Breast Feeding And Drinking Alcohol

What does a breast feeding mother do when she wants an occassional drink? Is it safe? Should she abstain? These opinions and more.

We have all read over and over again about how breast feeding is the best food a mother can provide for their baby. This is where the debate begins. To drink an alcoholic beverage or not to drink an alcoholic beverage: what does a breast-feeding mother do?

Though no specific studies have concluded that alcoholic beverages have a direct negative impact on an infant when passing through the breast milk it is still a highly argued topic. Of the four health care providers spoken with, not one could give the same answer as the other. These are the findings (Their names out of this article in respect of their privacy):

Opinion #1: It is best to avoid alcohol all together until more research can be done to conclude what effects it will have on the baby. If you feel you must drink, pump out the contaminated milk and discard it before your next attempt at breast-feeding.

Opinion #2: Drinking wine actually stimulates the letting-down of your milk, so drinking one glass per night before bed is beneficial to both you and baby. It will help relax you for a more successful feeding and will help the baby sleep better.

Opinion #3: Alcohol will pass through your milk at a rate of about two hours per beverage. If you don't plan to feed your child for several hours, like at night for example, there's nothing wrong with drinking. It isn't necessary to pump it out because it doesn't stay in your milk.

Opinion #4: When you stop feeling the effects of the alcohol, it is safe to feed the baby. If you think your child will want to nurse before that feeling has gone away, keep a reserve of pumped milk on-hand.

Notice an "opinion" is written for each respondent. It is presented this way due to this basic conclusion: All of these health care professionals could offer nothing more than their own opinion. Because these opinions are written in this article, that does not mean they all must be agreed with, necessarily.

You may also wish to think of the situation in these terms:

- How have I handled alcohol in the past? Taking that assessment and putting in relation to how an infant would handle even slight traces of alcohol is quite an eye-opener.

- Do I really want to be responsible for introducing alcohol to my baby? Even though it is not straight from the glass, it is still entering their system. Too many "what-if" questions come to mind in this respect.

- Don't I want to give the best care I possibly can for my child? In answering this question, a lot of the debate arises. Some feel a nursing mother can drink, while others feel it is taboo. I, personally, find all the controversial claims overwhelming.

So, what does a nursing mother do? Does she drink, abstain, or pump? There is no concrete answer to that yet, unfortunately. There are many nursing mothers out there or expectant mothers who need clear-cut answers. Until they get them all they can do is follow their judgement and hope they are doing what is best for their baby.

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