Pump and Dump?: Drinking and Breastfeeding over the Holidays.

breastfeeding and alcohol

With Thanksgiving coming up on Thursday, Hanukkah just under two weeks away, and Christmas just a little over a month away, the holidays are just about in full swing. It's the happiest time of the year, and perhaps even happier because you're sharing it with your little one this time around! 

You may have had to miss out on a wine, beer, eggnog or bourbon with your family last year due to your pregnancy and if you're breastfeeding, you may be wondering what that means for you and that glass of pinot this year. 

Chances are you've been told by at least one person that you either can't drink alcohol at all, or that if you do breastfeed you'll have to use your breast pump afterwards and dump the milk down the drain. Most breastfeeding mothers, especially ones that have struggled to establish or maintain a milk supply, cringe at the thought of tossing that liquid gold out. 

I have good news for you.

you can have your wine and drink it, too

Most modern resources say that the only reason pumping and dumping would be necessary is purely for the mother's comfort. That means it is not a necessity; you can drink alcohol and breastfeed without causing harm to your baby.

KellyMom (an awesome resource for all things breastfeeding) states that if you are sober enough to drive, you are sober enough to breastfeed

Dr Jack Newman, world renown breastfeeding expert, has a facebook post that circulates this time of year, stating that even waiting a certain amount of time after drinking to breastfeed isn't necessary because such a small amount of alcohol is present in breast milk and it dissipates over time just like the blood alcohol levels tested at hospitals and using breathalyzers.

Dr Newman also quotes a study that really puts the small amounts of alcohol present in breast milk into perspective:

"The alcohol content in breast milk immediately after drinking is equivalent to a 0.0274 proof beverage. That's like mixing 1 oz of 80 proof vodka (one shot) with 2919 oz of mixer . By the way, 2919 oz is over 70 liters. Two hours after drinking one (strong) drink the alcohol has disappeared from the sample. Completely harmless to the nursing infant."


As always, you should check with your medical professional before making health choices for yourself or your baby, but the general consensus seems to be that banning alcohol consumption should not be used to make the lives of nursing mothers even harder than they already are.

So go ahead and enjoy a bourbon or an eggnog. Raise a toast to your baby's first (or second, or third) holiday season and enjoy yourself!