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Alcohol has an effect on how much milk is produced (Shutterstock)

Kenya
People’s opinion is one thing but the truth lies in scientific research and expert advice

Society usually has divided views on whether it’s okay, or not, for breastfeeding mothers to enjoy a drink. You might be the subject of criticism and sometimes you’ll even get mean stares from others.

People’s opinion is one thing but the truth lies in scientific research and expert advice. To demystify the grey area around this sensitive subject, we will approach it rationally.

Before we get into the thick of things, we need to get a few important facts out of the way:

  • When you drink alcohol, it stays in your blood stream for some time. That means it flows into your breast milk and your baby is at risk of consuming some of it.
  • There is a link between alcohol and health problems in babies. They’re at risk of developing liver problems since they can’t process alcohol yet, they can develop motor skill problems and weight problems.
  • Alcohol especially risky for babies who are below three months since it’s a very fragile stage of development.
  • For a mother, the alcohol has an effect on how much milk is produced. It inhibits milk production so you’ll express less milk than you usually do.
All these risks are scary. But, this mostly happens when a mother consumes an excessive amount of alcohol while breastfeeding.

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The term ‘excessive consumption’ kind of varies. One person’s excess can be another’s definition of moderate. That’s because many factors vary from person to person like body size and weight as well as tolerance levels.

When it comes to breastfeeding though, the limits are the same for everyone. The amount you drink and they type of alcohol you’re having also matters because of the percentage they have.

It’s not okay to have several beers and glasses of wine or too many shots because recovery time will take longer. A glass of wine or two light beers within a twenty four hour period is considered moderate. Even as you drink moderately, you have to wait at least two or three hours before breastfeeding.

In case you’ve had too much to drink and you’re feeling intoxicated, the only option is to wait it out until you’re sober.

There is a link between alcohol and health problems in babies (Shutterstock)
Sometimes it’s assumed that all you have to do is to pump and dump a few times to get the alcohol out of the breastmilk. Pumping and dumping won’t help because the alcohol is in your bloodstream either way.

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Of course the best option is to avoid drinking until that entire period is over. You won’t have to worry about the risks involved. Also, you’ll be more relaxed because all the pressure to calculate how much time you’ll have before all the alcohol is out of your system won’t be there anymore.

If you choose to unwind a little, you have to be careful and observe all the necessary guidelines strictly.

You’re limited to a certain amount of alcohol per day but that shouldn’t be on a regular basis because drinking too often also has its own risks.

Another safety measure is to never sleep with your baby in the same bed especially after heavy drinking. Alcohol often induces deep sleep which puts your baby at risk of suffocation when they’re lying next to you.


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