Drinking Wine While Breastfeeding – How Much Is Too Much

Drinking Wine While Breastfeeding – How Much Is Too Much

Wine has been a popular part of many social gatherings. These include birthdays, weddings, and even minor family celebrations. In many cultures, wine has been a part of everyday life, with some even encouraging breastfeeding moms to have a drink to help boost their milk supply. Does drinking wine or indeed any alcoholic beverage while breastfeeding really help? I’ve done some research on the effects of wine while breastfeeding, and here is what the experts recommend.

So if you’re drinking wine while breastfeeding, how much is too much? One standard drink of wine, which is the equivalent to 5 ounces of 12% wine. This is not known to cause any harmful effects to your baby either short or long term. It is recommended that you wait at least 2 hours to breastfeed your baby. Drinking more than one glass of wine at one sitting can result in negative effects. Examples include inhibiting the letdown reflex and a reduced volume of milk. Your baby’s quality and length of time sleeping can also be affected. Excessive amounts could result in psychomotor delays in your baby. The CDC recommends not drinking alcohol as it is the safest option while breastfeeding.

So this means that while you’re breastfeeding, you are allowed to have some wine moms! The data is quite clear with regards to the amount of wine you can take. However, mothers need to also take into account the potential effects on their baby. Regardless of the quantity, wine still contains alcohol that can pass through your breast milk and to your baby. So if you want to enjoy a glass of wine, it’s best to be prepared. I will discuss some other factors that you should consider as well as the necessary measures you should take when drinking wine while breastfeeding.

Wine And Its Effects On Breastfeeding

The primary concern about drinking wine while breastfeeding is its alcohol content. Alcohol is known to rapidly diffuse to the bloodstream and some amounts can readily cross over the breast milk. Here are some of the notable characteristics of alcohol with regards to breastfeeding:

  • According to the CDC, alcohol is usually at its peak level in breast milk at around 30 to 60 minutes after an alcoholic drink has been consumed.
  • Generally, alcohol can be traced in the breast milk for around 2 to 3 hours per drink after it was taken.
  • Alcohol does not accumulate in breast milk. The levels found in breast milk reduce as soon as your blood alcohol levels go down.

There are a variety of factors to be considered when it comes to the effects of drinking wine while breastfeeding. The most important factor is the amount of alcohol being consumed. To have a much clearer picture, here are some of the possible effects of wine while breastfeeding depending on the quantity.

A Daily Glass Of Wine While Breastfeeding

First, let us define what a daily glass of wine means. Wine glasses differ in size and the typical size is around 8 ounces. However, the standard pour is usually 5 ounces regardless of how large your wine glass is. If you might recall, the CDC suggests that a daily serving of 1 standard drink, which is 5 ounces of a 12% wine. This amount is not known to produce harmful effects to your baby.  This is equivalent to consuming 14 grams of pure alcohol.

With a daily glass of wine, studies show that it is unlikely to cause either short-term or long term effects for the breastfeeding baby. However, we should also take note that in a single drink, alcohol generally stays in breast milk for around 2 to 3 hours.  This is why experts recommend that after a glass of wine, you should wait for at least 2 hours before breastfeeding your baby.

It is also important to take note that in some studies, daily consumption of alcohol, even at 1 drink a day, is associated with the following:

  • Increased risk for slow weight gain in the breastfed baby
  • A decrease in baby’s gross motor development

Effects Of 2 Glasses Of Wine While Breastfeeding

A couple holding two glasses of red wine

Drinking two glasses of wine at a time is double the safe limits for a breastfeeding mom and it could produce some untoward effects on the mom’s lactation and her nursing baby. After drinking 2 glasses of wine, you can expect the following:

  • The length of time that the alcohol stays in your breast milk can be doubled. Generally, alcohol can be traced in breast milk for around 4 to 5 hours.
  • Your milk “let-down” or ejection reflex may be inhibited while your alcohol level is high.
  • The frequency of nursing might be increased but a decrease in the milk volume is observed within 3 to 4 hours of nursing.
  • According to one study, it can decrease an infant’s milk intake by 20 to 23%.
  • Your baby can potentially show some agitation.
  • The time your baby spends for active sleep (REM) can be decreased, which leads to a much shorter duration of sleep.

