Can I drink alcohol while breastfeeding?

With Christmas just around the corner, the festive season is well and truly upon us, as is the endless number of Christmas meals, parties and general Christmassy fun! With this in mind, many mums ask us about the rules of alcohol while breastfeeding… after all it can be hard to refuse a glass of hot, spiced mulled wine!

So we thought we’d ask our in-house lactation consultant, Sioned Hilton, to offer some advice on drinking alcohol while breastfeeding…
Can I drink alcohol while breastfeeding?

"Alcohol can transfer across into your breastmilk so there are some considerations to take into account.

  • It takes the human body 1 hour to process a unit of alcohol on average depending upon size weight age, health etc.  
  • A small glass of wine (125 mls)  is 1.4 units of alcohol, 
  • 1 glass of Gin (25 mls) and tonic is 1 unit,
  • Shot  (35mls) = 1.4 units
  • a half pint of larger / cider   500mls =1.3 units ,
  • a glass of champagne (125mls) =  3.8 units 

 If you are enjoying lunch, an evening out or a special occasion do bear in mind your alcohol intake if you are a breastfeeding mum.  Try and pace yourself and alternate with a glass of water to every alcohol drink. 

1 or 2 glasses of alcohol will be fine but if you find that your baby is a little sleepier, or doesn’t feed as well you may need to look at alternatives next time. If it is your first drink after having the baby you may find yourself a little more tipsy so be careful.

If you expect to let your hair down and are planning not to feed baby, you may think ahead and have a store of EBM available. You could however find that you still have a need to feed – if you are feeling full you can always hand express to take away the discomfort or if you are at a special occasion without baby, take your pump with you.  

If you have a preterm infant, or a baby with additional health needs and on medication it may be advisable to have an alternative to alcohol as your baby’s immature liver may find it hard to metabolise the alcohol (even in small quantities)."

Thank you to Sioned for her wise words and we hope you enjoy all your Christmassy activities!