- Healthy living
- Babies and toddlers
- Benefits of breastfeeding
- Getting ready to breastfeed
- A father’s or partner's involvement
- Breast-care products
- Breastfeeding with previous breast surgery
- Early initiation of breastfeeding
- Milk production
- Preparing the breasts and nipples
- Thinking about breastfeeding
- What to avoid during pregnancy
- What to avoid while breastfeeding
- What to expect from your early breastfeeding experience
- Your breastfeeding plan
- How to breastfeed
- Stages of breastfeeding
- Problems with breastfeeding
- Breastfeeding in public and at work
- Expressing breast milk
- When you or baby are sick
- Baby’s health and nutrition
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- Sex and pregnancy
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- Supporting a breastfeeding mother
- Where to find help
- Developmental milestones
- Food-related choking
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- Keeping baby safe
- Keeping baby safe in bed
- Learning and development through play
- Nutrition for young children
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- Toilet training your child
- Vitamin D
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Avoiding alcohol while breastfeeding
You should avoid drinking alcohol while you’re breastfeeding. This is particularly important during the first month, when breastfeeding is being established.
If it isn’t possible to abstain altogether, your limit should be 1 or 2 standard drinks occasionally. Don’t binge drink.
What to do if you are drinking alcohol
There is no good evidence that alcohol increases breast-milk supply.
You can avoid exposing your baby to alcohol by waiting for the alcohol levels in your breast milk to drop before you feed your baby.
The time this takes varies between women – for example:
- If a 61 kg woman consumes one standard drink, it will take 1 hour and 40 minutes until the zero alcohol level in her milk is reached.
It’s recommended you wait 2–3 hours before resuming breastfeeding.
What to do if your baby needs a feed
If your baby needs feeding during this time, you can give them expressed breast milk that’s free from alcohol.
It may be necessary for you to express breast milk while you’re waiting – for comfort and to maintain your milk supply. Throw away the alcohol-exposed milk.
Milk vs blood levels
- If you drink moderate to high amounts of alcohol, the alcohol levels will be higher in your breast milk than they are in your blood.
- If you have a lower alcohol intake, your blood and breast milk levels will be similar.
Is stout good for nursing mothers?
Some people think that stout is a good iron source for breastfeeding mothers – this isn’t true.
The level of alcohol in the blood and breast milk peaks after about 30–60 minutes after a drink.
Alcohol returns from breast milk to your blood supply over time – you don’t have to empty your breasts. ‘Pumping and dumping’ doesn’t get rid of alcohol from the breast milk (or body as a whole) any faster.
Keeping your baby safe if you’re drinking
- If you’re drinking alcohol, your baby could be at risk of accidents, such as being dropped or rolled on if you put them to sleep in the same bed as you.
- Longer term, they could be at risk of developing nutritional deficiencies.
When you drink alcohol so does your baby
Available on HealthEd
Advice on breastfeeding from a certified lactation consultant.
La Leche League International
The international website of La Leche League, who promote breastfeeding by providing mother-to-mother support, encouragement and education.