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Ask an Expert: Alcohol and Breastfeeding

By Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA

Fan Question:

“How long after you consume alcohol should you pump and dump? Do you have to pump and dump if you consume water with said alcohol? How much water?”

As long as you drink moderately (1 or 2 glasses of beer or wine), there’s no reason to pump and dump. Occasional exposure to alcohol in your milk is not harmful to your baby. If you feel strongly that you don’t want your baby exposed to any alcohol, you can simply allow time for it to clear from your system. The alcohol from 1 glass of beer or wine is out of the milk of a 120 lb. woman within 2 to 3 hours. (In other words, if you have a drink right after nursing, there may be no alcohol in your milk by the time you nurse again.) You don’t need to pump for alcohol to pass out of your milk. Alcohol leaves your milk automatically as your blood alcohol levels go down. If you have a stronger drink or more than 1 glass of beer or wine, it takes longer for your milk to be completely free of alcohol. But keep in mind occasional exposure to alcohol is not a concern. Drinking water with the alcohol makes no difference. Obviously, if you’re really drunk, you shouldn’t be caring for your baby no matter how baby is fed.

unnamedNancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA is a board-certified lactation consultant in the Chicago area who has been helping breastfeeding families since 1982. Her books for professionals are used worldwide. Her books for parents include Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers, which she co-authored with Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, and her tiny problem-solving guide, Breastfeeding Solutions  In 2013, Nancy released her Breastfeeding Solutions smartphone app (available for Android and iPhones) to give mothers a quick, go-everywhere source of breastfeeding help. Nancy speaks at events around the world.


  1. pat schmitt says

    I nursed all 6 of my babies for 2 to 3 years each. Nursing is a wonderful way for mom and baby to bond and would definitely recommend it. Also, I ran a very busy day care for 20 years and encouraged the moms to nurse. I tried to be modest and discreet because once we visited a fast food restaurant with 5 sons and a mom just pulled out a boob with no thought about modesty. It was rather strange with 5 sons.

    • Sorry to hear five boys were exposed to the way nature intended breasts to be used. How awful.

      • You are a snot. If a man would have pissed on the floor would you say “sorry for your 5 children to be exposed the way nature intended a penis to be used?” I doubt it. If two people were screwing on the restaurant floor would you have said, “sorry for your children to be exposed to the human body being used the way nature intended?”

        Breastfeed and always be considerate within reason to the comfort and education level of all the people you share PUBLIC places with. This world is for everyone and everyone should consider everyone while raising their children. Hiding the FACT that you are nursing, is a bit extreme, IMO but hiding your actual breast really isn’t that difficult nor inconvenient. I’ve nursed 6 and still have my 4 year-old asking at night.

        • The thing is a penis is not used to feed a baby, a breast is, and it’s normal, peeing on the floor is not. 5 boys or 5 girls or whatever doesn’t matter, breastfeeding isn’t something anyone should be ashamed of.

        • Boobs are not genitalia and breastmilk is not waste.

        • A snot. Hehe. I’ve been called worse. How about instead of freaking out about your boys seeing a baby eat, you worry more about scantily clad women in advertisements, or dirty TV shows, or risqué music lyrics, or anything else that objectifies women instead of perpetuating the sexualization of nourishing a child? Congrats on nursing six babies, now stop sexualizing it and start normalizing it.

        • How would you know the difficulty or ease of covering while nursing for ALL mothers? Would it have been different if 5 DAUGHTERS were there instead of sons? Did you honestly just compare breastfeeding to urinating and having sex?

        • A penis is genitalia. Breasts are not. Urine is human waste. Breast milk is not. Peeing on the floor serves no purpose. Feeding a baby the way nature intended, well…

          Your points are completely invaild and frankly, not very well thought out.

        • Y do ppl think taking a crap or pissing can be compared to bf? Ur an idiot

    • your response has absolutely nothing to do with the article.

      on the subject of the article, my major concern when i drink as a breastfeeding parent is to make sure never to cosleep after drinking and to have a parenting spotter who has not been drinking if i am out with baby.

