Can you have a 2 glasses of wine alcohol while breastfeeding?

You are currently Breastfeeding, but Can you have a 2 glasses of wine alcohol while breastfeeding? Can you drink alcohol while breastfeeding a newborn? Signs of alcohol in breastfed baby. Or you want to enjoy your favourite chocolates again and wonder whether the alcohol content could harm your baby? Here you can find out how much alcohol is allowed during breastfeeding and when it becomes questionable.

Can you have a 2 glasses of wine alcohol while breastfeeding? – am I allowed or not?

Can you have a 2 glasses of wine alcohol while breastfeeding

Image source: Pexels

It’s Tuesday, at 4 p.m. in Cologne. Rebecca*, Anna* and I sit together in a social group while our babies (8 to 12 months) take their first steps or fight over a toy. Suddenly, hostess Rebecca comes out of the kitchen with a bottle of champagne: “Since I only breastfeed in the morning, I’ll treat myself to a glass now. Who wants one?” she asks, full of anticipation.

Out of nowhere, Anna’s face darkens: “Are you serious?” she hisses, “Do you know what you’re doing to your child?” I can see from Rebecca’s face that she didn’t expect such a violent reaction. “Oh, nonsense! I’m only having a drink, and by the time I’m breastfeeding again, the alcohol will have worn off,” she whispers soothingly.

Can you drink alcohol while breastfeeding a newborn?

After this action, the afternoon was practically over. The mood didn’t want to lighten up again. Intuitively, I didn’t want to drink alcohol again until I had completely weaned. But perhaps there was nothing to be said against an occasional glass of wine? So that very evening I grabbed my computer and began to do some research. I wanted to know how dangerous it was for my son to drink alcohol while breastfeeding.

Signs of alcohol in breastfed baby: How dangerous is alcohol for baby during breastfeeding?

After I fed Google the keywords “breastfeeding” and “alcohol”, the results just rattled off. It becomes clear to me that this matter was on the minds of many moms out there. And it also quickly became apparent that regular and increased alcohol consumption while breastfeeding would harm my baby. Numerous studies now support it.

For example, an Australian study published in 2018 reported cognitive impairment in infants. The report on alcohol consumption during breastfeeding published in 2012 by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment and the National Breastfeeding Commission, among others, cites other studies, including from the U.S. and Mexico, that demonstrate sleep disturbances, motor impairments and growth retardation in babies in connection with alcohol consumption during breastfeeding.

How much alcohol is safe to drink while breastfeeding?

So far, so good. But Rebecca only wanted to drink a glass of champagne. Besides, her next breastfeeding meal was still many hours away. So what about the occasional consumption of alcohol during the breastfeeding period? I also found something in the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment report: There it speaks of a cross-national tolerance limit for alcohol consumption during the breastfeeding period. In total, the assessments of nine institutions are listed. Of these, seven are willing to compromise.

Read: Drinking Alcohol and breastfeeding effects on baby: Occasional consumption is okay

Can you have a 2 glasses of wine alcohol while breastfeeding?

For example, a French Agence considers that the consumption of “1-2 glasses occasionally” to be acceptable. The New Zealand Ministry of Health New Zealand finds it acceptable to reduce alcohol consumption to “occasionally 1 to 2 standard drinks (10-20 g alcohol).” And the U.S. American Academy of Pediatrics finds an “occasional alcoholic drink on special occasions is acceptable, but it should not be breastfed to baby for up to two hours afterwards.”

At this stage, I would like to repeat something that across the board, all institutions agree:

Complete abstinence from alcohol during the entire breastfeeding period is the very best for mother and child.

How long does it take for the alcohol to wear off?

First conclusion: The fact, Rebecca drinks a glass of champagne is not so dramatic. Suppose she doesn’t overdo it. But how much alcohol does a glass of champagne contain and how long does it take the body to completely break it down? I do more research.

When it comes to breaking down alcohol, our liver does most of the work. It does this to protect our cells from dying. Just because alcohol is a poison in our body cells. There is no general answer to how long it takes for the liver to do its work. It depends on several factors. Did you eat something before drinking alcohol? 

