAL EVENT FOR EXPECTANT FAMILIES. LAURIE IS OUR FEATURED GUEST TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS! SPACE IS LIMITED, REGISTER NOW.

Do I have to totally abstain from alcohol while I am lactating?

Most mothers are very aware that no amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy, and this knowledge may lead some mothers to believe that they must choose between breastfeeding and enjoying an occasional alcoholic beverage once their bundle of joy arrives. Actually, you can continue to provide your baby with all of the tremendous benefits of breastfeeding and still enjoy the occasional glass of wine or cocktail as long as you are thoughtful about the timing.

The concentration of alcohol in your breast milk is pretty much equal to the concentration of alcohol in your blood (i.e., your blood alcohol level). About 30-60 minutes after consuming a standard glass of wine or single serving of a cocktail, the amount of alcohol in your breast milk will peak, and about 2-2.5 hours afterwards, nearly all of the alcohol in your breast milk will have dissipated (metabolized by your body). In practical terms, if you want to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, feed your baby or express your milk directly prior to sipping your wine, and then avoid breastfeeding for about 2- 3 hours. Individual timing varies depending on whether the alcohol is consumed with food and the individual’s body size and tolerance for alcohol. If you are feeling “buzzed” then you are very likely to still have alcohol in your breast milk and you should continue to avoid breastfeeding.

Whether or not you choose to breastfeed, as a new parent it is not advisable to consume more than the casual alcoholic beverage. Consuming excess alcohol could impair your ability to care for your newborn infant, not to mention impair your own health.  If you are not able to limit alcohol consumption to casual use of 1 or less servings per day, then it is best to talk with your health care provider about the benefits of breastfeeding versus risks of excess alcohol exposure to your baby. Most certainly, heavy drinkers should seek help in reducing alcohol intake and they should not breastfeed.

Alcohol serving sizes:

·         12 ounces of regular beer, which is usually about 5% alcohol

·         5 ounces of wine, which is typically about 12% alcohol

·         1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, which is about 40% alcohol

An excellent and reliable resource for up-to-date information on alcohol and drug transfer into breast milk is the National Library of Medicine Lactmed site (there is an app too).

Cincinnati Doula guest Laurie Nommsen-Rivers

Laurie A Nommsen-Rivers, PhD, RD, IBCLC
Associate Professor of Nutritional Sciences
Ruth E. Rosevear Endowed Chair of Maternal and Child Nutrition
College of Allied Health Sciences
University of Cincinnati

Laurie Nommsen-Rivers, PhD, RD, IBCLC, is an Associate Professor of Nutrition, and the Ruth Rosevear Endowed Chair of Maternal and Child Nutrition, at the University of Cincinnati. Laurie is a Registered Dietitian (RD) since 1990 and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) since 1993. She served as the Associate Editor of the Journal of Human Lactation from 1997- 2006. After receiving her master’s degree in Nutrition from the University of California Davis, she spent 18 years working with hundreds of mother-infant dyads as a research associate at UC Davis.  Motivated by a desire to accelerate the evidence base for improving clinical lactation practice, Laurie returned to the University of California in 2004 to obtain a PhD in epidemiology. Between 2009 and 2016 Laurie was an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Neonatology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. She has co-authored over 70 research publications related to the breastfeeding dyad with a focus on barriers that impede lactation success. Her current work focuses on physiologic factors that influence milk production in lactating mothers.

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