Is It Safe to Drink Wine While Breastfeeding?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 02 October 2018
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Drinking wine while breastfeeding can be controversial, but many medical experts agree that drinking one or two alcoholic beverages while breastfeeding is perfectly safe, if certain guidelines are followed. When nursing mothers drink alcohol, they can potentially pass alcohol on to their babies through breast milk. Alcohol passes out of breast milk, however, just like it passes out of the rest of the body, when it is metabolized. Because alcohol does not usually remain in the breast milk any longer than it normally remains in the rest of the body, most nursing mothers can drink responsibly.

One popular notion about drinking wine while breastfeeding is that the alcohol remains in the breast milk, contaminating it and making it permanently unsafe for the baby. Many mothers believe that removing and discarding breast milk after drinking can protect babies from consuming alcohol. In fact, the breast milk that remains in the breast may still contain alcohol, if the mother's body hasn't yet metabolized the alcohol. If the mother's body has metabolized the alcohol, then the breast milk will be alcohol-free. Removing milk from the breasts won't leave behind alcohol-free milk if there is still alcohol in the mother's bloodstream, and if the mother's body has metabolized the alcohol, then removing milk from the breasts isn't necessary.


Mothers are usually advised to nurse their babies immediately prior to consuming alcohol, in order to extend the necessary time until the next feeding. Most experts agree that it takes about half an hour for alcohol to begin to enter the bloodstream and breast milk. It's generally considered safe to nurse a baby while the first alcoholic beverage is being consumed. Mothers are generally advised not to breastfeed if they have been drinking and are feeling the effects of alcohol.

It can take anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes for the body to completely metabolize the alcohol from a single beverage. The amount of time necessary for alcohol metabolization can vary, depending on the strength of the alcoholic beverage in question, the speed of the mother's metabolism, and whether she drank the alcohol with food.

While it's considered safe to drink an occasional glass of wine while breastfeeding, most experts advise women to restrict themselves to drinks containing lower concentrations of alcohol, and to drink responsibly. Drinking beer, weakly mixed liquor drinks, and wine while breastfeeding is usually safe, as long as the mother waits until she has metabolized the alcohol before breastfeeding her baby again.



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