Mothers who have endured 9 months of pregnancy, hours of labor, and weeks recovering ask their pediatrician not infrequently (at least, if my own experience is any indication): “If I am breastfeeding my baby can I drink alcohol? And if I can, will I have to pump and throw away that precious milk?”
Pediatrician Phil Boucher uses some anatomy, physics, and a bit of biochemistry on his excellent blog (check it out here) to prove that “pump and dump” is a myth. We will, you and I, just cut to the chase:
You have enough things to worry about. Your time is precious. Breast milk is precious. Your baby is precious….most of the time. But probably not all the time…that’s why you’re reading a blog post (high likelihood that you are nursing as you read this) to get permission to have that margarita!
Alcohol gets out of breast milk quickly and so there is no need to “pump and dump” if mother limits her alcohol intake to one or two drinks and waits 1-2 hours per drink to breast feed or pump. The AAP agrees with my sentiment: modest alcohol intake does not preclude breast feeding and there should be as little inconvenience as possible to breast feeding mothers to encourage exclusive breast-feeding.
BOTTOM LINE: HAVE A DRINK IF YOU’D LIKE, WAIT AN HOUR OR TWO, AND FEEL NO QUALMS ABOUT BREAST-FEEDING YOUR LITTLE ONE.
The PediaBlog asked Pediatric Alliance — St. Clair Breastfeeding Educator, Jennifer Yoon, about whether she thinks this pump and dump concept is a myth in nursing moms who would like to enjoy a glass of wine or beer now and then (you can read Jen’s great column Nutrition 4 Kids on The PediaBlog):
“I whole-heartedly agree! I was an expert drink and feeding timer after my 9 months of manhandling the communion cup for one precious sip (guzzle??) each week. A stout beer a day can actually increase breast milk supply. A glass of wine to relax at the end of the day when lots of moms are tired and frazzled can be a game-changer.
I recently had a mom who absolutely dismissed breastfeeding because she was ready to be able to drink again. I wished I could have passed this knowledge on to her before she made up her mind.