Effects Of 3 Glasses Of Wine While Breastfeeding

Daily and heavy intake of an alcoholic drink may affect your breastfed baby negatively. After consuming 3 glasses of wine or even more, you can expect the following:

  • Alcohol can be detected in your breast milk for about 6 to 8 hours after you have consumed the wine.
  • If drinking is done daily, it can decrease the length of time a mother will breastfeed her baby.
  • Your milk let-down and milk production will be significantly decreased.
  • One study showed that breastfeeding mothers who drank more than 2 standard drinks daily as more likely to wean their baby at 6 months.
  • Other studies suggests that moderate drinkers, having 2 or greater drinks a day was linked to psychomotor delays on their babies.

Apart from the quantity of alcohol, there are other factors to take into account regarding the extent of the effects of the wine’s alcohol content on your breast milk and your breastfed baby. Among them are the following:

Baby’s age

A newborn baby has very immature liver that may struggle to metabolize even a small amount of alcohol. At around 3 months of age, babies can metabolize alcohol half the rate of adults. On the other hand, older babies or toddlers can metabolize alcohol faster.

Mother’s weight

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that alcoholic beverages should be limited to an occasional intake. Breastfeeding moms should consume no more than 0.5 g alcohol per kilogram of body weight.

How fast the wine was consumed

Adults usually metabolize or break down alcohol at a rate of 1 ounce in 3 hours. Consuming the alcohol at a faster rate would result to accumulation of alcohol in your blood stream and breast milk at a certain period of time.

Consuming food with wine

Food delays the time that alcohol peaks in your blood stream. Thus, taking it with food may mean that alcohol can be found on your breast milk at a much longer period of time.

How Long Should I Wait To Breastfeed After A Bottle Of Wine?

woman drinking wine with a bottle of wine in the foreground

A standard wine bottle contains approximately 25 ounces of wine, which is equivalent to around 5 standard drinks. Consuming a bottle of wine would mean waiting 5 times longer than what is recommended for a standard glass of wine. Thus, you should wait for at least 10 hours to breastfeed after you had a bottle of wine.

Can Drinking Wine Make A Baby Fussy?

Drinking a standard glass of wine was not found to produce untoward effects to a baby, especially if you wait 2 to 3 hours to nurse. Drinking more than this recommended limit can potentially make your baby agitated. Studies show that if consumed beyond the recommended limits, the alcohol content of wine can disrupt your baby’s regular feeding and sleep patterns. This in turn, could make your baby irritable and fussy.

Breastfeeding And Wine Coolers

  Wine coolers refer to a mixture of wine and fruit juices or carbonated drink. They usually have a lower alcohol content when compared to regular wine. Wine coolers often contain less than 10 percent alcohol, usually between 4 to 6 percent. Since it also contains alcohol, it is generally safe to follow the recommended rule of waiting around 2 hours before breastfeeding your baby. According to some experts, you can consider breastfeeding as soon as you feel sober enough to drive.

Tips When Drinking Wine While Breastfeeding

The most important point to remember if you’re drinking wine for a special occasion is to plan ahead. Here are some tips that can help:

Breastfeed before you drink

This ensures that your baby is full before you give yourself a treat. It would also help you maintain the recommended 2 to 3 hours of waiting time prior to breastfeeding your baby again.

Pump ahead of time

an electric breast pump half full of breast milk and a bottle of breast milk

Pumping and storing your expressed breast milk in the freezer keeps you worry-free if in any case you might drink more than a glass on a particular occasion. You can easily thaw your frozen breast milk and feed it to your baby until you feel sober enough to nurse again. Just make sure you pump before you have consumed any drinks with alcohol content.

Seek help for care giving

The alcohol content in your wine will make you less capable to attend to your baby for a while. It is advised that you seek help from another family member or a caregiver to take care of your baby until you are sober enough to attend to her needs. Do not sleep on the same bed with your baby if you consumed any amount of an alcoholic drink as it could increase the risk for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

If you’re breastfeeding, it doesn’t mean that you are restricted to all forms of your social life. Although having no alcohol is the best way, a glass of wine can be a way for some mothers to unwind once in a while. Just make sure you plan ahead and follow the expert’s recommendations to ensure your baby’s safety.

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-special-circumstances/vaccinations-medications-drugs/alcohol.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK501469/

https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh25-3/230-234.htm

https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/system/files/ABA_Alchohol_BF%2520for%2520website.pdf

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