Is It Safe? Caffeine and Alcohol While Breastfeeding

February 26, 2013

By the time your baby comes, you’ve spent about 9 months without enjoying your morning cup of coffee or a glass of wine at night. So, you’ll be happy to hear that there is a way to enjoy small amounts of caffeine and alcohol at some point in your breastfeeding journey. Just keep in mind that caffeine and alcohol do enter your breast milk after consumption, so the timing and amount you consume are critical.

Caffeine While Breastfeeding
After a late night or an early morning, we don’t blame a mom for craving a little pick-me-up. Being a mom is understandably tiring, but we have good news. In careful moderation, a small amount of caffeine will not harm your breastfed baby.

When caffeine enters your bloodstream, a small amount can be passed along to your baby through breast milk. Keep in mind that the concentration of caffeine in your breast milk will peak about two hours after breastfeeding. We recommend limiting your daily caffeine intake to less than 300 milligrams. For comparison, 300 milligrams is about 2 (8 oz) cups of coffee. Also, be sure to check the caffeine levels in other drinks you consume regularly. If you feel you’ve consumed too much caffeine, you can “pump and dump” your next pumping session to empty your breasts. This will ensure your little one isn’t affected by too much caffeine.

Alcohol While Breastfeeding
Whether it’s a quiet night after the baby is in bed, or a much-needed night out with friends, many healthcare professionals say a small amount of alcohol is acceptable (after your baby is 3 months old or older).

The safest way to have a drink while breastfeeding is to feed your baby with previously expressed breast milk for their next feeding. This will ensure that no alcohol was transferred into the breast milk. Another option is to enjoy your drink immediately after your last feeding session or during the time your baby typically sleeps the longest, so your body has time to process the alcohol. Regardless, studies show during the 4 hours after a breastfeeding mom consumes one drink, babies consume about 20 percent less milk. Also, babies will become drowsy and fall asleep more quickly after their mother drinks alcohol, but they also sleep for a shorter amount of time.

In general, be sure to drink enough water when consuming caffeine or alcohol, as dehydration can affect your milk supply.

Did you enjoy a caffeinated drinks or alcohol in moderation while breastfeeding? What precautions did you take? Share in the comments below.

20 thoughts on “Is It Safe? Caffeine and Alcohol While Breastfeeding

  1. My husband and I hadnt been on a real date since I became pregnant so when my baby was 5months we went out. Before we went on our date I called my lactation consultant and she told me I could have one cup of alcohol and after 2hours after drinking to pump and throw that milk away and then I could breastfeed my baby. I did exactly what she told me and everything was fine with me and the baby. My baby is now 10 months and I continue to brastfeed!

    • Interesting because mine said to go ahead and feed baby even if you wanted to drink one portion of alchol. Feed baby while actually so that it hasn’t entered the milk than you can waite till the next feeding till it is out of your system. They’ve measured the actual alchol content in breastmilk and at peak… there was hardly any alchol in the breast milk. APX. .007. YA!! The is no worries. Pump and dumping is just for sanity only. It is 100 times worse if you were pregnant and decided you to drink.

  2. I rarely go out, but when we do we like to have a good time. I used the milk screen sticks that tests your milk for alcohol. I used them when I was breast feeding my son 3 years ago and will use them again with my daughter who is currently 2 months if I have a drink. They work great and makes me feel more comfortable!

  3. When my son was about 4-5 months old, my husband and I went out. The alcohol test strips are what I used and would not nurse for 24 hrs after I drank anything. 19 mths and still holding strong.

  4. I usually try just direct breastfeeding our 3 month old but every time we want to do something over the weekend I pump during the week one bottle each day and that way can enjoy a drink or just relax so my husband can bottle feed our baby girl 😉

  5. My LC, who taught a breastfeeding class as well, said that you can have 2 drinks (one drink is one 12 oz. beer, one shot of liquor, or one 6 oz glass of wine) before pumping and dumping. There’s also been numerous studies out that show that alcohol enters and leaves breast milk much like it does the bloodstream. If you were to drink 4 drinks and not nurse or pump for 8 hours, your milk should be alcohol free by the time you feed next.

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