Barolo After Birth? What Is The Deal With Breastfeeding And Alcohol?

We wait 9 long months for the arrival of our precious babies.  At that same time, a few other precious things are reintroduced back into our lives such as sushi, deli meats, more than 1 cup of coffee, and of course…WINE!  

When I tell people my baby is due in early December, usually the next question is, “will you be breastfeeding?”  My response is always, yes, if it works out. I refuse to put too much pressure on myself (though I say this now). I know that every scenario is different and there could be roadblocks such as latching issues, plugged milk ducks, Mastitis, and simply not enough milk.

In preparation for if this wonderful opportunity does work out, of course I’ve been doing my due diligence searching the internet on best practices for breastfeeding while still enjoying your vino.

And of course, articles upon articles come up yelling at us saying no amount of alcohol is safe.  Here we go again! Either that, or how this is a “grey” area since there just aren’t enough good-quality studies to give us the full picture. Much like how much wine can you consume when you are pregnant (my thoughts on that here).  

Not to mention, a few infuriating articles on mom shaming at its finest…

Such as when a few months back, actress and singer Jessie James Decker received major slack after posting a picture of her drinking a glass of wine while breastfeeding her five-month-old.

Singer Jesse James Decker has sparked a debate online about the safety of drinking while breastfeeding. The new mom has received thousands of comments from people criticizing her for endangering her baby.

Or, how about when Tasha Adams, a 28-year-old mother of three was arrested for allegedly endangering the welfare of her then-six-month-old daughter after drinking while breastfeeding at an Arkansas restaurant. WHAT!? The charges were eventually dropped since drinking while nursing isn’t illegal in Arkansas.

After taking a deep breath and continuing to research the subject, I did come across some content stating there is no need for breastfeeding women to worry about having an occasional drink, according to doctors and breastfeeding experts.  This was refreshing to see, however what if I want more than one glass?

So, I’ve put together a guide on what I plan on following.  I’ve highlight the “I” here, since by no means am I an expert in this field, this is simply my plan.  I am sharing it because I am striving to provide support to others in the same boat.  From what I can tell, there aren’t a whole lot of resources out there on the subject outside of lecturing us or providing actual takeaways that we can apply to real life.

  1. Being very mindful in the beginning: Though I want nothing more than to dive back into my nightly vice, I know I need to really drink in moderation (1-2 drinks, 1-2 times a week). When considering the effect of alcohol, a newborn has a very immature liver, so greater amounts of alcohol would be more of a burden. Up until around 3 months of age, infants detoxify alcohol at around half the rate of an adult. An older baby or toddler can metabolize the alcohol more quickly.  
  2. Timing: Waiting at least three to four hours until breastfeeding the baby.  Someone’s advice really resonated with me, where if you feel like you can’t drive a car, don’t breastfeed. Also, alcohol could take longer to peak in some women, so I’ll pay attention to how I feel in addition to how long it’s been since I finished my drink.
  3. Plan ahead: I love this one!  If I know I am going to open up a bottle of a delicious Cabernet that night, I’d like to store some ready to go. This will also give my husband the chance to feed the baby and be part of process which I am feeling very adamant about. Then, there’s always the old “pump and dump” I keep hearing about, which will alleviate breast pain that may result from skipping a feeding.
  4. 2 drink maximum: This is a rule I try to abide by in general. I mean, who wants to feel like crap the next day anyway…especially with a newborn!
  5. Use the strips to test for alcohol: I’ve heard mixed reviews on these tests such as Milkscreen, where after you have your wine, you pump just enough milk to test for alcohol. Since everyone metabolizes alcohol at different rates the Milkscreen test is designed to show a color change at 0.02% alcohol levels.  I’ve already got my Amazon order in for these. I know myself, and doing a “test” will give me an ease of mind.  

There we are, a short and sweet reference guide.  Not over complicating or over thinking things which I know can happen easily after you have a baby.  I’ll be sure to report back how nature decided to take its course and the actual reality of what panned out with this master plan of mine!

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