There is evidence that shows in nearly all cases, except in certain medical circumstances, that breastfeeding is the best food that you can give your newborn baby girl or boy. After pregnancy and labor you will no doubt want to return to a more normal lifestyle again and if you previously enjoyed an alcoholic drink or two could probably do with a glass of your favorite tipple. The question is will this alcohol be passed on to your baby and will it affect them?
At first glance there seems to be conflicting advice on this subject depending on what information that you read. Some says that a couple of drinks will be okay, some that it’s okay if you wait a period of time before breastfeeding and some that you shouldn’t drink at all. The advice depends mainly on the age of the information but some common sense should prevail.
Firstly you need to understand that there are 2 hormones involved in breastfeeding, Prolactin and Oxytocin. Prolactin stimulates your breast to fill with milk while Oxytocin is responsible for pushing the milk to your nipple allowing your baby to suckle.
A study in 2005 found, that after drinking alcohol there is a rise in Prolactin and a decrease in Oxytocin. This translates simply to the mother feeling like there is a fullness of milk in the breasts but may mean that it is harder for the baby to suckle.
This is where the common sense needs to prevail. Early on your baby is drinking a substance called colostrum and this is vital for lots of reasons for your baby, which is why medical advice is to breastfeed for the first six weeks. A newborn baby’s liver isn’t fully developed at this time and finds it harder to process small amounts of alcohol.
During this time it would be advisable to not drink any alcohol at all but if you really have to have a drink then it should be just after a feed so that the alcohol has time to pass through your body before your next feed. Alcohol is not trapped in breast milk and therefore any small amount passed to your baby will depend on how much is in your bloodstream at the time of feeding.
Later on having a couple of drinks shouldn’t be a problem and again waiting before feeding your baby would be advisable. Obviously later on there is the option of expressing milk to avoid having to feed from the breast and this may be your solution.
Bear in mind that as with any different food or drink your milk may smell and taste different to your baby and they may be put off feeding by this difference. Whatever you decide after reading this, congratulations and enjoy your first drink!
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