    • BMamaof3 says

      I find a woman comparing feeding a sweet baby to a man urinating in a restaurant rather strange. To each their own.

  2. I don’t have to “consider everyone” when I am feeding my child. I am only one person. “Everyone” is billions of people. The only person I have to consider when nursing is, strangely enough, my child. “Everyone” can avert their eyes if they have an issue with it.

  3. Well good for you lady, you bfed 6 kids while hiding your breast. Everyone is different. Just because you’re too shy to pull out your breast in public, doesn’t mean other women should be to suit your needs. Breastfeeding is natural, it’s their source of nutrition & I feed on demand, whenever, wherever. You wouldn’t tell me not to pull out a bottle in front of your sons. If you don’t like it then don’t stare & teach your kids some manners or sit elsewhere, SIMPLE AS THAT.

  4. Name calling? Wow.

  5. “I saw a woman at a restaurant nursing once and developed an obsessive fetish for breast milk on the spot”. Said no one over. Please, it falls on us parents to teach our sons and daughters that breasts are multi-functional.

  6. Do you eat under a blanket? Or have to eat in a public bathroom? Why should a baby? I do believe in modesty as well dont get me wrong. The situation should never be used to be an attention grabber. I think more moms would breastfeed if is was more accepted in public. If you’re uncomfortable is it because you cant use the exposure as a way to educate what a mother is doing for her baby; then who is in the wrong? As a society we fail if we continue to judge any mother breastfeeding in public.

  7. Also…Thank you for the blog about pumping and dumping and educating moms on what should be considered!

  8. Geez people. You are all acting like children. All this back and forth and putting each other down is ridiculous. People are entitled to their own beliefs, opinions and way of running their own lives. You’re actually doing the opposite of making breastfeeding comfortable. You’re making me never want to do it. I don’t want to turn into a judgemental person who thinks I know everything and can attack people when they aren’t as open and free with their body as I am. Have some courtesy. You’re not better than anyone.

  9. Why don’t you mother hens take your clucking to the comment section under a different article if you are so passionate? Hardly anything that this particular article is about has actually been mentioned in all the ranting. I wanted to check out the comments to see if maybe other mothers had put in their own advice or experience with “pumping and dumping” after alcohol consumption. I really don’t give a s**t about your opinions on a completely different topic than the one posted and I’m sure this is the thought most other moms have after reading this.

  10. For the love of god, WHY is breastfeeding in public still such a divisive issue? You want to be discrete, good for you. You don’t want to/can’t/baby refuses to use a cover? Feed uncovered! There is NO SHAME in feeding a baby, and it is up to mom and baby to determine the appropriate way. There are PLENTY of things in modern society that I find distasteful, breastfeeding is certainly not one of them. But uppity women who judge other mothers, shame them in public, and tell them to be “discrete” (and by the way, that is the proper spelling, NOT “discreet”), now those women I have a major, major problem with. It is not your baby, it is not your life, and it is NOT your place to be the arbiter of societal propriety, especially when it concerns a perfectly legal, natural and beautiful relationship between mother and child. Get off your high horses. How would you feel if another mother approached you and asked you to stop feeding your child because it was making her uncomfortable? And this ridiculousness with the concerns about our sons’ delicate eyes, my god! Guess what moms: your sons are probably going to be accessing pornography on the internet far more than they will EVER see a nursing mother. I think you all need to take a step back and chill out. Life is FULL of things to be worried about, I suggest you get a hobby, po turn your righteous indignation into something more constructive than shaming breastfeeding mothers.

  11. So anyway, if my baby feeds within 2-3 hours of the glass of alchol would baby be drunk? How much of the alchol passes through? Would it be like giving my two year old a glass of wine? Or is it pretty minimal

    • I believe it was on kellymom.com that I read that your breastmilk alcohol level is the same as your blood alcohol level at any given time. So depending on your weight, after a 2 ish drinks your bal might be near 0.08%. In other words, a very small amount passes into your breastmilk.

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