Alcohol Calculation example: Alcohol breakdown in women

As a rough rule of thumb:

A woman who weighs 55 kino breaks down an average of 0.1 per mille of alcohol per hour. Her body, therefore, needs about 3 hours to break down 0.25 litres of beer.

Based on Rebecca’s example, this means that Rebecca drank 0.1 litres of sparkling wine. That’s about 8.8 grams of pure alcohol and about 0.24 parts per thousand. After a little more than two hours, Rebecca’s liver has completely broken down the alcohol.

Suppose you want to know how much pure alcohol you actually drank and how long it takes for it to break down. In that case, you can find out using the online alcohol calculator from the German Federal Ministry of Health Education.

How long is alcohol stored in breast milk?

Learned something again! But what about the alcohol content in breast milk? Is it as high as in the blood? I read deeper into the subject and got the following information:

Alcohol passes immediately after consumption not only into the blood but also into breast milk. The concentration in the milk is 95% of the concentration in the blood. The alcohol content in the blood is highest between 30 and 90 minutes after consumption.

So if the baby is breastfed immediately after drinking alcohol, there is a serious risk to its health. The organs are not yet fully developed and therefore, unable to deal efficiently with the poison fed to it. This means an enormous effort for the little body.

Can I pump milk containing alcohol?

Can you have a 2 glasses of wine alcohol while breastfeeding-Breast pump

During my further research, I came across a persistent rumour: Some mothers believe that you can express milk containing alcohol and then continue breastfeeding as usual.

But anyone who has carefully read the previous two sections will know by now at the latest that this rumour is not valid. Immediately after expressing the alcohol-containing milk, the body produces new alcohol-containing milk. And this continues until the liver has completely broken down the alcohol in the body.

The alcohol content in the milk is related to the alcohol content in the blood! You can also follow the rule of thumb mentioned above when breaking down the alcohol in breast milk.

Tipsy cakes and chocolates: Do I have to abstain while breastfeeding?

So far, we were talking about the consumption of alcoholic beverages. But what if there is Black Forest cake, tiramisu, rum balls or red wine sauce at the family celebration? Are foods containing alcohol just as taboo during breastfeeding?

Well, mach my extensive research, I can say that it depends on the quantity. To cause serious harm to the baby, you have to eat a lot of chocolates. So as long as it stays at one piece of cake, you don’t have to worry – a whole box of liquor chocolates, on the other hand, can be dangerous.

I accidentally drank alcohol while breastfeeding – what should I do?

If you accidentally drank alcohol – for example, if the beer was not non-alcoholic after all – and you are breastfeeding your baby, you can assume that your baby will absorb small amounts of alcohol with the breast milk. Of course, this is not good. But unfortunately, you can’t reverse it. It would then only be essential to pay careful attention to what you consume in the future.

Read: Understanding about breastfeeding and alcohol consumption

Alcohol and breastfeeding: my conclusion

Finally, I close my laptop and lean back to conclude: In numerous scientific reports – also from other countries – we tolerate occasional alcohol during breastfeeding. And yet they all agree that abstaining from alcohol is the very best thing for mother and child.

So in Rebecca’s case, it was indeed still tolerable to drink a glass of champagne. Mostly since she was able to let enough time pass between the next breastfeeding meal. If you are currently breastfeeding your newborn baby several times a day and irregularly, you should avoid alcohol or pump milk before drinking.

If you have already breastfed your baby under the influence of alcohol – and it was more than 1-2 glasses of champagne or wine, see a pediatrician as soon as possible. Drunk breastfeeding can put your baby’s life in danger.

Help for mothers who cannot give up Alcohol 

Mothers who cannot abstain from alcohol while breastfeeding can find contact points on the Internet that offer their help. 

How do you deal with alcohol during breastfeeding? Are you teetotal, or do you allow yourself a glass or 2 glasses now and then? Can you have a 2 glasses of wine alcohol while breastfeeding? We are looking forward to your comments!


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