So, should nursing mothers “dump” their breastmilk after drinking alcohol?
“Pumping and dumping doesn’t hasten the removal of alcohol from breast milk,” Dr. Joan Meek, Chair of the American Academy Of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding, tells PEOPLE. “If mother has consumed high amounts of alcohol, she can pump and dump for her comfort, if she doesn’t feel comfortable feeding her baby.”
She continues: “Alcohol is a small molecule which passes easily in and easily out of breast milk, being metabolized by the mother’s liver. The more time that has passed, the less alcohol will be in the milk. Generally, if the mother feels no effects of the alcohol, the exposure to the baby should be minimal.”
Dr. Meek explains that it also depends upon the amount consumed.
“It generally takes about 2 hours for 4 oz. of wine or 12 oz. of beer or 1 oz. of liquor to be cleared. If multiple drinks are consumed, the time increases,” she says. “It also is impacted by whether the alcohol is consumed on any empty stomach or not. The alcohol is more rapidly and fully absorbed on any empty stomach, so more potentially is available in the milk within about 30 minutes. Moms should generally breastfeed just before consuming alcoholic beverages. Eating something before drinking is helpful to decrease absorption.”
When it comes to breastfeeding, Dr. Meek also suggests being mindful of how much alcohol is going into your body.
“We would caution against regular heavy consumption of alcohol during breastfeeding, but the occasional drink should pose minimal risks,” says Dr. Meek. “But we would rather that mom breastfeed and consume minimal alcohol than not to breastfeed because she desires to consume alcohol.”