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Booze and Breastfeeding; Is it okay to drink while breastfeeding?

by: 
debbie
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Of course St. Patrick's Day is a celebration of rich Irish heritage, but it's also one of the nation's biggest celebrations of beer, wine and spirits. 

If you're breastfeeding you might not be raising your glass to a cheers just yet. 

There's a lot of conversation surrounding an occasional drink while breastfeeding, and we're setting out to give you some facts and resources that can help you decide to have that St. Patrick's Day beverage or not. Drinking while breastfeeding is mostly up to the discretion of the mother, while others prefer to shy away from alcohol completely, but medical professionals generally advise women to avoid alcohol for the first 3 months postpartum. 

The Scoop on the Breastmilk Cocktail

The same amount of alcohol that enters your blood stream while drinking can also make it's way to your breastmilk. While the amount of alcohol present in breastmilk is a relatively small, your baby's liver isn't mature enough to process it as well as you can. When babies consume alcohol, it can affect their sleeping and eating patterns. Babies who regularly consume alcohol often eat less and sleep more sporadically, making them fussy and can experience some developmental delays. 

Studies that compare motor skill delays and developments with alcohol consumption in infants are basing their research on mothers who drank at least one alcoholic beverage per day for three months straight. It's important to consider that everyone's body and metabolism is different and so are the digestive systems of our babies. If you're considering an occasional drink while you're breastfeeding or even drinking regularly, a consult with your doctor can give you a better idea of how alcohol biologically affects you and any risks that might be associated with regular or escalated alcohol use. 

Some mothers even choose to supplement their breast milk for formula if they know they're planning on having a few drinks, then switch back to breastfeeding. You know best for your baby and drinking while breastfeeding falls in the same category. 

What's the verdict?

There's really no specific answer.

You know your body better than anyone, and drinking while breastfeeding is entirely at your comfort level. If you're worried about the amount of alcohol that could be transferred to your little one in their own white Russian breastmilk cocktail, you might want to take advantage of a great resource for breastfeeding moms. 

A company called Milkscreen sells test strips for parents to conveniently test their breastmilk at home for traces of alcohol. These are great to keep handy in your breastfeeding bag, just in case you get the itch to have your favorite glass of wine or a celebratory cocktail on a special occasion. 

Whether you're toasting with a pint of Guinness or a seltzer, we wish you and your family a happy and healthy St. Patrick's Day. 

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