Your milk alcohol level will be exactly the same as your blood alcohol level. So if you’ve had a couple of drinks and hit the legal limit, your milk has about the same alcohol content as fresh fruit juice or a non-alcoholic beer–.08%ish. Alcohol does not concentrate in the milk, and as your liver clears it from your blood, the milk alcohol level will also drop. There is no need to pump and dump for a healthy baby! If you are concerned about even very minimal amounts of alcohol in the baby’s system, nurse before you go out, and time your drinking so that you give your liver time to metabolize it before the baby would want to nurse again.
The takeaway message: Long before you have enough alcohol in your milk for your baby to even notice, you would be so hammered that you would hardly remember you even had a baby. The concern for occasional drinkers is not really alcohol being passed to the baby, but mom and dad remaining sober enough to care for the baby–and that’s a really big deal where co-sleeping is concerned! Safely sleeping with a baby means being stone cold sober. Period.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a great New Year to everyone!
Please note that I’m really only talking about moms who have a drink now and then, not habitual heavy drinkers. We just don’t know what effect continuous long-term exposure to alcohol might have on a baby.
Lynn Carter is an IBCLC in Kirksville, Missouri.