Effects of Consuming Alcohol while Breastfeeding - Frequently Asked Questions

Dr. Nithin Jayan
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Nithin Jayan, MBBS, DNB
Last Updated on Aug 12, 2016
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Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long does alcohol remain in the breast milk?

Alcohol does not get retained in breast milk. The concentration of alcohol in breast milk varies in proportion to the concentration in the motherís blood. Once alcohol is eliminated from the motherís blood, it gets eliminated from breast milk as well. The rate of elimination depends on the quantity consumed.

2. Does alcohol help the mother relax and produce more milk?

No. It is nothing but a folklore. It has been observed that alcohol rather reduces the production of breast milk and infants suckle less in the 4-hour period after alcohol consumption by the mother.

3. Will pumping and discarding breast milk after consuming alcohol speed up the elimination of alcohol?

No. Alcohol is not retained in the breast milk and moves out of it into the motherís bloodstream as the concentration in blood comes down. Therefore, pumping and discarding wonít hasten the process.

4. Can alcohol harm the breastfed baby?

It might. Although no concrete evidence exists to prove the same, it is advisable to avoid exposure of the infant to alcohol as certain studies point towards a potentially harmful effect of alcohol on the motor development and sleep patterns of infants.

5. How can I take an occasional drink without exposing the baby to alcohol?

You may try expressing and storing the breast milk before consuming an alcoholic beverage to feed the baby while the alcohol clears out of your system.

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