So you went out for one too many margs with the ladies, or maybe sipped a few too many glasses of bubbly at your bestie’s wedding that was lit-er-ally six days after you gave birth (thaaaaanks for that), and now you’re left wondering, do I really need to pump and dump?
After all, pumping and dumping is so….painful. To throw out ounces upon ounces of liquid gold that you worked so hard to procure, it just feels like such a waste for everyone. And for what, a little booze? Maybe they’ll sleep better anyway. Start ’em young, right? (We kid. We kid.) But really, is it entirely necessary? Well, it depends.
Steven A. Shapiro, DO, chair of the Pediatrics Department at Abington – Jefferson Health told the site that he follows Thomas Hale’s book, Medication and Mother’s Milk, which claims that once you feel ‘neurologically normal,’ it is safe to breastfeed.
“This means that if you are sober, it’s perfectly fine to breastfeed your baby,” says Dr. Shapiro. “A good rule of thumb for judging the appropriate time is to use driving as your guideline. If you could safely and legally operate your car, you are fine to breastfeed.”
Shapiro’s reasoning is that alcohol does not accumulate in breast milk, which means that when your blood alcohol level returns to normal, so does your milk. So if you’re at a party and feel uncomfortably full then you should feel free to pump or express your milk and toss it, but that’s for your own comfort and not for the baby’s safety.
But, if you do plan to have a drink or two, try to plan them around your feeding times. “Most new moms feed their babies every two to three hours, that gives you a window to enjoy a drink—in moderation,” he says. “Since the alcohol in your system peaks about 60 minutes after you drink, plan that drink shortly after you finish breastfeeding. This will give your body time to process the alcohol before your next feeding.”
Also consider your baby’s age when deciding if you should have a drink while breastfeeding, as infants are at greater risk than older children.
“In the first two months of life, an infant’s liver is very immature and will have difficulty processing toxins such as alcohol,” says Dr. Shapiro. “By the time they reach three or four months old, they can excrete toxins at about 50 percent the rate of an adult. Kids older than that have mature livers.”
Just remember, it’s really all about how *much* you drink. If things do get a little crazy and you’re beyond the point of driving, that’s when you’d be considered legally intoxicated (when your blood alcohol content is .08 to be exact) and you should discard the milk. And sorry, water won’t counteract the booze, neither will a plate of fries at the diner. Just wait it out, and maybe next time, make better choices. Or don’t. No judgement, honey.