Alcohol and Breastfeeding: Hot Topic Tuesday Blog Hop

The Hot Topic Tuesday question for the week is “Should breastfeeding mothers abstain from alcohol?”

Porter StoutI am the first to admit that I have an occasional alcoholic beverage even though I am a breastfeeding mother. I have no more than one drink a day, and I never down my drink quickly. I limit myself to either one shot in a mixed drink or one beer or glass of wine per day, and I sip my drink. I am not the only mother to do so.

A friend of mine who was recently a breastfeeding mother also had the occasional alcoholic drink when she was breastfeeding her daughter. One evening while we were talking about drinking alcohol while breastfeeding, I mentioned that beer is supposed to increase milk supply. She did not know this fact, but right away said, “Yes, I have noticed that I tend to have more milk right after I drink a beer.”

Before my daughter was born, I did my research on drinking alcohol while breastfeeding. Although some sources say that a breastfeeding mother should absolutely not consume any alcohol under any circumstances, most indicated that having no more than a drink a day was okay. Furthermore, some sources even indicated that the consumption of some types of alcohol could, in fact, increase milk supply.

When my daughter was born, my husband bought me my favorite dark chocolate stout. After doing my research about drinking alcohol while breastfeeding, I learned that beer is a galactagogue, or a food that is lactogenic, meaning that beer, or rather, the ingredients in beer, are milk-supply boosting. Specifically, the barley used to make some beers is the most milk-supply boosting grain available. Guiness and many other stouts are made with barley malt and barley grain, which makes such dark beers great for breastfeeding mothers who want to boost their milk supply.

Furthermore, although research indicates that alcohol does pass from the blood to the milk, the amount of alcohol found in breast milk is usually insignificant. If a nursing mother drinks no more than one alcoholic beverage a day and she is not chugging her drink, then her milk is fine for her baby to drink. As the saying goes, “If you are sober enough to drive, then you are sober enough to breastfeed.”

In my opinion, drinking alcohol while breastfeeding is fine so long as the mother follows a few simple rules. First, do not consume more than one alcoholic beverage a day. Second, drink the alcoholic beverage slowly; do not chug or do shots. Finally, if she is sober enough to operate a vehicle, then she is sober enough to breastfeed her baby. As long as all three of these rules are followed (and I do follow all three rules), then consuming alcohol while breastfeeding is not a problem.

What do you think about drinking alcohol while breastfeeding? Share a link to your post. Please also share this post on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ after you share your link. Although not required, for some good comment karma, visit the three links in front of your posting.

Next week’s Hot Topic Tuesday subject: Should all pregnant women be screened for chicken pox immunity?

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Beer as a galactagogue – A brief history:
What about alcohol and breastfeeding?:

Image Credits

Porter Stout:

Heather Johnson

Heather Johnson is a mother, wife, writer, librarian, and linguist. She earned a BA in English studies with a minor in creative writing from Illinois State University in May 2007, an MS in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May 2009, and an MS in English studies with an emphasis in linguistics at Illinois State University in December 2011.

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