Our tips for managing the holiday season

We often start with funny catchphrases, but sometimes we have to be serious, like today, to remind you that alcohol abuse is dangerous for everyone's health; whether you are breastfeeding or not.

This article was reviewed by Julie Longy, IBCLC lactation consultant.

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In a few days' time, the glasses will toast to family reunions and the New Year.
And in your head, the famous question will pop up:
"Am I allowed to have a drink while I'm nursing?" There may be these answers like“Oh, it's just a small glass, it won't hurt you” followed by the famous “you know, in my day...” and the little intimidating comments “Well decide, because I don't want to waste a glass of this good wine”. Thank you dear uncle. 

To help you to have a good evening, without feeling guilty, we have sorted out all the unclear information you may have read/heard about breastfeeding and alcohol consumption.

Let's cut to the chase and get it straight:

• Can a pregnant mother have a drink? NO

• Can a breastfeeding mother drink alcohol occasionally? YES 

• Can she do so without moderation? NO
Your natural state of hypervigilence will be reduced; even more than the concentration of alcohol in your milk, being alert is crucial!

Do I have to use a breast pump if I want to drink alcohol?

No. It all depends on what kind of party you are planning and what you want to do. You can bring your baby with you and do the usual feedings, but with a certain timing and moderate drinking (we explain later in the article).

If you plan to have more than 2 drinks in the evening, then it is best to pump your milk beforehand and give it to your child in a bottle (or other container). The best option in our opinion (and the one that will give you the most peace of mind) is to arrange for a babysitter to watch after your child. Your alertness will naturally be impaired by alcohol consumption; you won't be as aware of it after two drinks, and this is crucial.

Does alcohol consumption affect your lactation?

Yes. Alcohol has an effect on the two hormones responsible for your lactation, oxytocin (which triggers the release of milk) and prolactin (which plays a role in milk production). In contact with alcohol, oxytocin decreases while prolactin, boosted by the euphoria of inebriation, increases. This is why, if you decide to "skip" breastfeeding (by offering your baby pre-pumped milk, for example), you should plan to pump and dump your milk, to avoid engorgement.

Can I speed up the elimination of alcohol from my body?

No. Alcohol passes into the milk in the same way as it passes into the blood. It is only passing through; only time will remove the alcohol from your milk. In other words, pumping your milk, drinking lots of water and/or resting will not speed up the elimination of alcohol from your body.

How long does it take for the alcohol to leave my milk?

The elimination of alcohol from your blood, and therefore from your milk, will vary depending on several factors: 
• The amount of alcohol consumed
• How quickly you drank the alcohol
• Your weight 
• Whether or not your stomach is empty.

On average, the concentration of alcohol in milk per drink is at its highest about 30 to 60 minutes after consumption and it will take 2 to 3 hours to be sure that the alcohol has completely left the body. The waiting time obviously increases with the number of drinks consumed.

Refer to the chart below to find out how much time should pass between your drink and the next feeding, depending on your weight & number of drinks.

To summarize 🥂

If the party is planned and you want to have more than one or two drinks of alcohol, pump your milk beforehand to be able to give your milk (free of alcohol) to your baby. The best option is to call a babysitter for your baby ♥️

If your baby is present:

Drink in moderation (one or two drinks) to maintain your vigilance and have the proper reflexes in case of a problem

☞ Preferably, drink just after pumping

☞ Make sure you don't have an empty stomach when consuming alcohol (the elimination is longer otherwise)

Wait at least 2 to 3 hours after consuming a glass of alcohol to breastfeed your baby

☞ If you do not have to breastfeed your baby during the evening, plan to pump and dump your milk, to avoid engorgement.

PS : If you have any questions or doubts, seek the advice of a health professional or lactation consultant. Your decision must be well informed in order to be the right one 🫶🏼

PPS :  Let those around you know that your choice is an informed one and it is your decision to make. Just like a mom who decides not to drink, to have an occasional drink, or to pump her milk and have her child babysat so that she can enjoy it until the end of the night!

Make the most of the end of year celebrations! Cheers Fam!

Your festive wardrobe💃🏽