Many women would like to drink alcohol again after the privations during pregnancy. However, alcohol still poses a risk to the child even after pregnancy during the breastfeeding phase. As a general rule of thumb, the alcohol concentration in the mother’s blood passes into breast milk and is absorbed by the child to almost the same extent. As alcohol carries numerous risks for the newborn, it should be avoided wherever possible. If, despite everything, consumption is desired, it must be planned carefully and with foresight to ensure a sufficiently long interval between the intake of alcohol and the next breastfeeding unit.
Is alcohol permitted during breastfeeding?
The consumption of alcohol while breastfeeding is not recommended. The concentration of alcohol in the mother’s blood passes into breast milk in almost identical amounts, so it is neither significantly reduced in quantity nor filtered in any way and its dangerousness is not reduced. Even in small quantities alcohol poses a hazard to the newborn.
If the infant has ingested alcohol through mother’s milk, his organism is only insufficiently able to break it down again. Metabolic processes involved in this take much longer in a newborn than in adults. Since breast milk has been proven to be the best food for the baby and if the mother can and wants to breastfeed, she should therefore refrain from using it for the duration of the breastfeeding period in the interests of the baby’s well-being. If, despite the risks, the consumption of alcohol is desired, the mother should ensure that there is a sufficiently long interval between drinking and the next breastfeeding session. A time window corresponding to the amount of alcohol consumed, which is very individual, should be observed in order to allow the organism sufficient time to break down the alcohol from the mother’s bloodstream and breast milk.
Can I pump out first?
There is a widespread misconception that milk which already contains alcohol can be pumped out and disposed of and that the subsequent milk is again safe for the child and can be administered. The fact is, however, that alcohol is added to milk via the mother’s organism as long as alcohol is measurable in the mother’s blood. Accordingly, the milk that follows the pumping out is also interspersed with alcohol.
Pumping does not in any way accelerate the elimination of alcohol from the mother’s milk. Only time is the decisive factor, after which the breast milk can again be classified as safe and free of alcohol. Only when a window of time corresponding to the amount previously consumed has elapsed after the alcohol supply has been stopped and the alcohol has been completely broken down in the maternal circulation, the milk is considered harmless. No pumping out is necessary, because as soon as there is no alcohol in the mother’s blood, there is no alcohol in the breast milk either.