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For how long should I avoid alcoholic drinks after giving birth?

Baby Care

These days, a significant percent of women don't mind indulging in alcoholic drinks. A common question for many mothers who take alcohol is often whether their alcohol consumption is harmful to their breastfeeding baby. Will it harm my breastfeeding baby if I drink wine or beer is the question most ask themselves?

The question of alcohol intake and breastfeeding is controversial. There is, however, increasing consensus that alcohol intake can be harmful for your breastfeeding baby. It is important to note that the same amount of alcohol that makes it into your bloodstream makes it into your breast milk. The breast milk and blood alcohol levels about 30 minutes after alcohol consumption is the same.

The baby is small, has immature liver, and generally at three months, processes alcohol at about half the rate of adults. Therefore, however small the amount, the effect of the alcohol in the baby's body can be profound. The alcohol will stay longer in the baby's blood, and even in small amounts, can have more marked effect on the baby.

Alcohol affects your babies' eating and sleeping. During the four hours after a breastfeeding mother consumes an alcoholic beverage, the baby consumes about 20 per cent less milk. Not only does it affect ability to breastfeed adequately, but that the baby may become drowsy. While the drowsy baby may fall asleep more quickly after their mother drinks alcohol, the baby also sleeps for a shorter amount of time.

Alcohol thus affects both the duration and quality of sleep your baby gets. The baby therefore does not rest adequately. Recent studies are also suggesting that alcohol in breast milk may also hinder babies' development. It is therefore probably wise to abstain from alcohol when breastfeeding.

While some experts recommend breastfeeding moms avoid drinking alcohol until their baby is three months old, the exact baby's age at which a nursing mum can safely consume alcohol without affecting the nursing baby has not been determined.

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