Alcohol While Breastfeeding: Side Effects

on September 14, 2017

Many women have the lifestyle of drinking alcohol frequently. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy is a strict “No”. Hence, many women think they have found their freedom to drink post-delivery. Breastfeeding mothers will frequently receive advice of whether alcohol is safe for your baby or not. Are you one of those new mothers who is considering to resume drinking post-delivery? If you want to drink alcohol while breastfeeding, you may want to know its ill effects too.

Read More: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Symptom, Cause, Risk, Prevention

Things to Consider While Breastfeeding

Drinking while breastfeeding is not against the law, and drinking to some extent is not harmful. But the question is how much and when. Effects of alcohol on baby is directly proportional to the amount of alcohol the mother intakes. Many new mothers find themselves in a situation to drink or avoid while breastfeeding. Following are few important factors to consider about alcohol while breastfeeding.

1} Baby’s Age

  • Newborns have immature liver, and hence their body does not process alcohol
  • Infants upto 3 months of age metabolise alcohol at half rate when compared to adults
  • Older babies are able to metabolise alcohol more quickly than an infant

2} Amount of Alcohol

  • Amount of alcohol consumed has a direct effect on the baby
  • The more alcohol consumed, the longer it takes to metabolise in both the mother and the baby

3} Will you be eating

Alcohol consumed along with food reduces the absorption rate of alcohol into the blood stream

Read More: 7 Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding Your Baby

How much alcohol passes into breast milk?

When a woman consumes alcohol, the amount of alcohol in the woman’s breast milk is the same as the amount present in her blood. Determining the blood alcohol level helps determine the alcohol concentration in milk. Alcohol easily passes into the woman’s milk and is at peak levels about 40 to 60 minutes after consumption and about 70 to 90 minutes when consumed with food.

If alcohol is gone from the blood, it is most likely to have got eliminated from breast milk as well. The more alcohol consumed, the longer it takes to get eliminated from the blood stream and breast milk. For example, a 120 pound woman takes about 3 hours to eliminate one serving of wine or beer from the body.

Side Effects of Alcohol While Breastfeeding

Side Effects of Alcohol While Breastfeeding Baby

1} Inhibits Milk Production:

A glass of drink occasionally impose no harm to your little one. However, 2 drinks and above a day has a significant impact on the mother and breastfed baby. Increased alcohol intake inhibits milk production and supply to your little one.

2} Disturbed sleep wake-pattern in infants

Increased quantities of alcohol in breast milk has shown to impact baby’s sleep-wake pattern. Babies whose mothers drank alcohol regularly slept lesser compared to light drinkers. Increased alcohol concentration in breast milk also increase mood swings and aggressiveness in babies.

3} Slow weight gain

Daily consumption of alcohol by the mother decreases weight gain in the infant. Hence, women who drink frequently have underweight babies.

4} Nurse frequently but intake less milk

Women who drink frequently, their babies nurse more frequently but take in less milk. This happens especially between the 3 to 4 hours the mother has had a drink. Studies have proved that women taking one serve if alcohol has shown 23% reduction in milk production and volume.

5} Reduced gross motor development

Alcohol has a significant impact on infant’s cognitive ability and gross motor development. Mother who drank alcohol while breast feeding, those babies have showed poor gross motor skills and development. Alcohol also leads to poor memory and concentration ability in infants.

Additionally, excess consumption of alcohol can cause weakness, drowsiness, aggressiveness, and mood swings in baby.

If a mother is consuming excess alcohol, it can be potentially dangerous to the baby as their livers will not be able to metabolise the alcohol. Mothers who are completely intoxicated with alcohol should not breastfeed unless they return to normal state. Pumping out breast milk before drinking can be a good idea to stop alcohol from passing into your milk and baby’s blood stream. Else, a woman can nurse her baby right before a drink. Milk will be alcohol free after 3 to 4 hours, which is the ideal time for the next feed.

At any point, drinking to an extent of intoxication is not advisable.  It is best advised to consult a doctor if the mother has any doubts regarding the relation of her drinking pattern with breast feeding. There are ways to drink responsibly without endangering your little one. Breast feeding is a beautiful experience where you bond with your baby. Hence, enjoy this beautiful phase without worrying too much about alcohol and your drinking habits.

Read More: Health Benefits of Brandy for Kids


Related Posts

Popular Posts